Archive for John Forman

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John recently compelted a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

No, I wasn’t freaking out

The other day I was asked by a reporter after our latest match whether I was worried along the way that it would be a repeat of the prior one.

If you haven’t been following my Coaching Log entries, then I should tell you in the prior match we went up 2-0 fairly comfortably and had late leads in both the 3rd and 4th sets before losing. To my mind, a big reason for that was playing not to lose rather than continuing to play to win. In the most recent match, we again won the first two sets fairly comfortably, but then got blown out in the 3rd and had to fight to win the 4th, pulling away late.

I told the guy that while I did wonder to myself at one point whether I should be worried about a repeat performance, I’d rejected that idea as soon as it appeared in my head.

The third set was once of those fluky things that happens in volleyball sometimes. Could be a lack of focus. Could be the other team gets a motivational boost coming out of the 10 minute break. Who knows?

The fourth set was nip and tuck most of the way. We didn’t have a late lead that we conceded, as happened in the prior match. In fact, looking at where we were in the rotation, I was confident we were going to win once we got our nose ahead late.

So no. At that time I wasn’t worried that we were replaying the script from the prior match. Are there things we need to iron out in that 3rd set? For sure. But they are just part of the overall developmental process for what is still early in the season with a team largely biased toward the younger side of the age spectrum.

Coaching Log – Nov 2, 2015

This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for 2015-16.

There was only one other match besides our last week, with Örebro beating RIG. No surprise there. That pushed them to the top of the Eliteserie table on 8 points to our 7. They’ve played 4 matches, though, to our 3. There were no other Oresundliga matches, so Engelholm’s win over us sees them to of the table there on 7 points from 3 matches. Everyone else only has 2 matches, aside from Gislaved (our opponent this week) who is 0-3 thus far.

I spent a lot of time in the latter part of the prior week working on getting hold of and analyzing the video from our match. Technology issues really slowed things down. I basically ended up manually going through every attack for both teams and coding the rotation, the pass/dig, the type of set, the type of attack, and the outcome. I really wanted to take a look at our set distribution and effectiveness.

Two things really jumped out. First, the disparity between when we pass well and when we don’t. Obvious, you expect to be more effective with better passes. When we passed or dug a 3 (see the rating system) we had a 55% kill rate with only 7% errors or blocked. When our pass/dig was a 2 we had a 45% kills rate with only 5% errors/blocks. When we passed/dug a 1 our kills were only 8% and the error/block rate was 20%. I’d like to see us push the 3s up maybe 10 points and get the 2s up to 50%. As for the 3s, I think we need to flip the percentages around, more or less.

The other thing that jumped out was how few middle quicks we ran – just 7 total. Part of that was a match-up thing for that match as we ran more slides, but even still those numbers need to be much higher. I also wasn’t happy with our overall numbers for right side attacks.

Monday
We had a pair of guest players in training. They both play at RIG, but were on a school break. One of them is from Svedala and has played in various teams with the Swedish players. The other is from Ystad, which is the home town of one our players, so again known to most of the groups. That gave us an even 12.

Ball-handling was a major focus for this session. After warm-ups we did Continuous Cross-Court Digging. I instructed the hitters to pick up the power of the attacks to increase the challenge. From there we shifted to some serving and passing. I began with the setters and middles (4 players) serving to everyone else on two sides – so 3 passers and a target, with a passer rotating to target after two good passes.

To continue working on middle quicks I then shifted the setters and MBs to the net. I left two passers in on each side covering half the court, with the other two players serving. Again, a passer rotated out to go serve after two good passes. At the tail end I added in a pipe attack.

I then shifted that into Speedball Winners with fixed setters and MBs. This time the setters were back row to work on the timing with their transitions. We finished with Bingo-Bango-Bongo. I mainly did that to work on Rotation 1 when we’re in transition after reception (so the OH in 2 and OPP in 4), but we did all the rotations.

Tuesday
I met with the team for about 15 minutes before training to talk about my analysis of the video from our last match. We talked about looking to get kills more out of our good passes and digs (mainly about speeding up the offense) and in better dealing with things when we’re out of system. In the case of the latter the focus was on bettering the ball and getting our back row attackers more active. We also talked a bit about improving our block/defense, in particular with regards to how the defenders in 6 play.

Just one of the RIG players in training this session, plus our part-time MB. After warm-ups and pre-hab exercises I had the player do some partner 2-touch pepper over the net to warm-up their shoulders. That was followed by a variation of passing triplets. In this case, to work on proper platform angles I had them dig/pass down balls coming at them down the line (1 to 5, 5 to 1) to properly redirect them toward target in Zone 2.5.

My American OH had an idea of a drill to do to work on block positioning and penetration, so I let her run that next. Basically, it was liberos hitting from boxes at the pins (they tried from the ground, but they were having to hit upwards too much) against a 3-person block with the MB closing to double and the off blocking moving into defense. The blockers got a point for a stuff block or a touch that could be played by one of the 3 involved. They went until they got 50 points.

From there I broke the group in half to work on offense. The OHs and Liberos were on one court with one setter. I had one of each serving, with the other two OHs and the other Libero in serve reception working on faster sets. The OHs rotated on 5 good kills and at the same time the Liberos swapped.

On the other court I had the MBs and OPPs with the other setter. They worked on middle and right side attacks with the OPPs passing coach-tossed balls. There were 3 MBs, so one was the attacker for 5 good balls, while one was the opposing middle and the other the opposing OH for blocking purposes. After the OHs on the other court each got 1 round of 5 good sets, I had the setters switch courts. The MB/OPP group came up with some interesting play options that are worth developing further.

We finished up with 22 v 22 to get both serve receive and transition work in. The games were quite competitive, so we only got through rotations 1, 4, and 6. I had the MBs rotate so one of them was playing defense each round on the team with only one OH.

Wednesday
This was a very technically oriented session with just the core group. After warming up I had them do some positional digging in groups. Basically, on a rotating basis each player dug a ball from 2 and one from 4 (hitters on boxes), with a group target of net good digs (-1 for overpasses). We went through positions 5, 1, and 6. Then we did combined digging of cross-court balls for defenders in 1 and 2 and 5 and 6 to work on seams and tips.

I then split the team to have the setters and MBs working on the timing of 1s. The others did serving and passing. Two players passed half the court. There was a target and the other three players serving. The passing pair needed to get to +20. They got 2 points for a 3 pass, 1 point for a 2 pass, -1 for an ace or overpass.

The last exercise was a 5 v 5 game. One side had an OH, a Setter, a Libero and both MBs. The Setter was back row, leaving one MB to block in 2. The other side had one OH and a RS hitter front row, with a Setter, Libero, and OH back row. I coach served every ball to the no-MB side. The focus was on faster balls to the pin hitters, plus pipes. The receiving team got a point if they got a kill or caused the defensive team to dig 1 ball, otherwise the defensive team got the point. They played out the rallies, but I scored only based on the first attack. We played 3 games to 10 to rotate the OHs through, also moving the setters and liberos around.

The players said they liked the training – all the technical work. Honestly, though, a big part of its motivation was that they worked really hard the night before and had weight training immediately prior to practice this night. If we’d pushed things with another high intensity game-play session they probably wouldn’t have lasted very long – at least at the level of focus and effort I’d want to see.

Thursday
Our Saturday opposition (Gislaved) played a match on Tuesday night. After getting it downloaded, I created a trimmed version (no timeouts, no between set breaks, etc.) and then focused on just the 2nd set when Gislaved was nearest the camera. I made some notations in the video, then posted it up for the players to watch (with a link to see the full one if they wanted).

This time I went back to focusing on how we can attack their block/defense. For the last match I isolated the swings of their major attackers, but this time around I wanted to focus on what we’re doing. Basically, a return to the approach I was taking before.

Friday
No no returning guest players, meaning only had 9 in training (see Other stuff for the reason it wasn’t 10). After warm-up and pre-hab and some ball-handling I had the players do back court winners 3s to work on both back row attacking and defending against it as we’d likely see plenty of it on Saturday. I then ran a servers vs passers game with the OHs and RS going against the Setters, MBs, and Libero.

Basically, the rest of the session was spent running through the rotations in a 5 v 4 fashion. On the 4 side I had the Setter front row along with a MB and OH, and an OH in 6. On the 5 side the Setter was back row with the Libero and 3 front row attackers. The OH on the 4 side served to start each sequence. After that rally ended, I gave the 4 side a free ball. Rallies were played out where possible, but the scoring was based based on the first attack (kill or + attack = point for the receiving team, otherwise point for the defending side, except for a covered block which was no point for either side). We played games to 10, flipping the Setter and RS player on the 5 side, and switching the back row OH from the 4 side with the OH from the 5 side. The teams were set so they matched rotation personnel.

The offense run during that last phase was quite aggressive as we started working the OHs in some different faster sets.

Saturday
Match Day started with team photos at 10:00. We did them once in September for league website purposes, but this was actually the official shooting with all the right numbers, etc. That was followed by our hour of serve & pass at 11:00, then team lunch following. The match was at 15:00, with Gislaved in town for the first of our 4 matches against them this regular season. You may recall they were the first team we played in pre-season.

As seems to be the case so often, we really got on top of the other team early in the match. Our serving pressure really put Gislaved off their game – even forcing their best hitter to be subbed out in both sets 1 and 2 – resulting in 25-15 and 25-20 scorelines. Set 3 was one of those weird ones that happens at times. They got on top of us early and we never could claw back. It ended up 15-25. The fourth set was pretty tight, with some back and forth momentum swings. We were able to pull it out 25-22 in the end, though.

The funny thing is our passing was markedly better in sets 3 and 4 than in the first two. We sided out better in the weaker passing sets than in the better ones, though. We struggled with block positioning when we played this team the first time and did so again once more. Yes, we got 9 blocks, but that’s actually a bit below our average.

Thoughts and observations
Overall the energy and intensity level was good. We did some interesting new things on offense in terms of diversifying the attack and going faster. I still think our defense could be much better in certain respects, though being better in the block is part of that.

Other stuff
One of my liberos spoke with me before training on Tuesday. She’s going to be starting a new job in the not-too-distant future. The result is that she probably won’t be staying with the team. In fact, on Friday at about midday she let the team know via the Facebook group that she wouldn’t be training that night or attending Saturday’s match. Surprise! That sees us down to 9 for the core squad, which is tough. I need to look at options for getting more alternative bodies involved.

Too much thinking about the opponent

There was an article a while back about the concept of Big Game Syndrome. It focuses on football, but the idea applies to any sport.

The article describes Big Game Syndrome as a situation where a team or coaching staff feels they must do even more work and be even more uptight than usual when facing a perceived important game or match. The prime example provided was football teams facing the New England Patriots. The view is that they need to do something extra special to outsmart Bill Belichick. The result is decision-making which goes down poor paths.

While coaching in Sweden once, I found myself wondering if I’d succumb to a version of Big Game Syndrome with respect to my team’s matches. We spent the better part of a week talking about that match. In particular, we focused on the other team’s big attacker. The result was that we were probably too focused on the other team and not focused enough on us.

Of course there are times when looking for any possible edge you can find to win is important. To my mind, though, I felt afterwards like I made the mistake of doing that sort of thing at a time when our focus should have been the development of our game.

On the face of it, the fact we went up 2-0 suggests I was wrong. Maybe we spent the right amount of time on scouting and game planning. The fact of the matter is, though, we won those sets despite not playing very well. This was especially in the first set. We didn’t get a kill until our 10th attack. The other team kept us in it by missing a bunch of serves.

The over-thinking element came into play later in the match. We felt the pressure of trying to fend the other team off when we had late leads. It made us hesitant and cautious and led to some poor decisions.

Parents laughing in training?

I don’t know the percentage of professional volleyball teams that have parents of the players attending training sessions. My guess is it’s not very high, though I’m sure in some places and at some levels it’s more frequent than at others. Sweden may be one of those places. Certainly, it was true in my case at Svedala.

To be fair, I coached at what is basically a local community club. We had the professional level team competing in the Elitserie, the top level of Swedish volleyball. We also had a 2nd team playing in Division 1 south, the second level of volleyball in Sweden. Although there’s no league age restriction, our 2nd team was effectively a Juniors squad based on their ages. Below that we had actual Juniors level teams, and then down to some really little ones – well south of U12s. Overall, there was something like 100 club members.

My own team featured two players whose families lived in town. A couple of players were originally from up north, while the rest were from other parts of southern Sweden. And of course I had three Americans. It’s the parents of the two local players who periodically turned up to training sessions – and boy did they enjoy themselves!

In training one Tuesday night I could hear at least the two moms laughing uproariously.

Yes, they were laughing at the team. No, this wasn’t the first time.

To be fair, it wasn’t ridiculing type laughter. That sort of thing means ejection from my gym. Rather, this was genuine comedic laughter at what they saw and heard from the players on the court.

I’m not talking slap-stick type stuff here. Yeah, there’s some of that. The team was pretty loose. They work hard, but they had fun as well. Invariably, that led to some funny things happening. More than that, though, I think is the sound track that went along with it all. A couple of my louder, more talkative players were also the source of some funny comments and reactions mid-rally.

Old school analysis

In modern volleyball there are any number of applications and technological tools that can be applied to coaching. DataVolley, for example, is widely used for statistical and video analysis. There is also VolleyMetrics, for those who want to outsource this time of work. These things cost money, though, and not everyone has that – or the staff to put it to use. That means sometimes you have to revert to old school methods.

That’s what I found myself doing late last week. I wanted to do a thorough analysis of our match from last Tuesday – a disappointing loss in which we were up 2-0 and had leads late in both Sets 3 and 4. Not having a better option at hand, I went through the video and wrote out the rotation, pass/dig rating, set, attack type, and result for every non-serve ball played over the net by us and the opposition. I then plugged that into a spreadsheet so I could break it down.

Yeah. Fun stuff! :-/

We do have official match stats, though they are of dubious value – especially the first version of them. We also use SoloStats on the bench during matches to keep track of serve reception stats and to examine rotation performance. I needed, though, to be able to drill down and cross-section things to get a better handle on what we’re doing well and what not so well.

I’m hoping we can eventually come up with a better way to do all this, but it’s a small club with a limited budget. I may have to go this route for all our matches.

What were my findings, you ask?

Well, one big one is that we need to be much better out of system. We got kills only 8% of the time as opposed to making errors or getting blocked on 20% of the plays. Work to be done!

Coaching Log – Oct 26, 2015

This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for 2015-16.

Generally speaking, the weekend league results went probably about as might be expected. Gislaved won 3-0 over the youngsters at RIG and Lindesberg won 3-0 over Sollentuna. We might have expected Örebro to have a harder time with Engleholm than a 3-0, but they seemed to be able to contain Engelholm’s main attacker. This was of interest to us as we played the latter on Tuesday.

Those results have the league table looking very top-heavy, though Hylte/Halmstad and Svedala remain on top despite playing one fewer match.

ElitserieTable-18 Nov. 2015

Click for full-sized version

Obviously, it’s too early to make any real strong forecasts, but the distribution of results so far does tend to suggest it will be a 6-team race for the four places available in the Gran Prix. Those spots are based on the first half of league play, which basically means up to the December break.

As noted, Engelholm was on our schedule for Tuesday – at their place. This is one of the domestic matches which also counts toward standing in the Oresundliga. A win would see us go top of both that and the Elitserie.

Monday
Had a sick player, so only 9 healthy bodies in training. I allowed the players to determine a warm-up exercise to do. They opted for a new variation on volley tennis. From there the focus was on preparation for Tuesday’s match, but mainly from the perspective of working on long-term developmental needs as well.

After getting their shoulders warmed up for serving, I had them do some serving against a 4-person reception formation, which is what we were expecting to primarily see in Tuesday’s match. I used boxes to have them work on hitting the seams.

From there we did some serving and passing with one setter and a MB in to have the latter working on hitting the corners. This is something that we observed would likely be successful against Tuesday’s opposition, but is something I’ve wanted to get our MBs better at generally anyway.

After that we did a cooperative cross-court drill with the attacking from 2. I had the two MBs and the libero rotating around through the setting positions on both sides. The two starting OHs stayed in 6 while the Setters and OPPs flipped back and forth between positions 1 and 2. Again, this was to work on something defensively for Tuesday, but we also could stand the work on defense on that side of the court in any case.

Next up was back court attack Winners 3s. The last part of the session was a team serve reception through all 6 rotations with 3 blockers. Myself and the team manager were the servers. The focus was on attacking to certain areas of the court.

Overall, I think it was a good preparation session for the next day’s match.

Tuesday
Really tough match. We went up 2-0 in the match, and were up late in both sets 3 and 4, but ended up losing. A case could be made that we didn’t deserve on our own merits to have the 2-0 lead, but the other team made a lot of mistakes – especially in serve – to keep us in contention. At different points they swapped both their setter and libero. We definitely struggled to contain their strong OPP but my feeling overall was that we tightened up at the end of the 3rd and 4th sets and were playing not to lose.

The official match stats are a joke, so I can’t really use them for much in the way of analysis. Our bench stats point to major struggles scoring in Rotations 1 and 6 (using the international rotation labeling system based on where the setter is). In prior matches were were consistently above 50% overall, but this time only Rotation 5 was that high. That was our starting rotation, so it’s a positive from that perspective (and we sided out at 77%). Those other two rotations were below 30% in terms of point scoring, and in the case of Rotation 1 we sided out less than 50% as well. Despite passing only 1.80 for the match as a team, we still managed to side out at 57%. Admittedly, that was boosted by all the opposition’s missed serves.

I’m going to need to really go over the video and re-stat the match myself (probably at least the other Elitserie matches we’ve played as well) to do a thorough analysis . Generally speaking, though, we continue to suffer from a lack of composure. There were a number of inexplicable errors and poor decisions.

Despite the loss, we still temporarily went to the top of the standings in the Elitserie on the basis of earning a point for winning two sets. We also got a point in the Oresundliga, where we now sit 3rd.

Wednesday
I sat the team down before training to talk about the previous night’s match. It was a positive, productive meeting. There was a sense of anger about losing, but no one was down about it. Everyone was eager to move forward and get better.  I started it off by getting the observations of the players who were on the bench. Communication and defensive responsibility issues were mentioned. We talked about playing not to lose and getting too conservative in crunch time.

One of the more interesting parts of the discussion was on ways to improve training. There was talk about trying to incorporate more positional relationships in the game-like exercises – meaning making the line-ups more closely approximate match-day rotations. The issue there is not overworking players and trying to give them opportunities to be challenged in all their roles, which is the tricky part of having such a limited roster. I need to give the MBs breaks and I need to give my OHs the chance to play back row as well as front row.

We also talked about incorporating more drills in training. Not surprisingly, the desire for “more reps” motivated this from the player perspective. In parallel, though, my American OH expressed her feeling that the load of the game play exercises was too high for her – that by the latter parts of training she was telling our setter not to give her the ball. The players may not have realized this, but we have actually been doing more drills in training since the season started. The point on the game-play load is one I need to think more about. In particular, it occurs to me that perhaps the small-sided stuff I usually do before we shift to full-team games could be dropped or cut back – or counted as part of the game-play portion of training if I’m using them to focus on specific elements.

The actually training after the meeting was meant to mainly be recovery oriented – work on a few technical things and generally keep the bodies active. After they warmed-up and played a bit of volley tennis, I split out the setters to do some reps. For the American setter it was to work on the consistency of her sets for the OHs – each of which needs a slightly different height. For the young Swedish setter it was about working on her mechanics, in particular on her back sets. While that was going on, the rest of the players played 2 v 2 games of 2-touch.

After that, I brought everyone together for what was a serving and passing focused game at it’s core, but with a couple other elements. Each side had a MB and Setter front row, with an OH, Libero, and OPP in the back row. The teams alternated serving. The primary objective was to run the MBs on front and back quicks, but if that wasn’t on, they could attack out of the back row. We thus had the passers focused on getting good passes so the MBs could run their attacks, and the middles had a chance to attack against a solid 3-person defense to work on finding the gaps. The energy and attitudes were good. The passers did well, resulting in the middles getting some really nice swings.

Friday
I had planned for a few weeks to give everyone this day off. We don’t have a match until next Saturday and for the most part haven’t had more than a single day off at a time since we started training. The Swedish players primarily work or go to school, so for them it was a break to do some of their own things. For the Americans it was a few clear days to do whatever (they had talked about taking a trip) – and to allow aching bodies to recover some. I told them after Wednesday’s training to make sure they stayed active so that Monday’s training wasn’t some kind of shock to the system.

Thoughts and observations
Losses are great motivators for change. I’ve been feeling like in some ways we were winning despite our performance. To a certain degree, that was even true in the first part of Tuesday’s match when we won the first set in large part because the other team made so many errors. I’ve identified some of the broader issues in need of focus before (e.g. lack of composure), so in this case it’s not about a major change in concentration.

That said, I do feel like I need to really map out where I want the team to be going into the play-offs. Then it becomes a question of getting buy-in from the team and plotting the path toward that destination.

Other stuff
I spent a lot of the latter part of the week trying to sort through video and statistical analysis options, applications, and efforts. We have access to a very basic version of DataVolley (Media) which has no video integration. Part of what I was trying to do was learn about the options we might be able to use to overcome that and to get to the point where I can do a more specific analysis of different segments of play. Because of my internet access limitations, it took me a LONG time getting the match video from Tuesday downloaded so I could share it with the team and go through an do my own analysis (and eventually to pull individual player clips).

I was approached by our second team coach on Friday about using up to 6 of the first team players on a Svedala team for a national U23 tournament the first weekend of November. We have no matches then (because of said tournament), and nothing until the following Sunday, so no issue on my end. It’s up to the players if they want to take part.

Dealing with perfectionists

Once in training I had my Svedala team doing a defensive drill. It was a very repetitive digging exercise. I’m not a big fan of that block type training, but sometimes I use drills like that to examine things. Or maybe I want to work on some of the mental aspects of being a volleyball player.

This drill featured defenders in positions 1 and 5. They dug first a line attack and then a cross-court hit (or maybe it was the other way around). They had to individually reach a score of 15. For each good dig they earned a point. For an overpass they lost one.

My main motivation for running this particular exercise was to see where the players were at in terms of platform control while digging the ball. In other words, were they able to keep their platform pointed toward the central part of the court when they had to move/reach for a ball or when digging a line hit?

Answer: Not as well as I’d like.

The other thing I observed during this drill was just how much perfectionism there is in the team. I heard players yell and curse at themselves. They made faces. I even saw one slap the floor in frustration. It was quite the spectacle!

This sort of behavior is actually one of the reasons I like to use a lot of up-tempo, quick ball initiation activities. Players who are prone to be hard on themselves for mistakes have that process short-circuited when they immediately have to do something else. It encourages focusing on your next responsibility and on letting go of mistakes.

This, however, must go hand-in-hand with having a training atmosphere which is accepting of errors as part of the developmental process.

The importance of how we as coaches talk about errors

The other day Mark Lebedew shared a video clip on his Facebook page. If features USA and UCLA men’s coach John Speraw talking about how errors are handled in coaching volleyball. I would embed it here for easy viewing directly. It’s got some privacy settings, though, which don’t allow that. You’ll need to click the link. It’s definitely worth checking out.

The video is only about a minute long, but it summarizes quite nicely my own views on the subject.

Basically, John talks about the importance of addressing the subject of errors with players and the team in a way that avoids them being afraid of making mistakes. Instead, coaches should encourage risk taking as part of the development process. This is something I’ve written about before. It’s one of the first things I talk about with any team I take charge of when we have our first meeting.

Professional volleyball country league rankings

When I took the job coaching at Svedala in Sweden I knew the Swedish league was not generally ranked highly compared to other European domestic leagues. What I wasn’t really sure about, beyond some vague sense, was how they actually ranked. Then I found out.

Mark Lebedew pointed me to the CEV’s club rankings. It is what they use to allocate spots in the Champions League, CEV Cup, and Challenge Cup. They also use them to determine seedings.

There’s a limitation to these rankings, however. They are basically based on performance in CEV competition. If a country doesn’t ever send teams to play in them, they never get any ranking points. As such, they have some limits. The rankings at the top end might be pretty reasonable. Once you start dropping down the list, though, they are going to be less representative of relative levels of play.

In the case of Sweden, clubs generally don’t enter CEV competition. They do not feel the benefit matches the expense and considerable travel. The same mindset is clearly at work in many other countries as well.There are 20+ nations in each gender listed with zero points.

The other thing to consider is just how deep some of these leagues are. In some cases, not very deep at all. They rank high in the CEV table, though, because they have a couple of teams that do really well in those competitions (or maybe just one). This can mask the fact that their domestic league is not really all that good once you get past the first 1 or 2 places.

Needless to say, looking at the CEV rankings isn’t quite as helpful as looking at the NCAA RPI rankings to figure out where the various conferences in US collegiate volleyball rank. It’s at least a starting point, though.

The next question I have is how the different leagues rank from a coaching quality of life and opportunity perspective.