What are the worst nightmares for a volleyball player? What do you experience and how do you get out of these situations? I will present you the worst nightmares and also give you advice on how to deal with them.



In my professional career, I have been in all the situations I am about to describe. Sometimes I’ve thought to myself, this can’t be what happened to me. On the other hand, overcoming these troubles always made me stronger and I was then more resilient, mentally stronger and with experience and knowledge of how to deal with nightmares.

1. Injury

Injuries can be every volleyball player’s worst nightmare. Common injuries include ankle sprains, muscle strains, and sometimes and more serious issues such as ligament tears or fractures. These injuries not only cause physical pain, but can also lead to a longer rehabilitation period, disrupt your training schedule, and potentially affect your long-term volleyball performance. The recovery process often requires thorough physical therapy, rest and a gradual return to activity, which can be frustrating and slow. In addition, injuries can have a profound psychological impact as athletes may struggle with fear of re-injury, loss of confidence and pressure to return to previous levels of performance.

And to help you eliminate your injuries so you can take inspiration from my free online course, where I tell you what the most common injuries are and how to prevent them. You can find this course at volleycountry.

2. Burnout

You know yourself that volleyball requires a high level of physical and mental commitment. Burnout occurs when players experience chronic fatigue, decreased motivation, and feel disillusioned with the sport. I’ve experienced this myself, sometimes for 14 days I was in a state where I didn’t enjoy anything about volleyball, I had no desire to work on myself.
Sometimes it was the result of over-training, high pressure on the players at the club and not enough time to rest or recover. Burnout not only hinders your performance, but it also affects our enthusiasm and overall player well-being. Symptoms can include persistent fatigue, irritability and disinterest in the game or training. If burnout is not addressed, it can lead to a long-term disconnect from the sport, ultimately affecting a player’s longevity and enjoyment of volleyball.

Therefore, remember that your body and head also need rest. Spend adequate time sleeping and recovering. Your practices should be varied and diverse even though some coaches have had the same practices for 20 years. Also set realistic goals, don’t expect to increase your jump by 15 centimetres in a month for example.

3. Lack of support

Volleyball is a team sport and players rely heavily on the support of their teammates, coaches, family and wider community. Lack of support, whether it is inadequate coaching, unsupportive teammates or inadequate family support, can lead to frustration and hinder your development and enjoyment of the game. I had a coach who would beat us down mentally after every game we lost, and sometimes even after we won. He would talk to us about how we were bad players, that we didn’t want to play, that we couldn’t play volleyball, and threatened to terminate our contracts at the club. That was really a dark time in my career.

Instead, effective coaching and a coach’s approach is essential to a player’s skill development and strategic growth, while a positive team dynamic boosts morale and performance. Without these, players can feel isolated and unappreciated, which can reduce their motivation and slow down their progress. In addition, the absence of supportive infrastructure, such as adequate training facilities and medical care, can significantly affect players’ ability to train effectively and stay healthy.

4. Lost in a key match

Losing a key match, especially during a playoff or championship game, can be a huge blow to a player’s morale and can overshadow their hard work and dedication. Such losses are often accompanied by intense emotions of disappointment, frustration and sometimes even guilt if the player feels they have underperformed. I found myself in this situation, our team was the clear favourite in the league final, in our minds we were already champions. But our underrated opponent pulled teeth, outplayed us three times 3:2 in sets and then we were totally surprised and disappointed.

These emotional consequences can persist for a long time and affect your confidence and motivation in the next matches. For many athletes, mentally recovering from a significant loss can be as challenging as physically preparing for the next competition. It requires resilience, a strong support system and often reflection to learn from the experience and move forward in a positive way.

5. Team conflicts

Certainly team conflicts are one of the nightmares in volleyball. Experiencing conflicts or poor interplay with teammates can often create a toxic environment that affects the overall team performance and individual players’ enjoyment of the game. Conflicts within a team can arise due to personality clashes, differing goals, or poor communication. If such problems persist, they can lead to a breakdown in trust and cooperation, which are essential components of any successful team.

Players may feel stressed, anxious or unhappy, which can affect their concentration and performance on the field. Resolving team conflicts often requires open communication, mediation and sometimes intervention by coaches or team leaders to rebuild a cohesive and supportive team environment.

6. Lack of playing time

Being benched or not getting enough playing time can be frustrating for many, especially for players who are eager to showcase their skills and contribute to the success of the team. This situation can lead to feelings of inadequacy, lowered self-esteem and lack of fulfilment. It can be especially challenging for players who consistently train hard and feel they deserve more opportunities to play. Lack of playing time also impacts on player development, as playing experience is crucial for improving skills and gaining confidence and every player needs to play. You can’t just sit on the bench for 3 years and expect to play better and better volleyball.

Coaches should manage playing time effectively and ensure that all players feel valued and have the opportunity to contribute significantly to the team’s efforts, even if sometimes it’s not easy. Obviously, if you were playing for, say, the U.S. National Team and your competition on the smash was the excellent TJ Defalco, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t be getting as much playing time as he is.

7. Plateau in skill development

When players get to the point where they feel that no matter how much they train, they don’t improve, it can discourage them and lead to a loss of motivation. This stagnation can occur for a variety of reasons, such as inappropriate training methods, lack of new challenges, or simply reaching the natural limits of their abilities. I have experienced this myself many times, I tried to get better at receiving, but my reception was still mediocre.

When players experience a plateau, they may begin to doubt their potential and question their commitment to the sport. Overcoming this requires a strategic approach, such as setting new goals, changing training routines, seeking feedback from coaches, and sometimes taking a break for mental and physical recovery. Maintaining a positive mindset and resilience is the key to overcoming the impact period and continuing to grow as an athlete.

This is where individual training sessions, of which I am a big proponent, can help. You can go to the gym on your own, without coaches, trying to improve your strength and dynamic abilities, or doing lots of fun exercises at the wall. Like from my online course, 120 wall volleyball drills.