Leaving room to increase training intensity

Once upon a time I worked with a young fellow assistant coach. He had a good volleyball head. As is to be typical of new, youthful coaches, however, there were times where he needed to be reined in.

One of those situations occurred during a digging drill where we coaches were hitting balls from on boxes*. Our young friend was hammering balls at the players with near maximum swing velocity. He wasn’t the biggest guy in the world, so we’re not talking about ridiculously hard hits. They were still quite aggressive, though. As this was still early in the season (perhaps even preseason), I had to slow him down.

You see, a coach must be able to ratchet things up to the next level as a team progresses. He would limit in his ability to do that if he was already hitting balls near the maximum of his power before we’d even played our first competitive match.

By backing down from his hard swings a bit this young coach could do a couple of things. First, he could save those hits for latter when we really wanted to give the players a big challenge. Second, we could avoid creating confidence issues within the team as they struggled to dig the balls he was hitting. Thirdly, and perhaps even more importantly, he could keep the players from losing respect for him as may have been the case if they thought he was just out to abuse them or make them look bad.

Just another one of those nuance things which makes for good coaching.

* I don’t recall what kind of drill it was. In those days I worked for a head coach who was very block training oriented. Not that I myself knew much differently at the time.

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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