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.

Drill: The Belly Drill

Synopsis: The Belly Drill is a game-play based volleyball drill which develops scrappy play and commitment to keeping the ball off the floor. It also challenges players to problem solve in the manner of “How can we get out of this drill?”

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill which can be used with all age groups and skill levels.

Requirements: A full court, enough players to be divided into 3 groups, and a supply of balls

Execution: Start by dividing your squad into teams of 3. Two teams start on the court, one on each side of the net, with the remainder waiting on the side. One of the teams starts the drill on their stomachs. Slap the ball, which is the signal for the team on the floor to get up. Then initiate the ball to that team and let the two teams play through a rally. Whichever team loses the rally goes to the floor while the winners are replaced by a waiting group.

Variations:

  • Use different ways of initiating the ball to adapt to the level of your team and what you want to work on. For example, you can initiate balls very quickly after the slap and/or use hard driven balls or tips and tosses to open court areas to challenge a more advanced group while you can go slower and use underhand lobbed balls for a less advanced or younger group.
  • The standard set-up is to use 3 players on a full court, but that can be adjusted. Additional players can be added for lower level groups. Working with a smaller court is also an option, either for lower level teams or to increase the length of rallies (and thereby touches).
  • You can set contact rules such as each player much touch the ball once to encourage communication and anticipation, or only allowing two contacts to work on scramble play.
  • You can run the drill for a fixed amount of time, until you think the players are too tired to carry on, or until some goal is reached (X number of kills, for example).

Additional Comments:

  • The question often comes up “Why not have the winners stay on rather than the losers?” The replay is generally quite obvious once someone has gone through the drill, especially when one team gets stuck on the court and has to fight hard to win a rally to get out.
  • If you have sweaty players, have them go into the down position of a push-up rather than all the way down on their stomachs to avoid leaving slippery patches on the floor.
  • The players not on the court should be alert to stray balls, making sure they stay clear of players on the court.

The 4 Key Skills for Volleyball Coaches

Volleyball coaching is primary a mental exercise. That said, however, there are a few physical skills – aside form being able to be on one’s feet for lengthy periods of time – which are quite handy to have. In fact, if you are looking to be an assistant or apprentice coach, these are virtual must-have skills since you are most likely to be an active participant in initiating drills (likewise if you coach a team by yourself).

Tossing
Quite a few volleyball drills and exercises are initiated with a toss. If you cannot accurately toss a ball then you will struggle to get the sort of consistency needed for your players to work on specific skills. If you’re in any doubt, watch what happens when your players do the tossing. Think of things like balls initiated to the setter for hitting warm-ups.You can toss either under-hand or over-hand (like a setting motion). Either is fine so long as you can consistently put the ball where you want it.

Underhand
It may seem like a fairly easy thing to do, but being consistent and accurate with an underhand ball takes a bit of practice. Anyone can pop a high loopy ball over the net and into the middle part of the court. What a coach needs to be able to do, however, is to be able to hit balls to all parts of the court and to do so at different tempos.

Topspin Hitting
Training defense, be it team or individual, requires accurately initiating an attacked ball. It could be from on the ground on the same side of the court or across the net by way of a down ball, or it could be over the net from on top of a box or chair. It could be strictly a defense drill, or it could be part of transition exercise (dig – transition – attack, for example). Regardless, you need to put the ball where you want – straight at, high/low, to one side or the other, in front – at a pace appropriate for the level of the player(s) in question.

Serving
While much of the time it makes sense to have players initiate balls in a drill with serve receive included, sometimes it behooves the coach to take that on themselves. In order to do so effectively, the ball needs to go where you want it to go much more often than not. Now obviously a float serve isn’t always going to end up exactly where you aimed it, but it should be pretty close. You also need to be able to vary the speed of the serves, and it helps to have enough of a repertoire at your disposal to replicate any kind of serve your opposition may throw at your team. That doesn’t mean you need to be able to rip a powerful jump serve yourself, but you should be able to come up with a way to simulate something close (hit topspin balls from a box midway into the court, for example).

If you are a volleyball coach without these four skills you are going to be very limited in what you can do with your team. If you’re a head coach you can get around any limitations you may have by bringing in an assistant coach to make up for the short-coming. If you’re aiming to be an assistant coach, however, you are in a disadvantaged position by lacking these abilities when it comes to finding work.

There’s no magic way to get good at any of these volleyball coaching skills. Just as with your players, it’s all about reps.

Be sure to take care of your body, though. You are just as prone to overuse injuries as the athletes, if not more so in some ways. Learn how to take the strain off your shoulder when hitting and serving, and make sure to work on your core so all the twisting from those activities doesn’t do in your back.

Graphic Help Wanted!

I need a couple of graphic elements designed for the website and related social media, if anyone out there has the skills and creativity.

Website Banner
The banner you currently see on the site is just a stock one which came with the blog theme. Obviously, I’d like something much more appropriate to the coaching volleyball concept. That banner is 940×150 pixels in size.

Twitter Photo and Header
Ideally this would match up with the website banner for the sake of consistent branding. The header has a recommended size of 1252×626 pixels, while the photo is only 73×73.

Facebook Cover and Photo
Same idea as with Twitter – something that will have brand consistency with the website banner. The photo is 160×160. The cover looks to be something like 840×310, keeping in mind that the photo overlaps part of the lower left area.

Business Card/Stationary Logo
It would be nice to be able to hand out business cards or other print materials (or PDF versions) featuring a logo for the site.

If you would like to give one or more of the above a go, let me know. You can leave a comment below or use the contact form.

Welcome to Coaching Volleyball!

The primary motivation of this website is to bring together volleyball coaches from England to their mutual benefit. The hope is that along with providing information these pages – and the associated Facebook group, Twitter account and YouTube channel – can become a virtual meeting place where the country’s volleyball coaches can collaborate and cooperate toward building a stronger base of coaching talent. That should, in turn, contribute to a stronger, richer volleyball community.

One could think of it as a kind of fraternity. The idea behind Coaching Volleyball is that it acts as a platform for the free sharing of information, ideas, opinions, and opportunities. And not just in the virtual world, but in the real world as well.

In an ideal world there would be a top level organization providing a strong platform for those interested or involved in coaching volleyball. We all know, however, that Volleyball England has limited resources, and what it does have to invest in things like academies. There’s also no big volleyball coaches group in England, like the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) in the States. The hope here is that this website can at least partly help to fill the gap for local coaches.

To help that along, the expectation is that this site will offer …

  • Programme/Club Administration and Development insights and ideas
  • Practice and Training Plan development recommendations and considerations
  • Drills & Games to use in training and practice sessions
  • Coaching Education resources and suggestions
  • Volleyball Career information and advice
  • Reviews of volleyball coaching related products, services, and other offerings

Look for articles and feature content to start filling in over the next few weeks. I will author a lot of content myself based on my own varied experience coaching volleyball at various levels and operating in numerous administrative capacities (my bio). I’m expecting, though, that others will contribute based on their own experiences. And of course discussion will be encouraged at all times.

Most important than the content, though, is the opportunity for volleyball coaches to come together in a collegial fashion to exchange information and ideas. Part of that will naturally be online through discussions, but it is hoped that there will be some live events as well – either online or off – to further the connectivity and collaboration. I’m hoping for that to include things like:

  • Webinars on topics of interest
  • Social Meetings to develop personal relationships
  • Instructional Sessions to share knowledge and experience
  • Training Cross-Collaboration to help each other out and gain added experience
  • Mentorships to help new coaches develop

To facilitate the fraternal sense mentioned above, and to keep the group small and close-knit (at least for a while) the site will be run on a membership model. In the mean time, while the site is being fleshed out and shaped, it will be open for general access.

Suggestions are more than welcome! Feel free to use the contact form to offer them or to ask any questions you might have.

Best Regards,

John Forman
Head Coach – Exeter University Volleyball Club BUCS teams
Coach – Devon Women’s Volleyball Club (NVL1)

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