Tag Archive for university volleyball

BUCS Volleyball Structure for 2014-15

BUCS has published the provisional leagues for the 2014-15 season. It’s always interesting to see which schools are added or dropped and which expand the number of teams competing (as I observed last year). For the upcoming season, though, we have the addition of northern and southern premier leagues sitting above Division 1.

The advancement of teams up from Division 1 and into the Premier Leagues meant there would have to be additional teams promoted up from Division 2 beyond the league winners already designated to do so in place of the bottom Division 1 finishers who would be relegated.

The Men’s Premier Leagues are as follows:

Northern Southern
Northumbria East London
Strathclyde Bournemouth
Durham Exeter
Sheffield Hallam UCL
Edinburgh Cambridge

The Women’s Premier Leagues are as follows:

Northern Southern
Northumbria Oxford
Durham Kings
Glasgow Exeter
St. Andrews Bournemouth
Edinburgh Cambridge

Both leagues were meant to have six teams (as I noted previously). Not sure why the North only includes five in both cases. The documentation says they will expand that to the full allotment for 2015-16.

In terms of my own coaching, as you can see, both the Exeter women’s and men’s first teams earned a spot in the Southern Premier League for the new season. They move up from Division 1 on the basis of making Final 8s this past season.

At the lower levels, the women’s 2nd team has gained promotion to Division 1 from Division 2 thanks to a second place league finish last year. This would not normally be enough to gain promotion as only the first place team advances. The way it fell out, though, was that the two bottom teams from Division 1 were relegated (Bristol and Cardiff), so with Exeter and Bournemouth promoted you get 4 spots to fill. As a result, the top two teams from Divisions 2A and 2B (A/B being a geographic split) were promoted.

On the men’s side it was a similar situation. Two teams were relegated from Division 1 (Southampton, plus Gloucestershire by dint of withdrawing) while Bournemouth and Exeter were promoted up. The four slots were filled by the top two finishers in Divisions 2A and 2B. Unfortunately, the Exeter 2 guys finished 3rd last season, so they remain in Division 2.

One could certainly question relegating two teams from Division 1 and bringing up four from Division 2. The formula isn’t quite made for these sorts of situations. There doesn’t look to have been anything said yet about promotion/relegation to/from the Premier Leagues after next season. We are all quite curious to find out what BUCS is planning on doing for scheduling.

A number of new schools/teams are shown in the chart of the provisional league assignments, but we need to wait and see how that all falls out. Some of the names I see were listed as being in the mix last year, but didn’t end up taking part in play for whatever reason. We’ll see what ends up happening there.

Volleyball Academy: Indoor or Beach?

I once had an exchange with a volleyball dad. He was looking for some advice on his daughter. At 16 she was an England international at the U19 level and had aspirations to play in college in the States. One of the academies accepted her for the next school year. Shortly after, the England sand volleyball training program invited her to join them in a similar academy type of situation. A former beach pro ran the program. The father sought my advice on the decision with regards to the impact on recruitment prospects. Below are the thoughts I shared with this father, but I’d be interested to hear other views.

So the question is to attend the indoor academy and train with other members of the England youth national team mix or go the beach route to train under a former professional and with other England beach internationals. The player in question was an outside hitter, though capable of hitting anywhere on the net. She was about 5’10”, with a good jump and long reach (slender build). She both hit and blocked well and generally had good ball skills. In the most recent season she had some back issues, but otherwise I was not aware of any injuries. If she went the beach academy route, part of the deal would be that she’d continue playing indoor ball in the National Volleyball League.

Now generally speaking I almost always encourage my indoor players to get out and play beach or grass doubles. It’s a great way for them to improve their abilities and have a different kind of volleyball experience. That’s not the same as choosing between training full-time as a beach player vs. as an indoor player, though.

If this girl played another position, like middle blocker or perhaps setter, I may feel differently. In this case, though, I thought going the beach academy route made a lot of sense. As an OH prospective college coaches would expect her to have solid skills all around – not highly specialized ones as would be the case in other positions. Beach volleyball would help her continue developing those skills. I also thought sand training would reduce the pounding her body would take as a full-time indoor player. That could have long-term benefits.

From the recruiting perspective, the math was fairly simple. There are WAY more indoor programs and scholarship opportunities, and that wouldn’t change any time soon (if ever). As such, focusing on the indoor side in the recruitment process offers more opportunities, especially given the way the NCAA counts volleyball scholarships (an indoor scholarship athlete can play sand without issue, but a sand scholarship athlete cannot play indoors unless being counted toward the indoor scholarship limits). That said, being a dual-surface player would make one quite attractive to schools where players are part of both the indoor and sand teams (rather than the teams being run separately).

All things taken together – working on her all-around game, the opportunity to train under a former beach pro, still getting to play indoor competitively – I thought going the beach academy route in this case mades a lot of sense. That’s what I told the father.

Agree? Disagree?

Dealing with cases of (apparent) cheating

There’s a bit of a dark cloud hanging over BUCS volleyball at the moment.

Yesterday the 2013-14 championship finals were contested, with both being hotly contested. It was Durham downing Northumbria on the women’s side and Sheffield Hallam beating Northumbria on the men’s. Both were upsets as neither Northumbria team had lost this year, nor did either lose last year. Moreover, both Durham and Sheffield had lost to their Northumbria counterparts three times already this season before yesterday. Both were worthy championship matches.

The problem that’s come up is lower down in the ranks, specifically in Division 2. At that level there is no overall championship as there is in Division 1. Instead there are conference cup knock-out competitions, which also saw their finals played on Wednesday. There has been controversy over at least two of them. It comes from questions of eligibility.

The BUCS rules on players playing for different teams in the same sport are as follows (from the Individual Eligibility section):

REG 7.5    Team Selection

REG 7.5    In team sports which incorporate competition below First Team level, each team should be selected as though the other teams would be playing in a match of equal importance at the same time.

REG 7.5.1 It would be expected that the first team would always be the strongest team available to represent that institution.

REG 7.5.2 Teams must be selected as if all teams are playing on a given day, for example, if the first team does not have a match but the second team do, no players who would normally represent the first team are eligible to play for the second team.

REG 7.5.3  Individuals may not play or be a substitute (playing or non-playing) for different teams on the same date, but may play for a different team in a different sport on the same day.

REG 7.5.4  Knock Out: Individuals may not play for different teams in the same round of cup competitions in the same sport even if those rounds take place on different dates i.e. may not play for the firsts in a semi-final and seconds in semi-final; but may play for a different team in a different sport on the same day. Selections for knock-out competitions must adhere to REG 7.5-7.5.3 Team Selection, any dubious selections will need to be justified and substantiated if appealed.

REG 7.5.5   Appeals regarding contravention of Reg 7.5-7.5.4 must be accompanied by substantiating evidence including the name(s) of any player(s) in question and photographic/video evidence as a minimum.

At Exeter we apparently have competed against at least two teams which failed to abide by these rules. In one case we were told about it by another university who observed someone playing against us at Final 8s who had played in a conference cup competition, meaning a player selected to their Division 1 team (firsts) had played on their Division 2 team (seconds) at the same level in the competition. In another case it was a team from our own conference we witnessed doing the same thing.

Our club leadership has been pondering how to handle this situation. On the one hand we don’t want to see our peers at other clubs face major sanctions which negatively influence our sport. Also, we don’t want to elevate ourselves – or be seen to be trying to do so – at someone else’s expense by tattling on them. On the other hand, though, we jumped through major hurdles in pulling together teams to play in the cup competitions specifically to avoid eligibility issues. We literally had to bring up players from our intermediates group (non-BUCS) to play and obviously that meant we didn’t do as well as we could have done. As a result, we haven’t accumulated as many BUCS points as we could have done, and other teams have collected more than they might have if they’d abided by the rules..

I’ve heard it suggested that in some cases players from the 1st team were used in alternate positions in the 2nd team cup matches. For example, an opposite played setter or a libero played outside hitter. Conceptually, I get the argument being made there, but I don’t see anything in the rules which provides an exception based on playing a different position.

It’s my understanding that one of the club captains is drafting a letter to BUCS expressing our concerns. Hopefully, something is done to address this issue, at least on a moving forward basis. If I’m honest, though, I don’t have particularly high hopes in that regard. BUCS doesn’t seem to give volleyball a particularly large amount of attention.

Shifting into off-season mode

Last Friday was the end-of-year dinner for the Exeter University Volleyball Club, effectively marking the end of the 2013-14 season. The men’s team had a pair of South West league matches on Sunday and there are still training sessions scheduled for tonight and Wednesday, but from my perspective the job is done. The academic term ends this week and I have no further coaching duties, so I’m shifting into off-season mode.

What exactly does that mean?

Well, for starters it means quite a bit more focus on my PhD work. That is, after all, my reason for being in Exeter in the first place! I have a major deadline in mid-May in terms of work submission, then also have to do a presentation about my work to-date the last week of May. The next few weeks, therefore will be about running statistical analysis, reviewing the literature, and turning it all into something which at least marginally contributes to our understanding of things.

Of course the end of the season doesn’t mean the end of thinking about volleyball. I’m not in the situation like I was in coaching back in the States where the off-season involved loads of recruiting, plus various types of training sessions for the players who would be returning for the next season. Still, there is the need to think about what’s going to happen with Exeter in the 2014-15 season. Even as we all basked in the glow of the club’s Final 8s success, the leaders and myself and my fellow coaches have been thinking and talking about the implications of what happened this season. There are a lot of questions yet to be answered and decisions to be made.

As for myself, I don’t plan on making any major decisions regarding my coaching or anything else until after I get through May. I need to see how some things develop before I commit myself to anything meaningful one way or the other.

That said, if I do coach next year I have a hard time seeing how it could be at the same level of commitment as it was this year. All together I was on the bench for 54 matches. I will be in the last year of my PhD funding next season (though will have another year of acceptance/student visa), so will need to make sure I make the most of it by either finishing my degree or at least getting very close to having done so. I may also have teaching duties, which I haven’t had in any meaningful way this year.

I’ve talked about this issue with folks. It may be that I could only coach one teams, not both men and women. In fact, it seems likely with Exeter being in the new premier league next year that it would be impossible to coach both teams on match day as I have been able to do with very few conflicts the last two seasons, though I could still run both trainings. The funny thing is the other night at dinner one of the departing men’s players told me he’d heard that I was going to resign from coaching the guys. I haven’t said anything so definitive, but you know how it goes with the rumor mill.

In any case, I will spend some time pondering my coaching and the bigger picture of my life in general. Eventually I’ll get around to making some decisions, but not today. 🙂

On beating expectations and wearing a kilt

It was a whirlwind week for me after returning from Edinburgh and Final 8s in 2014.The Exeter University Volleyball Club did better than anyone expected (see my recap), leaving its mark on the competition in multiple ways. I long had a bit of a buzz going from the realization of what we accomplished.

Not that I had much time to just bask in it all. I had to fulfill requests for press and publicity pieces to help get word of the teams’ successes to the masses. Despite the club having over 100 members, volleyball was not a high profile sport at Exeter. We were always fighting for our share of attention and support. We needed to use any and all success to help boost our standing in the athletics community there.

Of course there’s also the social aspect of things. Keeping up with all the photos and updates on Facebook and Twitter in the days after our Edinburgh success was at times a job unto itself. One of the players even put together a really well-done video. Those not on the trip wanted to hear the stories. I’m sure the players rehashed things among themselves many times. There was also the inevitable talk about what that year’s success could/should mean in terms of support for the club moving forward.

Even now, I still periodically find myself shaking my head at just how well things turned out at Final 8s.

As I documented in my Coaching Log entries over the course of the season, everything I did was aimed at preparing the women for just that level of competition (well, aside from Northumbria and Durham). I wasn’t surprised that they were able to put in a respectable performance against those teams. My thought was that 5th or 6th was probably a realistic expectation. I think the whole team, myself included, would have been quite pleased with that kind of result. After all, just two years prior the they were in Division 2. Wrapping my head around the idea that we finished as the 3rd best team in the U.K. is still a challenge.

As for the men…

In the case of the men, I had low expectations. Only three players returned from the prior year. I expected them to struggle to even make it to the Round of 16. They had a lot of things go their way to get them in to Final 8s.

It was a season of struggles on many levels. That probably shouldn’t have been a surprise considering the relative youth and inexperience of the group. Going into Final 8’s, we expected to be outmatched physically in all our matches. Further, we hadn’t really come together as a unit for any sustained period of time. I was, in all honestly, worried the guys were going to get pounded in four straight matches. I’d have been satisfied with having at least one match (probably the 7th/8th playoff) in which we were well and truly competitive. Even on the day I would not have been overly disappointed with having lost to Durham at the end as we’d have given them a good fight. In fact, I kept expecting them to beat us. They just didn’t do it!

So there I was, a coach in the rare position of having his teams both exceed expectations. So often we struggle to just meet them. It’s a strange feeling. Though it did make wearing a kilt to the club’s year-end dinner tonight a bit more fun. I said months prior if the women made it to Edinburgh that I’d wear one. Both teams succeeding as they did let me laugh all the more heartily at the absurdity of a night out in Exeter wearing a skirt. 🙂

2014 BUCS Volleyball Final 8s report

Last weekend was Final 8s, which brings together the top BUCS Division 1 teams to determine the two finalists who will battle it out for the volleyball championship on March 26th as part of Big Wednesday.This year’s event took place at the Edinburgh Centre for Sport & Exercise.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Final 8s, the format is a fairly straightforward one featuring an initial round of 4-team pool play followed by crossover matches. The top two teams in each pool play in the semifinals while the 3rd and 4th places teams respectively crossover to play in the 5th/6th and 7th/8th deciding matches. As a result, each team competes in four matches – two on Saturday and two on Sunday. It’s a 2-court operation in which rounds of men’s and women’s play are alternated throughout the day.

This year’s facility was a significant upgrade over the one in Leeds last year. There was ample space around the courts and overhead. The gym did get warm and humid at points, which is only to be expected given the number of athletes involved, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I remember from 2013. There was also good spectator areas and both the facility amenities and the surrounding area were notable improvements. All in all, I’d say it was a much better experience for the teams involved from that perspective.

I think the one grumble many of us might have was the balls. We used the Mikasa 5000 model, which is the official BUCS ball this year. There were a lot of missed serves, especially on the the first day. The ball just seemed to take off out of the server’s hand and sail long.

In terms of the play, the major structural difference was in the tournament format. Whereas in 2013 the pools had been determined based on an overall seeding, this year BUCS used a different structure which created pools based on a north/south split. As things turned out, it might not have mattered overly much in terms of where teams finished, especially those reaching the semifinals, but it could have been otherwise.

On the men’s side, defending champs Northumbria topped Group A. Sheffield Hallam came second, with Cranfield next, then Durham. Group B was won by Bournemouth, with UCL second, followed by East London and then Exeter. The only major surprise was UCL beating UEL as they had failed to do so in their two regular season league meetings. That was also the only group match to go three sets. Otherwise, the results were probably in line with expectations.

Northumbria and Sheffield Hallam won their semifinal matches over UCL and Bournemouth respectively (the latter was 2-1) and will meet in the final. UEL downed Cranfield 2-0 in the 5th/6th playoff. Exeter upset Durham 2-1 in the 7th/8th playoff.

On the women’s side it was a case of two teams being in an entirely different class from the rest. Defending champs Northumbria and 2013 finalist Durham both have squads stacked with former Team GB and American collegiate players which none of the rest could come close to matching. Watching those two play was like watching a good level US collegiate women’s match. Everyone else in the field was battling for scraps.

Northumbria and Durham were 1-2 in Group A. Oxford finished 3rd, with Lancaster bringing up the rear. Only the match between the latter two went longer than 2 sets.

Group B proved the more competitive of the two. King’s College won all three matches, but dropped sets to both Cambridge and Exeter. Bournemouth, Cambridge, and Exeter all beat each other to finish in a 3-way tie. Exeter took second on the set differential tiebreak, with Cambridge sliding in at 3rd.

Northumbria and Durham easily won their semifinals over Exeter and King’s College respectively. Oxford downed league rivals Cambridge 2-1 in the 5th/6th playoff while Bournemouth beat Lancaster 2-0 to claim 7th. While Exeter reaching the semifinals would probably have been viewed at the outset as a surprise, the fact of the matter is that they were at a very similar competitive level to Bournemouth, Cambridge, and Oxford and any one of the four would have been a reasonable semifinalist in this field.

From the perspective of the Exeter squads I coached, it was a very positive Final 8s experience. The men were underdogs throughout and had a major size disadvantage against much of the competition. Beating Durham in the 7/8 match was all about teamwork, defense, intelligent hitting, and outstanding support from the women’s team cheering them on.

The guys returned the favor for the ladies, who didn’t face the same physical mismatches (except perhaps against Northumbria). Even still, the women relied on teamwork, good serving, and strong defense to be competitive. They did not have the 1-2 hitters capable of getting consistent kills the way other teams did.

Coaching Log – Mar 16, 2014

This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.

The first order of business on the day was finding out the tiebreak procedure to be used in the case of a 3-way tie between teams in our group. As I noted in the last log entry, things were set up such that if we beat Bournemouth in our last match and King’s beat Cambridge, we would all be tied at 1-2 and level in the head-to-head comparison after having beaten each other.

Upon getting to the tournament site I asked the tiebreak question of one of the event managers. He said sets between the teams would be the next tiebreak. That meant if we won 2-0 we’d get second in the pool and a spot in the semifinals by virtue of being the only team among the three with a positive set differential.

I’d spoken with the captain about this prospect, but we both thought it was best not to say anything to the team. As I noted, there was already some signs the day before about getting a bit tense when things were on the line Saturday. The players already had enough motivation to draw on to get psyched up to want to beat Bournemouth. Adding a spot in the semis to that mix would have had nothing but downside to it.

I used the same line-up as the one which narrowly lost to Cambridge in the second match on Saturday. We got off to a good start in the first set and carried that through to a fairly comfortable win. The second set was much closer all the way through. We fell behind a bit, then dragged ourselves back level. The teams traded points for long stretches. At one point we missed 4 out of 6 serves, which irked me. In the end, though, we did managed to close it out and take the 2-0 win.

From there it was all about the King’s-Cambridge match. That one went 3, but King’s managed to win it in the end. We still hadn’t really said anything definitive to the players just in case I hadn’t understood the tiebreak procedure correctly. I was coaching the guys’ team in the 7th/8th playoff match when the team got the news they made the semis. Much celebration ensued! 🙂

Our semifinal opponent was Northumbria – defending BUCS champions. If anything, they looked a stronger team this year than the one I saw play a year ago. We didn’t stand a chance (only one other team in the competition did), so my focus was on getting playing time some way for all my bench players.

The first set had a very rough start. We gave up a string of points in a row with barely a challenge. I went with the starters to begin, and I honestly think they were a bit too keyed up for it. They knew what they were up against, but really wanted to make a few plays. Eventually, I was able to get them to settle down a bit during a timeout, but it was a rocky start and we never broke single digits. Northumbria used its bench in the second and I used all of mine as well. We managed to get I think 15 points in that one, so the team walked away happy.

We’ll have a couple of training session before the term ends, but this will be the last of log entries since the season is complete. After things have settled a bit I’ll post a season review with my thoughts on how it all went and what I thought of my coaching.

Coaching Log – Mar 15, 2014

This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.

First day of the BUCS Final 8s tournament in Edinburgh.

Our first match was against King’s College, first place team from the South Eastern conference. The team was in a pretty good mental space to start things off – maybe a bit of to-be-expected nerves at the start, but not scared at the occasion or the competition. We didn’t play poorly, but lost the first set by a reasonable margin. I made a couple of line-up shifts for the second – namely swapping our MBs in the rotation and bringing in a new OH. I think the latter was the more meaningful change as it injected some energy into things, which helped us win the second set. Unfortunately, King’s took the third. The team handled it well, but there wa a bit of tentativeness that worked its way into the team’s play in the latter stages which was a little concerning..

The second match was against Cambridge. We saw video of their first round match, so had an idea of what they were about. With Kings it was a “glad to be here” type of attitude in the team. With Cambridge, though, the focus shifted more to winning. That, I think, maybe led to a bit more mental pressure being felt by the group. They didn’t play with as much positive energy. It was a match of long rallies. We dropped the first set and struggled at the start of the second, but got in turned around and won that one. Unfortunately, we lost the 3rd.

At the end of the day we had a team meeting that focused on on-court energy. One of the players was really struggling with negative body language and poor energy. It was dragging on the team. Unfortunately, she wasn’t someone easily replaced in the starting lineup. A couple of the senior players had a lot of strongly worded comments on that, and we also talked about continuing to be aggressive and play positively.

We ended the day thinking we were going to play Bournemouth in our last pool match to determine 3rd/4th place, but I realized late we might still have a shot at 2nd. Bournemouth had beaten Cambridge the previous day, so if we beat them it would create a 3-way tie. I didn’t know the tiebreak procedure, though.

All-in-all, not a bad first day. We could have gotten a better result against Cambridge, but we were competitive in both matches. Coming from an attitude of having attained our primary season goal of reaching Final 8s and secondary one of showing we deserved we belonged, this was a solid outcome.

Building tournament expectations

BUCS announced the draw for volleyball Final 8s on Monday. Actually, they posted two different draws – first putting up one that was as expected, then a couple hours later changing to a surprising one.

Final 8s is played in pool fashion, with two groups of 4. The top two in each pool do a crossover set of semifinals as the progression toward the ultimate championship match. The 3rd place teams match up to decide 5th and 6th and the 4th place teams battle it out for 7th and 8th.

The initial Final 8s draw I saw looked very much like what I anticipated seeing. Teams from the same conference were separated and generally speaking the pools looked to have represented a pretty good split in terms of a reasonable seeding of the teams involved.

The new – apparently final – draw replaced the seed-based pools with ones based on a north/south split. That means no separation of conference foes. Since the Northern conference put 3 teams in Finals 8s in both the men’s and women’s field, it means they are practically playing a league round-robin to determine who advances to the semifinals. Why BUCS would do this I don’t know. It doesn’t make a lot of sense in terms of trying to identify the best university teams.

The one positive about these pools is that they likely are more competitive this way. My impression is that the Northern conference teams are the strongest, so having them together and the relatively weaker teams from the other conferences together in the other pool likely makes for tighter group-play matches in the pool stages. Also, these pools kind of represent next year’s premier league groupings.

On the men’s side, we have Bournemouth in our pool. They won our conference (we came second). We lost both matches against them, though there was some good battling. The other two teams in the group are from the South East conference – UEL who came first, and UCL who finished second. UEL is a scholarship program, and they were semifinalists in the Student Cup, so they’re likely to be pretty good. UCL finished 10th in the Student Cup, which was actually behind teams from our Conference who finished lower than we did, so that’s clearly a match we need to think of in terms of being winnable if we play to our abilities.

On the women’s side, we again have Bournemouth in our pool. We actually finished level with them in the conference table on points, but they took first on a tiebreak. We split our two matches this season. Cambridge and KCL are the other two teams. Cambridge finished 2nd in Midlands, though might have been first if they didn’t have an administrative points deduction. They also took 4th in the Student Cup, so they likely will be a solid team, which fits with what I saw of them in Final 8s last year. KCL went undefeated in South East, but beyond that I don’t know anything about them. They didn’t play in Student Cup this year.

Interestingly, the schedule as it currently stands sees both men and women playing Bournemouth in the final group-round fixture. The teams will be battling for position at that point, so those matches could be very interesting and very intense.

The question I will have to address from a coaching perspective with the two teams is how to manage expectations and playing time. The considerations are different for the men and the women.

In the case of the guys we have a situation where the team has a quite young core group we expect back next season. That makes it easier to share playing time around without having to be too focused on results. As I noted above, the teams we face in our pool will be part of the premier league we’ll play in next season and we could face a fourth one in the crossover match, so we get a nice initial view of what that’s going to be like. Having UCL in our group perhaps gives us a chance to go for a better finish than might have otherwise been the case.

On the women’s side the story is different. There are only a couple who will be back with the team next year. That puts a premium on trying to get the most out of this campaign. Also, whereas the guys may simply be physically over-matched in cases, I don’t see that being the case with the women. Could other teams be better? Certainly! But I think the women are likely to be very competitive, especially since they serve and defend quite well, which goes a long way in creating tight matches.

In both cases, though, how I think things will play out based on an honest assessment of where the teams are at and how things actually unfold could be quite different. I need to have contingency plans to deal with potential developments. This isn’t just in terms of line-ups. It’s also in terms of dealing with team and player psychology. It can be a real challenge managing a team (or player) that goes into an event like this with a certain expectation, then has to face the realization that isn’t going to happen. Motivation is a major issue when the goal a team was aiming for is no longer in reach.

Of course as a coach I have to make sure I’m clear with the team and players about expectations and the plan. Things can change on the fly, of course, but there tends to be less trouble with upset players when they know how things are probably going to go. It also helps in managing performance expectations and dealing with negative developments.