Billy Ketch Allen

A Mostly Volleyball Blog


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Partnerships

A friend of mine, we’ll call him AJ, was riding home with his beach partner from a disappointing tournament in San Diego when his phone vibrated. It was a text message from a higher ranked player asking to play in the next tournament. AJ texted “Let’s do it!” and then told his now ex-partner, the driver, that he would be playing the next tournament with someone else.

The car pulled off the 405 freeway and AJ was told, “Get out of my car.”

AJ had to call his wife for a ride the rest of the way home.

I’ve had a lot of partnerships over my career and I’ve enjoyed every one of them. None were left on non-speaking terms or found me stranded on the 405. Continue reading


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The Frugal Spiker

Starting out in this game is tough. Paying your way across the country to play single-elimination qualifiers in the hopes of earning enough points to one day make it straight into the main draw. It can be a big gut check to bet money on yourself, but it’s necessary. The ones who make it work, grinding through qualifier after qualifier, have at least one of these qualities: skill, money, or frugality.

Olympics Day 14 - Beach Volleyball

SKILL – The best strategy is to be better than everyone else. But because of the deep level of competition in the qualifier, it’s rare to see someone stroll to the top ranks unscathed. Even NCAA Players of the Year like Brad Keenan and Taylor Crabb fell in their first qualifier attempts. This year saw Olympians of both genders fail to qualify. But if you’re good enough you will qualify and earn a spot in the main draw. Or get picked up by a partner with enough points to carry you there. Continue reading


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Kinda Good History – Part 2

Part The Second, in which our hero Danny Kinda plyo-jumps over college, taking his talents straight to the National Team.

Danny Kinda received a lot of interest in his recruiting video and even took a tour of the UCLA campus to meet with legendary volleyball coach, Al Scates. But Danny didn’t think college was enough of a challenge so he broke in visited a National Team practice in Anaheim, California. Although the players had some raw talent, there was a lot they still had to learn about the game. So, in order to win a gold medal in the coming Olympics, Danny Kinda took on a player/coach role, teaching Team USA some volleyball basics…

Sorry, got caught up in the story again. Sometimes, it feels like Danny Kinda is writing this. This blog series is supposed to explain what really happened, so here we go.

Continue reading


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Coach Your Brains Out

In April of 2015, I started a coaching podcast with John Mayer and Nils Nielsen. We spent our first episode huddled over an iPhone talking about warmups. The conversation went all over the place and the audio was rough, but it was fun to get together and talk volley and different coaching ideas. I titled the podcast “Coach Your Brains Out” as a joke, thinking we’d come up with something better later. We never did.

Over two years and one hundred and something episodes later, we’re still going strong putting out an episode a week. We usually record remotely now and our sound has gotten better thanks to some microphones. We’ve also added Andrew Fuller to the crew. It’s crazy to look at the list below and see all the amazing guests who’ve come on and shared with us. If you’re into coaching or playing sports (especially volleyball) then this podcast is for you. I’ve learned a lot doing this podcast; it’s made me a better player and coach. That’s why I still do it. Continue reading


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Writing My First Book

I took a break from blog posts to finish another writing project. A fantasy novel!

Attempting a full book was daunting, especially with a one-year-old in the house. But I knew I could do it if I carved out enough time and stayed consistent (and ignored my kid sometimes). Between volleyball and coaching and chasing Ketch around the house…or the park…or the neighborhood, I’d find time to write every day most days.

I became a morning person. I woke up and tip-toed to the living room to get an hour or so of writing in before the little monster woke up and started slamming my laptop shut.

And it worked! Almost a year later those stolen minutes add up to a 116,000-word novel. Written twice! (If I was a better writer who got it right the first time I could have written two books in that time).

Here are some ways writing is similar to volleyball: Continue reading


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Kinda Good History – Part 1

Part The First, in which we learn the origins of the Kinda Good Plan and the birth of legendary volleyball recruit, Danny Kinda.

Danny Kinda was born in Wisconsin in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy-nine. With no boy’s volleyball in the region, our young hero elected to play on the women’s club team, the Wisconsin Waterfalls…

Okay, sorry. This is supposed to be the true account of the origins and history of Kinda Good. I promise to keep to the facts. Mostly. Continue reading


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San Francisco AVP Part 2 (A Song of Ice and Fire)

Some players make highlight reels. I am not one of those players. High-line shots aren’t included in a Best Hits montage and I’ve yet to walk around a tournament and overhear, “Did you see that routine dig Billy Allen had? That was amazing!”

My partner Stafford Slick on the other hand, is such player. Last year in San Francisco he bounced a back set in front of Casey Patterson and nearly out of the stadium before lifting off his goggles and parading around. This is now known as the Slick Slam. Part of me worries this kind of attention will set him back as he tries to top himself in front of a crowded stadium, hitting straight down instead of over the block like he is capable of. But that part of me is probably just jealous I don’t have the kind of velocity to get a hit named after me. Continue reading