Archive for Volleyball Coaching Q&A

Testing someone’s volleyball coaching knowledge

Here’s a question I’m pretty sure I’ve not been asked before.

What are some of the questions that a coach can ask the upcoming and beginner coaches to ascertain their understanding of the sport of volleyball?

I think this is a subject folks can have some fun with. ūüôā

There are some variables here in terms of which direction you want to go with the questions. For example, is this meant to be a job interview kind of situation? If so, then the questions should probably focus a lot on the expectations of the job. They could be along the lines of:

Broader volleyball knowledge

In terms of some broader understanding of the sport:

  • What’s the FIVB? USAV?
  • Who’s the current national team coach?
  • Name X players from the national team?
  • What are the major international competitions?
  • What are the major domestic competitions?
  • Who are the current national champions?
  • Who are some of the most influential coaches in the sport?

Those are ones that come off the top of my head. No doubt there are plenty more.

This is your chance, dear reader. Use the comment section below to offer up your own suggestions.

How do I make my team strong in defense?

The following question hit my email inbox one day:

I would like to make my team a strong defensive team. Are there any drills to help with that?

First, let me restate something I posted in the You don’t need a new drill post. It’s not really much about the drills, or games, you use. Yes, they need to include the skill or tactic or whatever you want to work on. Beyond that, though, it’s about where you focus your coaching. It’s about how you provide feedback and where you have your players concentrating their efforts.

Now to the question of developing a strong defense. I think you have to address this from multiple perspectives.

Blocking

A team’s first line of defense is at the net. It’s blocking ability, or lack thereof, goes a long way in determining how effective the players in the back court can be in digging opposing attacks. Obviously, at the lower levels this isn’t a major factor because of player heights and/or weak hitting. Once you advance beyond that, though, blocking is important (see How important is blocking?). There are technical elements to blocking (footwork, swing vs. non-swing, hand penetration) which need to be developed. This is about teaching the techniques and focusing on them in your feedback while having the blockers working against hitters. There are also blocking strategies that need to be determined, which ties in with the next section.

Defensive System

Integrated with the blocking issue is the overall defensive system we’re employing.¬†This is how we position our players to cover the court when the other team is attacking. The idea is to have players in position to defend the areas of the court most likely to be hit. A good resource for learning about different types of defensive systems and strategies is the book Volleyball Systems & Strategies. Once you decide on a system, you then put the team in situations where they face an attack and you focus your feedback on their positioning.

Digging

On the technical side of things, good defense requires players who can control balls hit at them.¬†Having the perfect defensive system or strategy in place doesn’t mean anything if the defenders are shanking the ball all over the place. Training this often comes in the form of a coach banging balls at players, but there is a read element to good digging.¬† We can only develop that by defenders facing live hitters. Either way, it’s a matter of focusing your feedback on what you specifically want the players working on at the moment.

Attitude, intensity, etc.

The last element of defense is the mental part. That is readiness, a relentless approach, and full commitment.¬†These are things which you don’t necessarily have to work on in a game-like fashion – or in some cases even in a volleyball context. That said, it makes sense to have things be as close to realistic as you can make them for optimal transfer to match performance. Again, it all comes down to the focal point of your feedback.

So the first question you have to answer when looking to making your team better on defense is which of the above areas you need to most work on. Establish your priorities, pick drills or games which include that facet of the game, and focus both your and your player’s attentions there.

Advice to foreign coaches on getting a job in the US

I received an email from a coach in England. This person asked how someone like him can coach in the States. It’s something I wrote about a while back. Here’s his query, though:

I am just wondering how I go about getting into coach in a programme in America. It is my dream one day to coach out there and I am only 28 so I have a lot of time however I would like guidance on how to get there. Any thing you could help me with that would be great

I will be honest. It’s hard for foreign coaches to get jobs in the US. There are three main reasons.

  1. Visa sponsorship – Many schools simply won’t sponsor and pay the cost of a foreign coach’s visa to work in the US. Frankly, there are usually more than enough domestic applicants.¬†They need not bother look abroad. And even if they are willing, it may not last. One of my U.K. coaching contacts ran into this issue. He got a job coaching at a college in the States. During the year the school said it would not renew his visa for a second year, though.
  2. Recruiting experience –¬†Recruiting is a HUGE part of college volleyball coaching in the US. Foreign coaches simply don’t have any experience with this. That’s both in terms of the American youth volleyball system and the rules which govern recruitment.
  3. Cultural differences – There are some meaningful differences between how things operate in US volleyball and how they work elsewhere in the world. The social interaction between coaches and players – or lack thereof – is top of that list.

Now, experience overcomes some if this stuff. One can learn about recruiting and the cultural of college athletics (not just volleyball) by getting an opportunity to actually be part of a program in the US. There are two ways a foreigner can get their foot in the door that potentially get around the visa problem.

  • Graduate Assistant (GA) – I’ll admit I don’t know a ton about the grad assistant hiring process. Most colleges and universities, though, deal with international students all the time. They have established policies and procedures to sort them out with visas and the like. It is much easier to get a student visa than a standard working one in most cases. That makes this a potential route into US college coaching.
  • Volunteer Assistant – If you’re not an actual employee you don’t need to have a work visa. That makes a volunteer coaching position a viable option for non-citizen. You need to investigate how long you can stay in the States as a tourist, though. I think it’s 90 days, but I haven’t looked it up. It may depend on your nationality.

Obviously, the advantage to the GA position is it’s paid. Plus, you earn a degree that is often sought after for head coach hirings in the US. If you volunteer you have to pay your own way, though there may be some opportunities to earn a bit of money.

The NCAA website is one place to look for postings. There is also an annual job posting thread on the Volley Talk forum (Men/Women) where you can find postings for GA and volunteer positions. For those who don’t know, there are WAY more jobs in women’s volleyball than in the men’s game in the US.

Of course it’s always a good idea to network as much as possible.

The tricky bit in all this is that if you do actually land a GA or volunteer position you have the issue of still needing a work visa to stay on once your time there is done. You will probably need to find a pretty well-funded program to get sustained visa support to the point where you can get your green card.

All that said, for someone from an EU country it is probably far easier to look for coaching work in one of the professional leagues in Europe. Admittedly, though, there probably aren’t as many full-time positions as in the US. Then again, there also aren’t as many folks not needing visa support competing for those jobs either.

Why no high level teams playing a 4-2 system?

It’s another trip to the (e)mail bag for this post. The coach of a boys’ junior varsity team has a question about running an international 4-2.

As a JV coach … I’ve found that the learning curve (especially for the boys) is so steep, that simplicity is often the best strategy. This is why I’ve moved to an international 4-2 system (with no back row switches). After 2 seasons of experimentation (with both the girls and the boys JV teams), I think I’ve stumbled onto something that really works.

Several refs and coaches have asked me about it. Most raise a scoffing eyebrow as if it were too simple. But the scoreboard doesn’t lie. Simple works. Defense (with no penetrating setter) works. And since JVs so often overpass, the front row setter jump-and-dump turns that negative into a positive almost every time.

I know we’re not supposed to make the players fit the system, but rather the other way around. However, there is virtually no combination of players that does not fit into my 4-2. Plus, my kids can run slides in six rotations, which is about the only jumping technique (i.e., the lay-up) that they come in knowing already, and which virtually no other JV team in our area ever sees coming at them.

Because we had so much success with it at the JV level, our girls varsity is probably going to run it next season.

Is there a question in all of this? Yes. Why don’t we see the 4-2 more often at higher levels? Is it really too simple? Has anyone ever won championships using the international 4-2? I mean, sure, there are only 2 hitters. But a 5-1 is a 4-2 half of the time. And in high school, unless you have a lefty who can hit, how many points does your opposite really account for? (Not much, in my experience). And at the higher levels, it isn’t difficult to find a reliable back row attack. Plus, the gains you get in having 3 solid defenders the entire time, without the setter having to worry about vacating right back too early is, well, hard to quantify. But I think they’re real. I think that’s why we usually win, even with kids who don’t come in with club experience and only so-so athleticism.

First of all, sometimes winding back the clock and making use of old systems and strategies is exactly what’s called for in a given situation.

Second, the 4-2 system (usually the international version) is very frequently employed in developmental situations. For example, I know from seminars that Volleyball England uses it at the national level. I think it is employed up to U15s (4-2 first, then moved to 6-2). They don’t go to a single setter system until U17s. I’ve heard of others who follow a similar pattern. The V.E. idea is to use the 2-setter system to develop a greater number of setters in the pipeline. That is definitely worth thinking about in a high school JV situation.

Why not at higher levels?

Now, the question is why you don’t see the 4-2 in use at higher levels of play.

As you move up the levels of play, you quickly reach the point where transitions from the back row are not a major issue. This is especially true in the men’s game where they can so easily cover the ground. Yes, you’d probably get better defense in Zone 1 if you always had a dedicated defender there. Certainly, that’s better than someone who tends to cheat and bail out regularly. It’s a trade-off, though.

I’d venture to say that most coaches would favor a single setter system if asked the question. The consistency of set location and tempo, of play-calling and decision-making, and of leadership on the court having just one setter are generally seen as superior to a 2-setter system. In the US women’s collegiate game you do see some teams using a substitution-based 6-2 (setters only play back row). They want to always have three hitters at the net and/or to have a bigger block. I think if you look at the numbers, though, most teams are 5-1.

And of course in both the men’s college game and in all international play (FIVB rules) you don’t have the subs to use that kind of approach. You’d have to have both setters also be hitters to be able to run a 6-2. And there just aren’t all that many players who are both good setters and good hitters.

Further, since good setters tend not to be as big as the hitters, having them in the front row all the time in a 4-2 system means always having a somewhat smaller block. It also means they probably aren’t as effective as hitters out of the back row as a more traditional Opposite. Of course there are always exceptions.

The right focus?

I think the bigger question in all this for me is why the focus on winning for a JV team?

Simple can be very good. It can also be detrimental. You put a bunch of 12s players on the court in a game and they quickly realize that the best way to win is to put the first ball over the net every time. That gives the other team the opportunity to make the mistakes. Very simple, but not really what we want them doing, right?

To my mind, the purpose of a JV squad is to prepare players to play in the varsity team. If we win, but do not serve the greater purpose, what’s the point? With that in mind, I would want to know how well an international 4-2 with no back row switching does that.

I’m not saying it doesn’t. Far from it!

I can see a number of developmental advantages to the system. That’s why the likes of Volleyball England and others use it at the national level. But by the time players are high school aged they run a 6-2 with setter/hitters. The 4-2 up through U14s prepares players to play a 6-2, which then prepares them to play 5-1 at what is effectively high school varsity age.

So, bottom line in all this is how well the 4-2 approach prepares players for whatever system or style of play is used at the varsity level. If it does the job well, great! If not, then a rethink is in order.

How do I get a college assistant coach position?

A reader emailed me the following:

I have been applying for assistant coaching positions for college volleyball but haven’t had any luck. What step will you advise so I can get my feet wet. I was considering on becoming an volunteer coach for a local college.How would you suggest asking for a position as a volunteer coach?

In response to a follow-up email, she told me her background is as follows:

  • Played first at a Junior College, then at an NCAA Division I program.
  • Was a student assistant at her Division I school
  • Assisted at a junior college for a season
  • Coaches juniors volleyball

In terms of cracking into Division I or II coaching, which is where more full-time positions are available, one of the first things to consider is trying to find a Graduate Assistant position. That offers the advantage of earning a Masters degree. This is very desirable when it comes to getting a head coach job down the line. Obviously, you also gain coaching experience.

An alternative path into coaching is to become a Director of Volleyball Operations (DOVO). This is technically a non-coaching role. It is, however, an opportunity to learn a lot about running a volleyball program that could be handy later. It also lets you learn by observing and having regular interaction with the coaching staff. Such positions can be direct stepping stones into a coaching job with that program.

Volunteer coaching is certainly an option. I would suggest if someone were to go this route, though, that you have a very specific focus in mind. Volunteer coaching can be a path into a full-time coaching position, but only if you put yourself in a good position. That’s probably something worth it’s own article. The main idea is that if you’re going to provide your coaching services for no pay, you should have a pretty good idea of the path forward from there – either with that team or elsewhere (note that I talked about volunteer and grad assistant options as ways in for foreign coaches into the US as well).

It’s worth having a look at the annual jobs thread which runs at Volley Talk.

Regardless of which way you look to go, one thing worth doing is getting out and working a bunch of college camps. That will get your exposure to potential employers and help you develop your network, which is a very good thing.

How do you motivate players to win?

A reader sent me the following question. It’s about keeping a team focused and having the killer instinct when they have the opportunity to win.

As a club volleyball coach for several years, one of the challenges I face mostly is motivating my players to maintain their winner’s mentality… if anything their killer instinct. My current age group are 13s and 14s and they have the talent and skills but mentally, it’s a rollercoaster — they can’t seem to maintain the aggressiveness and fail to beat the teams they can and should beat…. just too many mental mistakes. I’ve collected many sports motivational quotes and use them during our timeouts and team meetings but can’t seem to absorb. I’ve used some of your drills as well.

I had two initial thoughts on reading this question.

Understand gender differences

The first was to wonder if the coach in question is talking about a girls’ team. I got confirmation that this is indeed the case. It’s been my experience that female players tend to be less naturally competitive than their male counterparts, and instead more cooperative. I think this is probably even more true for younger players. I’ve had conversations with other coaches on this subject – male and female – and they generally agree.

This is something Kathy DeBoer wrote in her book Gender and Competition. She made the observation men battle to bond and women bond to battle. In my experience, it’s very true.

A lack of competitiveness definitely doesn’t apply to all female athletes, of course. The setter I had at Svedala is a perfect example. She is one of the most competitive people you’ll ever meet. That means you need to consider the individual aspect of things along the way. You could have a mixture of competitiveness levels, which impacts how you try to address things.

I think the broader point here is that for certain types of players or teams it’s best not to address competitiveness just from the perspective of winning for winning’s sake. You need to think about looking at things in other ways. Winning could be an indication of excellence in performance or teamwork, reaching a joint objective, or something else which is important.

An example of that would be my Exeter women’s team from 2013-14. They had the collective goal of reaching Final 8s in Edinburgh. To get there, they had to win matches, so they were very motivated to do so. Without that strong group objective, they probably wouldn’t have been so focused on winning.

Focus on non-win related objectives

The second thing that came immediately to mind when reading the email above is that the coach needed to shift the focus away from winning and on to something else. This can be especially helpful when playing weaker competition – or alternatively, when playing a better team from a different perspective.

When I was coaching at Exeter we often faced teams that could have been considered inferior. In those situations I went in with specific areas of focus for the team for that match. An example was serving. I’d tell the team I wanted them to focus on their more aggressive serves or their serving accuracy. Against another team the focus might have been on our offense or some other facet of the game. In every case the idea was to work on things I wanted to develop or improve upon for the more important matches down the road.

In all these cases, while I certainly wanted and expected the team to win, I put the focus on process rather than outcome. Obviously, what I had them concentrating on was things that I felt would contribute to winning.

Breaking things down into chunks

Another thing which might help in situations like those described in the email is breaking each match down into smaller “games. This is something which got discussed in a recent episode of the Volleyball Coaching Wizards Podcast. I encourage you to give that a listen as Wizard Mike Lingenfelter shares his own method for doing this, and my podcast partner Mark and I offer our own thoughts on the subject.

Thoughts from readers?

There are other things I know coaches do to try to encourage competitiveness. I’d love to hear what readers use to this end – what they’ve found useful and what hasn’t worked. Use the comment section below to share your experience or ideas – or questions if you have them.

 

Can you use the same drills across levels?

The following question was once posted in a volleyball coaching group.

I have a question about how you guys coach your teams differently based on the level. As in if the team you have in any particular year is younger, less experienced, less motivated ect. Do you use the same drills but let them out of the drill early if they dont get it or do you explain the importance and stick with a drill even if it takes all practice?

Let’s first address the question of whether you use the same drills and/or games across different skill and age levels. The answer to that is in some cases you can, and in some cases you can’t. The easiest example of this is a drill highly reliant on ball-handling ability. If you have a team which has not yet reached the point where they can pass or set well enough to make the drill work, then you have to go with something a bit less complex.

By that I mean this. There are games and drills which are simple in that they involve only one or two skills. A target serving drill, for example, only requires the players to perform one skill – serving. If you do serve reception, then the players perform two skills – serving and passing. As you add additional skills, you increase complexity. For example, if you add hitting to the serve reception you bring in the additional skills of setting and attacking.

Low complexity drills can be performed by just about any group. Your target level for completion may be lower, though, for the less-skilled ones (for example, a lower number of 3 passes required to finish a serve reception drill). It’s the higher complexity ones which require more skill and thus may not be suitable for lower level and/or younger groups.

As for whether you run a drill to completion, even if it takes all practice (or longer!), that depends. If you have three priority items for that training that you really want to hit, then put a time limit on any one activity. That way you are sure to have time for everything.

If that game or drill represents the single most important thing you want to focus on that session, then you may want to consider letting it run to completion. Be careful, though. You don’t want to lose the players. If they get too frustrated they might just shut down. Once that happens, nothing afterwards is worth anything in their development. If you see the focus starting to slip, I would suggest either altering the game/drill or cutting it short and going back to it later to finish.

Beyond what you do with your games and drills, I definitely think you coach teams differently. This isn’t just about their level of play, etc. Even teams of a similar level are different and require a slightly different approach.

Coaching professional volleyball – advice wanted

coaching professional volleyball

In the last few days I’ve had a pair of coaches ask me for advice on on starting a career coaching professional volleyball. One of them is an avid reader of this blog from Canada with both youth club and college level experience. The other is a current US college coach who it sounded like he came to hear about me by reading my article in the latest AVCA magazine.

First of all, seeing as I’m currently only in my first year coaching at the professional level in Europe, I’m not going to pretend to know everything there is about breaking in and making a career of it. Hopefully we can get some folks with more experience than myself to contribute to the discussion.

For now, though, I’ll share my own perspective on getting into coaching professional volleyball.

Something very important to understand about the European coaching market – and I’m guessing ones in other areas of the world as well – is that for the most part you’re not going going to see public job postings. In the US, and to a degree Canada and England, it’s pretty easy to find out about available coaching jobs through the list of volleyball job listings sites I’ve compiled. You may find narrowly defined sites – like the one that lists French and some Swiss openings – but you won’t find anything with broad coverage.

So how do you find out about openings?

Networking

Developing contacts in professional volleyball is something I strongly recommend. Networking is directly responsible for me getting my current job at Svedala. I heard about the job through one of my contacts. At the same time, the contacts I have can be useful references for positions I target. Also, they are sources of information on coaching life and careers and intelligence on the job market.

So how do you develop a professional coaching network?

The simple answer is to get out there and meet coaches. Yes, you can use LinkedIn and other online methods for finding people to connect with. Really, though, the best results in terms of creating good links and being able to learn is to get out and spend time with coaches. It’s something you might be doing in going to the AVCA Convention or the USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Clinic, or other more regional events. A similar principle applies for looking abroad. Find the coaching events that happen each year (they are often in late Spring/Summer after the season ends).

Also, go spend some time in other coaches’ gyms. Aside from being a good learning opportunity, it gives you a chance to develop a more direct relationship with others. Don’t be shy. You’d be surprised how willing people are to have you visit with them – even those who are coaching professional volleyball!

Research

The other thing you definitely need to do is research. Think of the professional volleyball landscape as being similar to the conference structure in US collegiate volleyball. Some conferences have a very high competitive standard with lots of funding. Some conferences are at the other end of the spectrum entirely. The rest are at different points in the middle. In my post Professional volleyball country league rankings I talk about how they compare from at least the level of play perspective.

Use your coaching network to help in this research. One of my contacts in Germany was very helpful in giving me an idea of what coaching in Sweden would be like. He’d coached in Finland for several years, so knew the way of things in the Scandinavian countries.

Your research should help you narrow your target coaching market down based on your coaching credentials, where you might want to live, and the like. That then would allow you to concentrate on learning all you can about those leagues and teams – including potentially finding out when coaching jobs open up. It also gives you some specific targets for your networking efforts. After all, who’s better to tell you about your target league(s) than those who actually coach there?

And like researching potential employers anywhere, going through the process will help you figure out where and how your particular experience and talents match with what a team is looking for in a new coach.

Required Credentials

Let me start by talking certifications, licenses, and the like. In some countries they are required. Germany is an example of this. That isn’t to say a foreign coach must go through the full German licensing program in order to be hired, as there are accommodations, but you do have to jump through some hoops to be granted a German license. In Sweden there is no such requirement. Having coaching credentials from your home country (e.g. USA Volleyball CAP) definitely helps. In some cases they can be used to gain quick certification in the new country – as was my case in England.

The other thing I would bring up is that going the assistant coach route as a first step is likely to be very challenging. In the less well-funded leagues having an assistant coach at all is a luxury in some places. Even in the better funded leagues, finding assistant coaches earning reasonable money can be challenging. Many of them are required to also coach in the club’s youth teams, which may mean having to know the local language reasonably well.

As a result, you’re probably going to need to be thinking of going after a head coach job. That likely means you want to have some solid head coaching experience on your resume before trying to break into coaching professional volleyball.

Other considerations

When I got hired at Svedala I posted the basic terms of my contract here. That should give you an idea of the things to expect in that regard. Obviously, the specific terms and compensation will vary.

Note that I haven’t said anything about citizenship here. Generally speaking, professional clubs are able to arrange for working permits for foreign coaches. There’s an expense, though, so in some cases your status might factor in. This was something I ran up against exploring a Swiss job. If I’d been an EU citizen I may be coaching in Switzerland now rather than Sweden.

The other thing I would say is you need to realize that coaching professional volleyball has some considerable differences with coaching collegiate volleyball. I did a 3-part series on some of my observations which starts here. The most obvious one is the length of the season. In Europe you start play in October (with preseason starting as early as August) and you probably go until April, or even May in some cases. There is a brief holiday break (mine is about 10 days this year). That requires a different kind of thought and planning process.

Final thoughts

I think coaching professional volleyball is definitely something worth exploring if you’re in the right situation for it, though breaking in will require a lot of work. Obviously, it means uprooting your life and moving abroad – probably to a place where you don’t speak the language – and adapting to a whole new set of circumstances. You probably won’t make all that much money, but you’ll gain a lot of useful experience and education.

 

 

How do I help players play abroad?

I once had an email from an avid reader of the blog on the subject of professional volleyball. It was basically a 2-part question and I want to tackle part of it here. Basically, this person is coaching in Canada and is curious how Canadian players can take their game overseas. Specifically:

“… what can you tell me about possibility of Canadian players playing in Sweden or Europe. What should they expect ? Any details?”

First of all, let me say that when I coached for Svedala I looked at number of Canadian players while we were in the process of trying to secure our three foreigners for the current season. I remember there was at least one who I thought would be a good addition to the squad. She committed somewhere else, though. I believe at least one Canadian female player was in Sweden that year (2015-16). There could have been more on the men’s side.

The professional volleyball player hiring process struck me as being something quite similar in a lot of ways to the college recruiting process.¬†At least from my end it was, anyway. By that I mean I spent a lot of time looking at video and researching players. I tried to assess each one who came to my attention, and to rate them against others in their position. Obviously, there isn’t the academic consideration, but you’re still trying to find a good ability, potential, and personality fit for the squad.

Get an agent

In the professional case, though, the vast majority of the players we hear about come to us via player agents. As much as I’ve heard my fair share of stories about a “get them signed and forget about them” approach which seems to often be the case among agencies, the reality of the situation is that they are probably a requirement.

Think about it from this perspective. There are dozens of countries where someone could potentially go to play volleyball professionally. Unlike the case of college volleyball, they don’t all speak the same language and getting contact information for the coach or manager isn’t always easy. On top of that, clubs have a wide variety of resources and ever changing player needs. These sorts of things are really hard for anyone just coming out of college volleyball to know.

The fact of the matter is that agents and agencies have the knowledge and experience to direct players toward countries and clubs where they are reasonable prospects. That’s how they get paid, so behooves them to stay up on the “market” from that perspective. They are constantly asking the clubs “What do you need?” and “What can you pay?”. Of course that doesn’t prevent them from trying to push a player for a higher salary, but that’s a whole other subject.

This isn’t to say a player couldn’t represent themselves. To do so, though, they would probably have to be very targeted and do a lot of research. One of my players said she’s been told by others she’s spoken with on the subject that many (most) players drop their agent after a couple of years because either they’re happy where they are or feel like they’ve developed the knowledge and contacts they need to do things themselves.

Expectations

In terms of what to expect, that’s a tricky thing to answer – in part because I’m still relatively new to it myself. Also, though, from what I’ve heard conditions and player treatment can vary considerably.

Generally speaking, a player contract will have their accommodation provided by the club, along with at least one set of flights to/from there. Beyond that, it becomes situational. There could be a vehicle provided. Some meals may be part of the deal. A ticket home for the holidays could be on offer, and other things as well.

Then there’s the question of player treatment. In some places players will be sent home for one of any number of reasons (performance, club finances, etc.) while in other places that sort of thing doesn’t really happen except in the case of major injury. Some places players get paid on time with no issues, while in other places that can be a dicey thing. Quality of living arrangements can be varied as well.

From what I’ve been told, the Scandinavian countries are generally seen as a good stepping-stone for those thinking of a professional volleyball career. The clubs are stable and the cultural transition for players from the US and Canada is fairly easy. Of course the trade-off is that the pay scales are lower. For those looking to get a feel for what life as a pro would be like, though, it seems like a reasonable first step.

Recommendations

What I would recommend to coaches who have players with overseas aspirations is that they do a few things:

  • Research the player agents and agencies so you can point players in the right direction.
  • Put players in touch with others with experience playing abroad (and talk with them yourself)
  • Develop overseas coaching contacts so you can at least gain your own understanding of the landscape and maybe feed players through directly in some cases.

Hope that helps. I would love to get some comments and insights from others with experience in professional volleyball and the process.