Archive for Volleyball Coaching News & Info

Improving pre-match warm-ups

The question of how to handle pre-match warm-ups is one that comes to mind every season. I’m not the only one who finds that. Here’s a question I got from a coach in Hawaii.

I have been coaching boys high school volleyball for 27 years now and am always looking for ways to educate and improve myself. We just finished the season losing a well played match, so a loss I can live with. In any case most of our players are multi sport so the little time we have to work with them has to be jammed packed with info and training. Sorry so long winded and I do have a question in here but stared checking you site and I do enjoy reading the articles and the different drills.

Now my question: I am looking for a better warm up drill before each match. The warm ups go as follows just before the match both teams have a 5 minute shared on there respective sides of the net. Then each team has a 5 minute on court (hitting) and 5 off court (digging usually)…. it’s the 5 minutes hitting that I wanted help with or to do something different with. So the routine is I along with another coach will toss balls to the hitters to assure an accurate set in which to hit the ball. I would estimate each player gets about 4-6 good swings. Then we’ll go to a 6 ON where the starting six with the position players are are placed in there position. The coach will toss a free ball and players move accordingly and execute pass set hit and cover…. any thoughts are welcome…

I have to admit, I like the simplicity of FIVB warm-ups. Shared hitting is the biggest part. The first four minutes are through 4, and the second four minutes are through 1 (I actually thought four minutes was took long, but those are the rules). Two minutes of shared serving wraps things up. My teams in England did a dynamic warm-up, then just peppered until it was time. My Svedala team mixed in a defensive drill run by the players.

I know a lot of coaches don’t like shared hitting. That’s fine. Admittedly, it does lack game-like elements. My general feeling, though, is that what we do in women’s college these days with the 4-4-5-5 thing is a bit ridiculous. That’s after already spending 30+ minutes warming-up on your own half of the court!

Moreover, I sometimes see coaches do 30-60 minutes of “serve and pass” right before warm-ups begin. I wrote about this in my post about match-day serve and pass sessions. Seems excessive to me.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s get back to the email inquiry above.

What is the purpose of warm-ups?

We need to ask the question, what is the purpose of our pre-match warm-up?

I think the automatic response is to prepare for the upcoming competition. Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Well, there’s a line of reasoning that takes a different view. It suggests that warm-ups are just one more developmental opportunity. You need to decide which point of view you favor because that factors into the best use of your warm-up time.

Consider the warm-up described above where coaches toss balls to hitters for a certain amount of time. If you take a “warm-ups are learning time” point of view, then you probably would not want coaches tossing to hitters. Those are low quality reps for learning purposes. Plus, that leaves out an opportunity for players to also work on passing and setting – maybe serving too. It’s the coaches who get the most reps in this sort of exercise. And if the setting is so poor as to argue for coaches tossing, then the setters definitely need more reps!

Now, if you are taking more the “preparation to play” perspective on warm-ups, then maybe the coach toss hitting makes sense. Personally, I’m not so sure.

The purpose of the coach toss seems to be to get the hitters “good” reps. What is a “good” rep, though? Is it good from the perspective that it replicates the type of hitting they will do in the match? Sounds like probably not. Instead, it seems like these are mainly feel good reps. If that’s the case, is there a better way to get a similar psychological effect?

Mixing both approaches

During the 2016 season at MSU we eventually settled on a warm-up pattern that seemed to work. Our first four minutes on court was split in half. The first two minutes were the pin hitters receiving served balls and attacking sets from their passes. The second two minutes was the middles attacking, still off passed balls. This was a time where we could insert a bit of coaching. Just pull a player aside after they completed a rep.

In our five minute segment we did four minutes of just free ball initiated rallies and finished with a minute of serving. We didn’t start the year doing the free ball rally thing. It was something we switched to early on, though, and kept it. What better prepares you to play volleyball than playing volleyball? It was full-blooded hitting, blocking, and defense that really got the intensity level up.

Could we have created more of a learning opportunity with that latter segment? Probably. We went with free balls mainly for the sake of keeping the tempo high. We could, however, have initiated balls in certain ways to replicate something we wanted to work on. Also, we could have dictated certain types of playing patterns. For example, the first ball must be a high ball to the OH.

My thoughts

Returning to the question of the 5-minute warm-up time the coach above asked about, here’s something I would at least try. Jump straight into free ball rallies. The easy first ball should guarantee a decent set to start the play and things will proceed from there. The players should already be more than warm enough to jump and hit by this point, so that’s not the real issue.

If the players are not quite ready to go into game play, first try to figure out if you could do something different beforehand to get them ready. If so, you will make your warm-ups more effective and efficient. Maybe you do need to insert something like a little hitting into the over-the-net period, though. That’s fine. When all is said and done, even if you want to make your warm-up development, it still needs to leave the players in a good position to play.

 

Help MSU Volleyball go to Buenos Aires

The other day I wrote a post about the work I’m doing to organize a team trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the Midwestern State University (MSU) Volleyball team. We are in the active fund-raising stage and could really use some help. Our working estimated cost is $65,000, the bulk of which is air fare. That is probably on the high side as we used a slightly high player count. Even still, the trip will require a lot of money to make happen.

This is no bake sale fund raising situation. Yes, we are doing events to bring in funds. Last year we hosted a kick-off event for the local high school teams, and will do so again this year. We get to keep most of the gate receipts. We’re also running clinics and doing some other things as well. All of that is likely to cover maybe 30% of the cost, though.

The rest has to come from donations and/or sponsorships.

This is where you come in. We want your money! 🙂

We set up a donations page on the university’s Development site. Right now we are able to access matching funds for anyone who has not donated to MSU in the last five years. There is only a limited amount left, though, and it isn’t just dedicated to volleyball. It’s first-come, first-served. Needless to say, we’re pushing hard to get donations in ASAP so they can be matched.

If you can help, there’s no donation too small. Especially when you double it!

For those who want to think a bit bigger…

Interested in a sponsorship opportunity?

Our Athletic Director will allow us to create a sponsorship agreement with any business who contributes meaningfully to the trip. That means inclusion in all trip publicity, social media, match-day announcements, and any other way we can think of to get the word out. Obviously, though, we need to make sure there are no conflicts with current sponsors.

As an alternative – or parallel – opportunity, you can become site sponsor for CoachingVB.com in exchange for a sufficiently large donation. This site is well respected and frequently read among volleyball coaches (see this post for some details). There is an associated Facebook page, as well as a Twitter account. I also have a growing email list of volleyball coaches.

Contact me to talk more about possible sponsorship arrangements. That goes for either this website or MSU Volleyball – or both. We can go into further detail from there.

A different exciting volleyball trip

coaching professional volleyball

I wrote in Planning an exciting volleyball team trip about the process of planning an international team trip. I have also been working on an individual volleyball trip. This one will happen a bit sooner than the other – next month, in fact.

I’m going to Poland, one of the true hotbeds of volleyball. Alas, I won’t be able to experience much of that this time (though I did back in 2014). Unfortunately, the Polish professional season will be over then.

No, this trip will not be about being a spectator.

Instead, I’m going to observe a national team training camp. My friend, and Volleyball Coaching Wizards partner, Mark Lebedew is running his first camp as Australian Men’s National Team coach. He’s doing it where he currently coaches in the Polish PlusLiga – the club Jastrzębski Węgiel.

More than just watching Mark coach, though – I’ve done that before – this camp will actually see a bit of a coaching gathering. Mark is expecting a number of visiting coaches during the camp. It could make for a really interesting gathering. We may use the opportunity to record some Volleyball Coaching Wizards podcasts featuring show guests. Be assured that I’ll report back on what I see and hear.

I’m also using the trip to Europe to visit Husum in Germany (north of Hamburg on the coast near Denmark). Fellow volleyball coaching blogger Oliver Wagner is part of a group looking to form a new men’s professional club team there to join Bundesliga1 – Germany’s top professional league. It’s called WattVolleys. They hope to have everything in place for the 2018-19 season. I’m going see what’s they are up to.

Of course I can’t make a trip across the Atlantic without returning to my old stomping grounds in England. I plan to visit with my coaching friend Alex Porter, who runs the program at the University of Essex. Unlike my situation at Exeter, Alex has a full-time job at Essex. He runs the volleyball performance program. Basically, you can think of that as being similar to a US college program in that he’s got scholarships to offer student-athletes, and other support. Essex is also one of Volleyball England’s Senior Academies. I look forward to learning about the set up there.

The trip won’t be all about volleyball, though. I expect to meet up with friends in England, and maybe connect with my PhD supervisor as well.

Planning an exciting volleyball team trip

If you’ve read my volleyball coaching log entries for this year you’ll know one of the things I’ve been working on at Midwestern State University (MSU) is a volleyball team trip to Argentina. Specifically, we are planning to go to Buenos Aires in August.

This is a trip I thought about almost from the start of my time here. MSU Volleyball has never done a foreign trip. It’s a big thing to propose, particularly because of the cost. For that reason, I put forward the idea to use my contacts rather than to do a traditional “tour”.

Not the usual foreign tour

Actually, there were a couple of reasons not to go the normal route of working with a company. Expected cost savings was one of them. Importantly, though, we also did not want to follow the standard structure of many tours. Most tours involve a lot of traveling around – moving from city to city. Volleyball sometimes only seems to be a minor consideration. This is because you mainly hear about NCAA Division I teams going on tour, and that means doing it in the off-season. For example, they go during Spring Break.

At MSU we’re in Division II where the rules are a bit different. In Division I they are not allowed to do a foreign tour within I believe 30 days prior to the start of preseason. This is not the case in Division II. As a result, we can do our trip in August. The timing, though, has to fit in with Summer school because some of our players will take classes. The second Summer term ends August 10th, so we’ve planned to leave on the trip August 12th. That actually means doing the trip during part of our preseason, which officially starts on about August 15th.

Trip timing

It may sound a bit strange to do a foreign trip during preseason, but stay with me.

The NCAA rules allow a team 10 days of training prior to going on a foreign trip. That means we can actually start our preseason preparations on about August 1st. Seeing the method to our madness here?

With another team – say one with a lot of experienced players – this might not be something we’d want to do. In our case, however, we have a bunch of new players coming in to the team for the Fall – 5 freshmen and a transfer. Some of them are candidates to make the starting team. We are also in the process of building a strong team culture. The extra time together this trip creates gives us a chance to really integrate all these players, both into the program and into playing together.

This scheduling of our trip overlapping preseason mandates another consideration. I mentioned that most tours seem to do a lot of traveling. We don’t want that for our own trip. We basically want a training camp – trip where volleyball will feature heavily. Obviously, we want to do lots of cultural stuff as well, but practice and competition needs to take a lead role.

Why Buenos Aires

All of this leads to a decision to make a trip where we can stay in one place – not travel all the time. There is also the question of time zone changes as well as there being opportunities to play decent competition. Buenos Aires ticks all the boxes. While the travel length is similar as a trip to Europe, it’s only three time zones. It’s a big city, with plenty to do. There’s lots of volleyball, and they will not be in Summer holiday while we’re there like many European clubs would be in August. It will be winter there, which while not particularly cold will be a nice break from the Texas heat. Plus, I have contacts from there.

Getting it done

So at this point we’re in the planning phase. That means a couple of things.

First of all, we’ve already made arrangements for group travel. That process was basically the commitment to doing the trip as we needed to put down a 10% deposit. Travel, as you might expect, is a big part of the cost of the trip. It will probably turn out to be about 60% when all is said and done.

Second, thanks to one of my coaching connects we have someone on the ground in Buenos Aires working on the details for us. He’s heavily connected in the volleyball world down there, but he’s also helping to arrange transportation and a place to stay. I’ve been having exchanges with him about our needs and expectations, which aren’t too major.

Fund raising

Third, and probably most important, is the fund raising. We figured on a total cost of $65,000 for the trip, which is a big chunk of money. Our final costs will probably come in a bit under that because we budgeted for a slightly larger travel party than we expect to take. Still, the price tag will be substantial.

We already have some money raised. We hosted a bunch of high school matches in our facility at the start of last season, which brought in a decent amount of money. That is something we already plan to repeat – potentially even bigger. Unfortunately, that happens right before our trip, making budgeting a little trickier. We’re also running a series of clinics for young kids in May which will bring in another chunk of money, and there are some other things in the works.

The trouble is while these fund raising events do bring in money, the amounts won’t be anywhere near enough to cover the trip. We need donations, or potentially sponsorships for the bulk of the funding. We’ve set up a page on the university’s Development site (look for MSU Volleyball – Buenos Aires Trip in the list).

Not going with GoFundMe

We considered something like GoFundMe, but went this route for a couple of reasons. First, GoFundMe charges 5% plus the credit card processing fee. The university doesn’t charge us anything. Second, money donated through the Development website gets credited to our account directly without us having to do anything.

Third, and most meaningfully, there’s the potential for donation matching. We were told of a pot of money available to match contributions from people who are not prior donors. There isn’t a ton left, and it’s not just dedicated to us, but any amount we can get helps us move in the direction of our goal. Needless to say, as soon as our page was ready on the site we started encouraging donations to get that matching going in our favor.

Going after bigger fish

Alongside the individual donation side of things, we’re exploring bigger potential sources. This includes the likes of local businesses, and perhaps the university itself. We met with someone the other day who suggested we really pitch the trip from the perspective of spreading the university brand overseas. He saw that as a way to motivate some internal funding. I will also possibly meet with members of the local Lion’s club to talk about what we’re doing. Our Athletic Director indicated his willingness to set up a sponsorship arrangement with businesses who contribute to the trip, which could be useful.

Onward and upward!

Thoughts, suggestions, etc.?

If you have any recommendations for me, I’m happy to hear them. They could be to do with managing the trip, or about fund raising. If you have organized a trip, or managed a large fund raising campaign, your thoughts and experience are very welcome. Just leave a comment below or contact me directly.

Volleyball England making a turn

When I coached in England I wrote an article about the competition/participation conflict. I wrote a follow-up when I got a reply to it from someone at Volleyball England. I also talked about it with U.K. coach Jefferson Williams, whose interview is one of those in the first Volleyball Coaching Wizards book. The focus of those pieces is on the challenge of developing competitive teams, clubs, and structures when increasing participation is also a priority – sometimes is the bigger priority.

At that time, Volleyball England was very focused on growing participation. It was part of the mandate of their funding from higher up. That apparently has changed.

A new focus has developed at V.E. They describe it as “core market”. A recent letter from the newly appointed Core Market Officer clarifies what that means:

For me, the simple answer is that the core market is made up of anyone involved in organised, competitive volleyball. These people could be players, officials, coaches or volunteers. They might be operating in a formal club environment but could just as easily sit outside a club structure – in a school or a youth organisation for example.

They could be participating within an officially sanctioned VE environment or even outside (more of that later). And they will represent the whole range of playing standards from novice to elite and from junior to senior.

What the core market will not include are those people who may only be playing occasional recreational volleyball; people over whom we have negligible influence.

That last part is the big shift. For years V.E. encouraged efforts to get more people into the sport, even if that was just on an “occasional recreational” basis. Clearly, that is no longer the case. The concentration now is on the competitive side of things.

I, for one, agree with this move. It’s the competitive side of the sport that in the long run drives participation. V.E. needs to raise the profile of volleyball in that country. The more visible it is, the more interest there will be in playing the game. The greatest visibility is always on the competitive side. People see the game played and become interested in playing. That’s how a sport grows.

Now to actually get that going. Have a look at the article to see how the plan to do that.

Olympic Training Center here I come!

The learning and coaching education never stops!

I’m back on the educational circuit once more this week. I am off to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for the USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Clinic. It’s is run annually this time of year. As you may have read, I previously attended back in 2015.

That edition had a strong international flavor. Julio Velasco (Argentina) and Laurent Tillie (France) spoke. This looks much more domestic. I expect a heavy dose of Olympic talk given how the teams performed in Rio. Sitting is included. I believe multiple members of that staff on-hand are to speak. The speaker list is actually quite long. It is just really a 2-day event, after all.

Before the clinic, though, there is CAP. That is the Coaches Accreditation Program, and I’m sitting the Level III edition. Actually, CAP is both before and after the clinic. We go all of Wednesday, most of Thursday, then again all day Sunday. Earning CAP III will put my US certification on the same level number as my England certification. 🙂

Look for posts about both the clinic and CAP III as I have time to write them.

A rethink happening at Volleyball England

An article came out from Volleyball England recently. It’s a rather frank discussion of where things are at with that organization. In it they talk about the likelihood of losing funding from higher up, which is a regular issue. I wrote before about how much of VE’s funding came on the basis of increasing participation in sports. It leads to some issues in terms of participation/competition conflicts.

It sounds like the leadership – or at least what they are hearing from membership – have realized the focus on participation in recent years has led them astray. In the article they talk about getting back to their main purpose.

“In the quest to drive up volleyball participation in recent years, we rather lost sight of who we were supposed to serve and support. We will now rectify this.”

That’s an admirable statement. I’ll be curious to hear from my friends closely connected to V.E. to hear their thoughts on the subject. Clearly, the organization needs to develop its own sources of revenue to avoid such a major reliance from government sources.

Looking back on 2016, and ahead to 2017

This time last year I did a review of what had been a really interesting year of 2015. It’s interesting to look back at that, and in particular the things I had in mind for the new year, and compare it to what actually happened. That being the case, here’s a similar look back for 2016 and look forward to 2017.

Education

Well, I finally completed all my PhD requirements. It ended up taking about 3 years and 4 months. I submitted the finished version of my dissertation in January and received notice of the conferral of my degree in February. Here’s the letter I received. The picture is from when I was reading it on my phone as I waited for my baggage at LAX.

I did not actually attend graduation in July (I think I was doing camp), but they sent me a copy of my diploma. One of these days I might get around to framing it or something. 🙂

On I guess you could call a related subject, I taught my first college course during the Fall semester. It was a volleyball activity class, so not exactly something academically rigorous. I did have them take a midterm and submit final papers, though.

Job

This time last year I was in Sweden coaching the women’s team at Svedala in the country’s top league. The team finished the first half of the 2015-16 season on top of the standings. We had also done well in the Oresundliga, and had won a pre-season tournament in Denmark. For that reason, perhaps the biggest news of the year – or at least one of the most surprising developments – was that I was let go in early February.

After a brief job hunt, I landed at Midwestern State University (MSU) in Texas. It was an interesting new challenge from my perspective. I joined a program in the early stages of a rebuild, with a coach just off her first season with the team. MSU is a Division II program, which is a level I had not coached before. It was also not only a new locale in terms of places I’ve lived, but also in terms of being in a place where volleyball is a big sport.

Travel

In 2016 volleyball once more took me to a bunch of places – most of them new.

With Svedala I got to visit a very cold Upsala for Gran Prix in early January. I then got to see some of Stockholm while there for a league match about a week later.

When I was hanging out in Long Beach between jobs, I attended a men’s NCAA match for the first time ever. Not that I really had to go far. The Pyramid was just across town from where I was staying.

Of course with MSU I toured all over Texas, as well as to places in Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico for matches during the season. I made a couple of trips to Dallas for recruiting in Spring. I worked a couple of High Performance try-outs there as well, and I spent a weekend in Forth Worth on the campus of TCU for an Art of Coaching clinic.

As you may have seen, my last volleyball trip for 2016 was to the AVCA Convention. I was there to present, but took in plenty of seminars as well. It was my first time ever visiting Columbus, OH.

Writing and publishing

I don’t think I had any volleyball articles published in magazines in 2016. At least if I did I can’t remember them as I write this post. Of course I did have a book project – the very first Volleyball Coaching Wizards book. That took up big chunks of my Summer and early Autumn time!

I also developed a volleyball try-outs course. This is something I’d had in mind to do for years. I finally sat down and got it done. The response to it was really positive, so it was definitely worth the effort.

This has nothing to do with volleyball, but I twice submitted a paper for consideration toward publication in an academic journal. This is from my PhD research. The first time we (my PhD supervisor and I) aimed quite high. We didn’t expect an acceptance, but hoped for some good feedback. As anticipated, we got a rejection. It did come with a bunch of useful comments, though. We used them to revise the paper and submit to a new, slightly lower ranked journal. At this writing we are waiting for a response.

The blog

It was another record year for the blog in 2016. For the year there were about 161,000 page views from more than 86,000 visitors. That’s about a 25% increase over 2015 figures in terms of pages, and almost a 50% bump in visitors.

As you can see from the map, once again there were visitors from just about everywhere.

No surprise that the US dominates the readership.

As has been the pattern, August was once more the largest traffic month. In 2016 it accounted for nearly 13,000 visits and almost 25,000 page views. September was also above 20k views, making it the first time with two months crossing that threshold.

Interesting, the biggest single day ever for the blog came in early May at just over 2900 views. The Teach them how to throw post went viral. For the month it garnered over 4000 page views. Honestly, that surprised me. I didn’t really think of that as more or less interesting or insight a post than many others. Just goes to show that like the Rules for coaching volleyball from John Kessel post from late 2015, sometimes you just hit it right at that particular moment.

In line with prior years, search engine traffic was by far the single largest source of readership. Facebook once more led the social media sources by a large margin.

Since its inception in June 2013, the blog has now had nearly 178k visitors and over 365k page views. The post count now exceeds 825.

Looking forward to 2017

This is probably something I can say at the start of each new year, but I go into 2017 with a mixture of uncertainty and plans. There’s something in the works in the background that would be a big development for me, though it’s a long way from being concrete. As such, I will leave it for later discussion if things move in the right direction.

One of the things I can say with high confidence is that I will once again attend the USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Clinic in February. As you may have read from when I attended in 2015, I found it to be a great experience. This time I will add the CAP III course to the mix as well.

My partner Mark and I will continue to develop the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project. We definitely want to produce more books from the content we are collecting. I think we’ve decided what the next book will be.

I also hope to produce a new edition of Inside College Volleyball. That’s the college recruiting book I developed several years ago with another (now former) coach. It’s overdue for a revision and update.

Of course things will progress at MSU. The head coach is expecting her first child in April, which could make for an interesting Spring season. We are working on plans for a team trip to Argentina in August. That’s going to mean a big fund raising effort in the months to come.

Away from volleyball, I need to produce at least one more academic paper for potential publication. I’m scheduled to teach my second semester of the volleyball class as well.

 

 

College volleyball outside the USA

In the U.S. college volleyball is a pretty big thing. As I show in this post, the number of schools with varsity teams approaches 2000. The vast majority are women’s teams. These numbers don’t include school club teams. There are hundreds of those as well.

For none American readers, a varsity team is one administered by the school. It’s budget is part of the Athletics budget. A club team, in contrast, is student run. They might get some funding support – often through something like the school’s recreational program – but otherwise they are self-funded and self-managed.

College volleyball outside the U.S.

In Europe and elsewhere there are also college (university) teams. They follow a primarily club structure, however. It’s much like the one US college club teams use.

Let me use the University of Exeter (U.K.) as an example.

When I coached at Exeter the club comprised of something like 120 members. It had a board lead by a pair of Club Captains. All board positions were elected annually, toward the end of the Spring term. Members of the club paid an annual fee, part of which went to the Athletic Union (AU) to cover administrative and facilities costs.

Think of the AU as the Recreation Department for the school. It oversees all sports clubs, manages facilities scheduling, and ensures clubs stay within their budgets. The AU also manages the clubs’ relationship with BUCS, the rough U.K. equivalent of the NCAA. Actually, it’s probably closer to the NAIA in terms of its rule set.

The Exeter volleyball club featured three levels of participation. At the top were the teams playing in BUCS competition. In my last two seasons there we had two each for the men and women. Those teams also played in regional adult club tournaments, and some individual players played on higher level National League (NVL) teams.

Below the BUCS teams were the Intermediates. They played in an Exeter city league. There was also a Beginners group run entirely in-house.

All three levels had weekly training sessions.

Very loose rules

I mentioned above that the BUCS rules are probably closer to NAIA than NCAA. The bottom line is there aren’t a lot of rules. Pretty much as long as you’re a registered full-time student at the school you’re eligible to play for the team. Doesn’t matter whether you’re brand new to the sport or have played professionally.

There also aren’t any sorts of limits on training/playing hours. Nor are there differences between what you can do in-season and out-of-season.

Really, the focus of the BUCS rule book is on scheduling and competition. Everything else is at the discretion of the universities and the clubs.

Multi-national competition

Recently, one of the top U.K. college programs – Northumbria – competed in the European University Games (EUG). There’s a short write-up about how their men and women did here. The 2016 Games took place in Croatia and featured university teams from some interesting places. I count 13 different nations on the men’s side and also 13 on the women’s side, though not all the same. Not surprisingly, the host country had more entries than most. Overall, though, Germany was tops in terms of team count.

One can’t help but wonder how a U.S. college team would do in this kind of competition. The European teams would almost certainly have more experience given the inclusion of older players. The U.S. teams, though, would very likely have more in the way of resources and support.

As and aside, I saw that the University of Split was one of the entries on the men’s side. I’ve been to Split and really liked it. Wouldn’t mind coaching there. 😉