At its core, Haikyuu!! is about volleyball and specifically, the Kurasuno High volleyball team. Everyone’s focused on volleyball and everyone goes through life as they do on the court. You can learn all you’d ever want to know about volleyball by the time you get to Haikyuu’s 4th season, but TO THE TOP especially has some lessons all of us can learn.
Lesson 1: There is Opportunity Even in Defeat
They say it ain’t over till it’s over, but what happens after that? Hinata sneaks into Tsuki’s training camp uninvited but the head coach is not having it. No matter what, Hinata is not to be included in training, instead regulated to ball-boy. When doing his best leaves him still side-lined, a moment of defeat gives way to insight. Hinata turns this downgrade into an opportunity to observe the ball and how teams play as a whole.
We’ll get denied the things we try so hard for sometimes, but there’s always something to be gained even if we’re at first too disappointed to see it. There’s always something to learn, improve, or approach differently to get the max benefit out of a situation.
Lesson 2: Focus on Your Weaknesses, Not Just Strengths
Hinata’s speed and surprise air on the court have always shocked his teammates and adversaries alike. The mock youth camp robs Hinata of his ability to show off his strengths but allows him the chance to work on his weaknesses. Much better at offense than defense, it takes him a long time to stop the ball with his arms rather than his face. But by learning to compensate and strategize his own weak points, Hinata becomes better at planning his attacks.
Especially when trying to be successful, we tend to focus on what we’re already good at and push from there. It’s important to hone our skills but if you want to be the best in your area, you can’t rely on just that. Instead of ignoring your weaknesses, learn to improve or work around them.
Lesson 3: Don’t Change Yourself for Others, Adapt
Kageyama is constantly followed by his past reputation as the King of the Court, a player so self-focused he considered his team nothing more than his pawns. When Kageyama snaps at gentle Asahi in episode 7, it seems that everything he’s worked towards will fall apart. Hinata makes a surprisingly profound point in asking why it matters if Kageyama is bossy or rude naturally. Hinata’s not going to listen anyway! Expression is ok and while his teammates shouldn’t have to go along with whatever Kageyama wants, to an extent Kageyama should be able to say what he’s feeling.
Being a people pleaser may make you more palatable to more people, but you should really be yourself. Alter how you express yourself to different people, like Kageyama in how he talks to Asahi versus Hinata, but don’t think you have to stifle yourself.
Lesson 4: If You Can’t Do It, Do It Until You Can
In a flashback, we see Kanoka crying after having started volleyball at Tanaka’s suggestion. Kanoka practices and practices but she just can’t seem to improve. Ready to give up, she asks Tanaka what she should do. He thinks seriously about it and says “If you can’t do it, just keep practicing until you can!” It seems like useless advice but in actuality, sometimes it’s the only thing you can do.
Our bodies and our minds tend to plateau and we cannot keep a constant path of progress. It will feel like no matter what, we can’t improve for much longer than most people feel like continuing. It’s frustrating and demoralizing, but just because you stop improving for a long time doesn’t mean you’ve reached your limit.
Lesson 5: There’s More Than One Way to Tackle a Problem
Haikyuu!! manages to create numerous teams all with different strategies and play styles while still remaining realistic. Karasuno is not just a magic team that works hard and rises above its challenges. Every unique player makes up the overall team strategy and coaches use their similarly gifted players differently. Each team is valid in their play style and it’s usually something like luck or circumstance that seals the fates of these excellent teams.
Different things work for different people and figuring out HOW you want to be successful is just as important as the success itself.
You’d think that with 4 seasons, perhaps Haikyuu!! would start to become repetitive. This anime has done an amazing job of keeping both the game and the characters engaging and dynamic. Whether you love volleyball or not, there are things you can learn alongside the talented players of Karasuno High. Take these lessons with you and apply them to anything you set your heart on!