‘Xontro’ hits it big with Badgers

first_imgSometimes practice is all fun and games for the Wisconsin volleyball team.That is, only if the Badgers are playing Xontro.”It’s like yahtzee, but with volleyball,” senior assistant captain and middle blocker Amy Bladow said of Xontro. “We were going to call it volley-ahtzee, but you can’t use Yahtzee because it’s copyrighted.”A game developed by head coach Pete Waite, Xontro has become a big hit in practice with the Badger players.”It’s one of Pete’s little creations,” Bladow said. “We throw it in there and it gets really competitive. We really get after each other when we play Xontro, it gets really heated.””They seem to have a lot of fun,” Waite said. “We don’t do it all the time, but when they do, they have a lot of fun. They learn a lot.”The rules of Xontro are rather simple. There are two teams, and each team gets a game card with a list of items to earn. The items can be anything from five line shots by the outside hitter to five coverage plays, from five overhand digs to five setter attack kills. The teams receive points accordingly, and at the end of the timed session, whichever team has the most points wins.”It’s a drill I came up with probably two years ago now from just watching the team practice, seeing that they need to do certain things on the court, run certain plays, accomplish certain skills to win a volleyball match,” Waite said. “What it does is it has categories that they have to earn and each team can play on the same card or they can play on different cards.”Waite initially created the game solely for Wisconsin’s practices, but it quickly became an opportunity to do much more.”It went so well with us that I started producing them and they’re now for sale across the country,” Waite said. “It’s very sport-specific, but I’ve even done a few for basketball, hockey and just different things where it could go into different sports.”MidwestVolleyball.com out of Minnesota jumped on the opportunity to stock the game, selling two different versions of the game — a novice edition intended for the 13-and-under level, and a normal edition, which is used by the UW and other collegiate teams — online for $20 each.However, MidwestVolleyball.com isn’t the only vendor: Waite will sell them basically anywhere he goes.”It’s obviously not something that’s going to be in Toys-R-Us or anything, but I sell them at any of the clinics we hold or go to,” he said.While Wisconsin only plays Xontro every so often — at least once a month — Waite enjoys it just as much as the players because it allows players to think for themselves, instead of needing Waite to shout commands at them all the time. The game really takes no explaining and lets the players not only learn certain aspects of the game but also teaches them how to communicate better and become a closer team.”It really takes the coach out of the process and puts the game in the player’s hand,” Waite said. “Even the scorecard is done by the subs on the sidelines so they’re telling their teammates, ‘Hey, we need to do this. Hey, you got to do this. Hey, we need three more digs.’ So they’re thinking through it, rather than just always being told by a coach what to do and just being robots out on the court.”What it does is put the game in their hands and they think through the process of how to beat different teams and how to outsmart them.”last_img

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