Sometimes volleyball coaches have to ignore what they see

A while back I retweeted the following quote I came across:

Coaches have to watch for what they don’t want to see and listen to what they don’t want to hear. – John Madden

You won’t come across a more true statement about coaching – in volleyball or any other sport. Sometimes, though, you just have to turn off that coach vision and let things go.

One night when I coached at Exeter was a perfect example for me. It was the last training session for the term for the university volleyball teams. It was traditional that we had a joint male/female session. These were meant to be a time for the players to have fun in a relaxed environment. Inevitably, that also means the general quality of play tends to take a dip. Balls drop. Players do silly things. I’m sure you know how it goes.

Did I see all that stuff last night? Yup. Did I let it bother me? Nope.

Yes, I could have gotten frustrated, but what would be the point? I’ve spoken before about identifying coaching priorities. The priority for that night was for the players to have fun and send off the exchange students in the group. All I had to do was keep that in mind and I was able to stay calm and have some fun of my own as I watched the players enjoy themselves quite a bit.

This may be a bit of an extreme case, in that it’s pretty easy to turn off the teaching instinct for a couple hours. The broader point, though, is that sometimes you have to ignore certain things because the priority of the session is something else.

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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