You’re contemplating whether or not you want your child to tryout for a KAULUKOA team and one of the key questions is, “I’m about to invest in my child’s future, why should I choose KAULUKOA when I have so many other options?”

Great questions require great answers… or at least answers that help you understand if your values align with ours.

With that in mind, let’s explore our development methodology.

The first thing we want you to understand is that KAULUKOA has a long-term outlook on athlete development. Most clubs think in one-year cycles. “These are the athletes I have now, so how can I make it work so that we win this year.”  KAULUKOA, on the other hand, starts with the end in mind and prioritizes learning and development. We approach each athlete as if they’re going to graduate with us. This long term outlook helps ensure that our coaches are providing athletes with the right tools/knowledge at the right time to achieve their end goals. As a college-prep program, this IS our primary focus… to ensure that athletes are in a position to attain success when it matters most, at the highest scholastic level. For some, that level might conclude at high school. For others, it may be college. Whatever your child’s “highest level” may be, our responsibility is to prepare them for it. 

Accordingly, we take the following approach.



This has always been and continues to be, a Ka Ulukoa cornerstone. Every athlete should know how to PASS, serve, set, attack, dig, and block.


We want kids to learn how to play a variety of positions. This means no pigeon-holing. The tall kid doesn’t get stuck in the middle and the short kid doesn’t get stuck as a libero. Every kid receives some opportunities to play both front row and back row.


This may sound silly, but this is actually a critical skill (that prepares them for another skill set later, autonomy.) Most young athletes have no basis for what it means to train. And understandably so, most young athletes, especially at the 12 and under level, have limited exposure to a competitive training environment. We want athletes to understand how to…

     – be deliberate with the process
     – contribute to a supportive environment
     – manage the pace of practices
     – anticipate and follow through on responsibilities
     – give their best effort
     – learn from both success and failure


We want Ka Ulukoa athletes at this age focused on developing skills, learning about basic team systems, being good-teammates, and learning to give their absolute best effort when they’re in the gym. We believe this approach best prepares athletes for the high school and college levels.

KAULUKOA’s priority is to… DEVELOP skills. DEVELOP game knowledge. DEVELOP work ethic. DEVELOP relationships. DEVELOP a desire to compete. DEVELOP a love for the game. Success is defined by learning not winning. 

It’s important to understand the balance KAULUKOA strikes between individual development and team development. Based on the above, it may seem like we don’t care about winning. But nothing could be further from the truth. We understand the value of striving to compete and win, but our experience has led us to acknowledge that it’s a disservice to a majority of the athletes on a young team when your sole focus is on winning. The winning at all costs mentality DOES have a cost… and it’s your child’s development. Winning at all costs leads to pigeon-holing. It leads to limiting the number of opportunities every athlete receives. It leads to specialization at an early age, which in turn limits the scope of your child’s development (skills, awareness, and game IQ.) As a youth development program, we prefer a holistic approach that helps as many athletes on the team as possible and not just a few.

Additional food for thought…by creating well-balanced players that have the ability to perform all skills, KAULUKOA is positioning your child to be an asset to all future coaches and teams. Imagine if your child could step into any role and help the team. We’ve had many graduates go on to college and play positions that they didn’t play in high school or club and do well. That’s not a coincidence!

As we get to the older age groups, we begin to shift gears. Development is still at the heart of what we do, but now we start taking into consideration the need to clearly define roles, specialize the training, teach more advanced systems, have the players work towards autonomy, compete for positions, and play at a high level.

During the high school years, you can expect… 



We still engage in the practice of every player learns every skill, but the focus becomes much more specific for players as we help them grow into their positions. This process of specialization provides players with the opportunity to learn about positional nuances – unique skill sets and requirements for a given position. In turn, this puts them in a position to compete at a higher level. (It’ll also help athletes compete with others that play the same position in team settings.)

advanced systems

If we did our job correctly at the younger ages, the athletes will have a strong fundamentals foundation. This foundation will allow our coaches to install and advance offensive and defensive systems more easily. Time can be spent on learning systems instead of trying to help athletes achieve proficiency with basic skills. (High skill proficient allows for better systems proficiency…and more complexity if desired.)  We want Ka Ulukoa athletes to understand and execute a variety of systems.


The closer players get to graduating, the more we expect them to operate with autonomy. By 17s and 18s, they should be facilitating their own practices – setting up drills, initiating all contacts, and ensuring that drills are run efficiently. Coaches will provide lesson plans, provide focal points (what are we learning today), and continue to teach, but we want athletes taking on more responsibilities. Our coaches are literally trying to make themselves increasingly unnecessary.

critical thinking

Volleyball requires an astute mind when competing at a high level. Everything you do must have a specific purpose – how do I score or create a situation that puts our team at an advantage, thereby increasing the probability that my team can score. The coaches engage in dialog with the athletes about strategies and encourage them to be actively involved in the process.

As you can see, Ka Ulukoa incorporates a sliding scale that shifts from a broader spectrum of individual development at the youngest ages to a more narrow spectrum of positional and team development at the older age groups. We want every athlete in our program to receive the opportunity to develop a strong foundation of skills and game knowledge so that they are prepared to compete, in all facets, when it matters most – high school, the recruiting process, and college. It’s the Koa way!



  • AGES 11 & 12 (BASICS)

     – Near equal playtime
     – Commitment to individual development; team development is secondary
     – Kids will play all positions
          – exception: we will try to identify setters at this age
     – play to win at Nationals while in contention


     – Near equal playtime
     – Commitment to individual development; intro into systems (offense and defense)
     – Kids play all positions but setters should be identified early
          – in April, best passers and attackers move to outside
     – 13s all second tempo or higher
     – 14s move towards a quicker tempo offense (if they have been at koa for > 2 years)
     – 14s equitable time at Qualifier
     – play to win at Nationals while in contention


     – a balance between individual and team development
     – positions should be established
     – if we’ve done our job at the lower levels, players should be attacking from anywhere
     – quicker tempo offense
     – introduce team autonomy (players start to think critically and problem solve)
     – play to win at Nationals while in contention


     – strictly team development
     – autonomous team (players run practices; coaches provide lesson plans and feedback)
     – film study required
     – semi-autonomous when traveling to National Venues
          – responsible for laundry, food prep, shopping, etc; preparing kids for living on their own/college life


     Classroom Time
          – Philosophy
          – Systems (Discussion)
          – Leadership – Lead by Example section
     Court Time
          – Foundational Training – Skills development, Movement Patterns, Systems (Implementation)

          – Strength & Conditioning – incorporated into practices
     Measurement Acquisition
          – Height, Standing Reach, Block Jump, Approach Jump
     1 Community Service Event
     One on One Sessions (End of November)

     Classroom Time
          -Tournament Reviews
     Court Time
          – Individual Skills
          – Component Training
          – Systems Development
          – Game Play, component-specific
          – Scrimmaging (higher volume in April, May, and June)
          – Individual Skills regression and isolation
     Local Tournaments – tools for development
     Showcase Tournaments – a balance between competing and individual player exposure
     Qualifiers and Nationals – competing to win
     Measurement Acquisition (May)
          – Height, Standing Reach, Block Jump, Approach Jump
     2 Community Service Events
     One on One Sessions (February and May)

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