* The more we watch volleyball, the less we understand the rules. Just when we have it all figured out (you can only score if you're serving, you see), something happens on the court that completely baffles us. We've now more or less given up and just crinkle our face to make it look like we understand everything and are carefully considering all levels of strategy and execution. You think they're buying it?
* The worst is when the ball rolls to our feet and we have no choice but to put it back in play. But who's serve is it now? We weren't paying that close attention. Well, we were paying attention but now with the pressure of everyone looking over to see where the ball went we can't remember who served last. Does the ball go back to that team... or this team? Invariably, we choose wrong and toss the ball to the wrong side, only to suffer the humiliation of an 8-year-old girl correcting our mistake and sending the ball where it actually belongs.
* Some of the other volleyball moms aren't drinking water from their fancy big plastic tumbler, if you know what we mean. This isn't speculation. This has been verified.
* As exhilarating as it can be to watch your kid's team run up the score on a hapless opponent, it's just as disheartening to have your kid be a member of that hapless team getting steamrolled by a superior opponent. We've experienced both ends of that particular scoreboard spectrum, once during the same two-hour period.
* Here are the six kinds of players you'll find on a youth volleyball team:
1 The kid who's afraid to touch the ball with anything approaching intent, so the player ducks away from an incoming ball, serves with a wet-fish half-ass swing that barely makes it to the net, and otherwise cringes the entire time they're out there.
2. The kid who might as well be on the junior varsity team now, making sophisticated digs and spikes and launching untouchable, rocket serves over the net. How is that little kid already that good? Sometimes they're even the shortest kid on the team.
3. The kid that's completely inconsistent, making MVP moves one moment, then flailing around cluelessly the next. You never know what you're going to get.
4. The coach's kid. Sometimes they're pretty good, but mostly they're not.
5. The hapless kid that tries so hard every time but just can't make anything happen. They're returning one ball straight up into the rafters, shanking another into the face of the scorekeeper, or swinging with all of their might and completely missing (the ball never got within five feet of them). They're trying, but it's a disaster every time.
6. The kid who's out there doing anything but paying attention. This player is dancing and laughing or craning their neck around to look at the scoreboard or chatting with the player next to them or staring at the floor. What they're not doing is staying focused and watching the ball. This is probably your kid, FYI.
* You don't hit the volleyball with your hands. You hit the volleyball on the flat part of your forearms. We didn't know this. That is apparently called by some "the platform."
* This whole youth sports thing isn't a cute little bit of recreation, people. It's an industry. The facility we use is packed with as many as ten games going on at once. It's a cacophony of whistles, tennis shoe squeaks, ball thuds, and parental cheers. And if everyone's paying as much as we're paying, that place is essentially a suburban Fort Knox.
* It's always fun when your kid's team is down by a point or two with the clocking winding down and there's zero urgency or hustle from anyone to try and get in a few more plays to get the go-ahead score before time expires. In the final seconds, it's like everyone purposely goes into foot-shuffling underwater slow-motion when it comes time to reset and toss the ball back to the server.
* It can be very hard to maintain a positive, encouraging attitude when the ball drops straight down equidistance between three players on your kid's team and no one moves an arm or a foot even one inch to try and return it. This happens multiple times during a game.
* We think that snack counter popcorn just came out of the popper. How can it already taste so stale?
* To say we get tired of yelling "Rotate!" at games would be an understatement.
* As mentioned, we don't know much about volleyball, but even we have determined that at this level, teams live and die on the ability to serve a ball over the net. There's just not a lot of returning. But then you have these kids serving the ball by tossing it up and palm smacking it like they're Misty May at the Olympics (rather than underhand hit it out of your left hand). If we weren't so lazy, we'd keep track of how many palm-hits actually go over the net and stay in bounds. If it's more than 15% we'd be shocked. But a majority of the kids do it that way regardless.
* We understand that in the world of youth sports, coaching usually comes down to whichever parent has been sufficiently guilted into volunteering. It's the luck of the draw as to whether your $115 (and ten weeks of your life) will be spent with a coach that will patiently and competently teach skills or a coach that has no idea what they're doing and doesn't seem inclined to learn.
* But if you're not going to volunteer, you really have no room to complain. Ms. Cheese Fry didn't volunteer to coach this summer because she didn't think she'd do a good job. Only now, seeing the coach we ended up with, does she truly know what it means to "not do a good job." We're calling it a teachable moment.
* Maybe adults should end their workday by lining up and slapping hands with their coworkers with a mumbled "good game." Would the world be a better place?
* Move your feet and get in front of the ball!