Coaches coach

During my second year in England I was watching some NCAA women’s volleyball on ESPN Player with two of my Exeter university players. At one point during the match, the male player of the pair turned turned and asked how I could handle dealing with coaching them – meaning the university men and women – after having coached Division I volleyball in the States. I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Firstly, I should note that I think we were watching Kansas vs. Georgia. This is meaningful because while I did indeed coach DI collegiate volleyball, I was at a significantly lower level. Not that these two teams in particular are known for being national championship contenders in volleyball. They do both play in good conferences, though. While I did coach against the likes of Wisconsin, U. San Diego, USC, and Penn State, it’s not the same as coaching in programs of that caliber. We can certainly have a discussion about the meaning of coaching at those different levels, but I’ll leave that for another day. The point here is that I couldn’t claim to have coached elite level athletes. Later, of course, I coached some former PAC-12 and ACC players at Svedala. But I digress.

Secondly, I’d coached at all sorts of different levels of volleyball over the years up to that point. It started with high school volleyball many, many years ago. From then up to the time of this conversation my experience included club volleyball from 12-and-unders right up to 18-and-unders, different calibers of collegiate teams, a boys scholastic team, and the various things I did in England. In other words, it’s not like all I’d ever done was coach at a higher level than what I was coaching those days.

More than all that, though, I felt like I fall under the “coaches coach” classification. Some might argue I have a coaching addiction. Might be hard to refute that given how many teams I was involved in coaching those days. 🙂

I will admit to having preferences in my coaching. Working with young kids doesn’t tend to be my thing, and I generally favor coaching female players rather than male ones. That said, I helped a 12-and-under team win in regional championship once upon a time and lead a boys scholastic team to a gold medal in my first head coaching experience, so I’ve certainly had success outside my main comfort zones.

The bottom line, though, is that I really get a lot out of coaching. It’s about teaching and developing these players. It’s about maximizing a given team’s potential. I think those who are really passionate about coaching probably think the same way.

Agree? Disagree?

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women's team. This follows 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.

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