Tag Archive for volleyball coach conference

Report: 2017 USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Clinic

Back in 2015 I attended my first USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Clinic. I wrote a report about the experience. I just attended the 2017 edition, along with the Level III Coaches Accreditation Program (CAP). Here’s the report on that one.

Day 1

As per usual, the program began in the evening with a social and USAV presentation. The presentations focused on 2016 developments in the various national programs. We heard about what was happening in the High Performance program from its director. Karch Kiraly took us through things for the Women’s National Team, and Nate Ngo from the Men’s staff did the same for them. We also got to hear from Bill Hamiter on the performance of the sitting teams. The last part featured Kathy DeBoer (AVCA), Jerritt Elliot (Texas), and Alexis Shifflett (women’s sitting team player) sharing short personal stories. After that it was just mingling and socializing.

Day 2

The first full day began in the gym. Jerritt Elliot went first. He focused on middle blocker transition. In particular, he concentrated on the transition from the net to attack readiness being as quick and efficient as possible. Keegan Cook (Washington) followed up with a session on transition offense. He shared some interesting heat maps and stats related to passing targets and other things. The third court session was from Beth Launiere (Utah) on serve receive offense.

Following the normal pattern, the court sessions were followed by breakout groups. Attendees are divided into a number of groups (6-8 people) in advance for these. They are then assigned members of the clinic cadre on a rotating basis. This is to allow for follow-on discussion guided by those cadre. Unlike in 2015, I did not get any of the higher profile small group leaders.

The last two morning sessions were in the presentation theatre. Nikki Holmes (North Carolina State/Girls’ Youth National Team) and Jesse Tupac (Denver) talked about data collection and statistics use. The other session was by Jimmy Stitz, the sports psychologist and strength & conditioning coach for the Women’s National Team.

After lunch, Dr. Andrew Gregory (Assistant professor of Orthopedics and Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University) did a good session on injury prevention and supplement use. Bill Hamiter came next with a more detailed exploration of the Women’s Sitting Team’s build up to the Paralympics and performance in them. Wrapping up the trio, Karch did a talk about transitions. Small group breakout sessions followed.

There was a “mic’d up match” that evening featuring Keegan and Beth leading teams that evening. I did not attend, though.

Day 3

It was back in the gym for two sessions to start the day. Beth did her session on blocking. In particular, she talked about differentiating in-system vs. out-of-system schemes. She also talked about how blockers could prepare for transition. Keegan did the second session. It was titled “Practice to Performance”. It looked at ways of doing some basic stats in practice and how those could be applied. Small group break-outs followed.

Back in the lecture theatre, Aaron Brock (USA Men’s Athletic Trainer) did a talk focused largely on recovery. After that, Shelton Collier (Wingate) and Jonah Carson (Mountain View VB Club) did a joint session on coaching mentorship. In particular, they focused on efforts in the High Performance program to develop the coaches there.

After lunch, Matt Fuerbringer (Men’s National Team) did a court session on transition work. Karch came after that doing his own session. It didn’t really seem to focus on any one thing in particular. Karch just coached a practice session with the demonstration players and everyone watched. Again, small group sessions came after.

The final two sessions were once more in the theatre. Kathy DeBoer did a DISC-oriented presentation. The main thrust of it was understanding differences in personality types and how that impacts communication and interaction. Finally, there was a panel discussion. It featured five members of the Women’s Sitting team talking about their experiences.

Thoughts and Observations

The demonstration team was a groups of 14s. Apparently, they were a last minute fill in. This created some challenges for the coaches presenting court sessions. On the one hand it made things less efficient than would have been true with older, better players. On the other hand, many of the attendees were club coaches working with players in similar age groups. That made things more directly translatable for them. Also, they couldn’t say stuff like, “That’s all good, but it doesn’t apply to my level.”

I’m to the point where on-court sessions don’t really do a lot for me anymore. There were a couple of interesting nuggets, but mainly I was waiting for them to be done so I could get out of the uncomfortable bleachers. Some of the theatre sessions were repeats of material from CAP III, but mostly it was interesting.

For me, though, the biggest benefit to the HPCC is the location and what it allows. The event is at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. That means there are dorms available and a common dining hall. I didn’t stay in the dorm this time around (did in 2015), but once more the meals were great. They are excellent opportunities to talk with other coaches – from national team staff all the way down to local area youth coaches. This makes for a different type of event than something like the AVCA Convention.

I’m not saying the HPCC is necessarily better than the AVCA. The latter is much more college oriented, while the former caters more to Juniors coaches. I do think, though, that the single track and common dining help to make it a bit more intimate.

Going to coaching seminars is exhausting!

As I reported last week, I spent Thursday through Saturday doing an FIVB technical seminar on outside hitting and serving, and then Sunday attending the annual Volleyball England Coaches Conference. I’m completely wiped out!

It all started with a 8 hour trip from Exeter to Kettering. Now part of that was a lengthy layover in London because when I booked my train tickets I was expecting to have a meeting in there, which I ended up not having. Still, it was an early start and a mid afternoon arrival. I later met up and had dinner with Mark Lebedew, my partner in the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project, and the FIVB instructor for the seminar. My roommate for the rest of the week – an experienced coach from Belgium – arrived later that night. That would end up being the night I got the most sleep.

The seminar started at 9:00 the next morning. You can see the smiling faces of all us “delegates”, instructors Sue Gozansky (who ran a parallel setting seminar) and Mark, and the Volleyball England staff running things here. As you’d expect, England had the highest representation, but coaches from a couple other nations were also in attendance. Each day started around the same time, and we went until about 5:00 or 6:00 PM each day, but then over dinner and several hours in the hotel lounge area continued to talk volleyball and coaching until late at night. That, combined with not sleeping particularly well, had me (and others) running on willpower at times toward the end.

Several of the seminar attendees – as well as Mark and Sue – carried over for Sunday’s conference. This one was different from the first I attended in 2013 or last year’s. I think it represents a transition based on feedback and expressed interest. The 2013 conference was largely focused on talking about where V.E. was looking to take things, with only a small technical element at the end. The 2014 version had a bit more technical, but still had a bunch of conversations that were more organizational in focus. This year’s edition was clearly designed to focus more on the actual coaching side of things. It started with Sue & Mark doing a great 45-minute Q&A on team building concepts. After that there were technical sessions on transition hitting, block & defense, season planning, and strength & conditioning. I skipped out on the last hour or so in order to be able to make my train back.

I’ll get into some of the finer points of what was discussed in future posts (I’m also hoping to get a report on the WEVZA coaching seminar held in Valladolid from a couple coaches I know who attended that). For now let me talk about something related to a question I was asked the second night of the FIVB seminar. That was, to paraphrase, “What were you looking to get out of the event?”

I got that question from one of the Volleyball England staff during the evening when a bunch of us were hanging around in the hotel lounge. I mentioned one or two other things, but my initial response was, “This.” By that I meant connecting and interacting with other coaches – some of whom I knew before, but most of whom I did not. For me, that aspect of attending events like these is the most valuable. In part it’s networking – which from a career perspective can be very important. In part it is about getting different perspectives on things.

As a side note, I was again surprised at the number of coaches who told me they read this blog. I got a lot of congratulations on landing the new job I mentioned in my log post the other day (more on that soon, too). I also had several coaches talking about the Wizads project. It was cool to hear they are as excited about it as Mark and I are.

More volleyball coaching education this week

This should be an interesting week.

On Wednesday I head off to Kettering. I haven’t been there since last summer when I helped out with England Girls Juniors and Cadet trials. This time around the focus will be on coaching development. Nominally, I’m attending the FIVB coaching seminar on Outside Hitting and Serving. There is also a setting seminar going on at the same time. It was a tough choice picking between the two. I ended up going with the hitter one because I’ve spent less time focused on those area in my coaching career than on setting. Also I’ll get to heckle my Volleyball Coaching Wizards partner, Mark Lebedew, who is presenting the seminar. Sue Gozansky, is running the setter one.

After the FIVB seminar, on Sunday, will be the Volleyball England annual Coaches Conference. Sue and Mark will both take part in that as well to talk about team aspects. There are also a couple of technical seminars and it looks like one on strength and conditioning. This is the official agenda.

During the week I’m hoping to have time to get Sue’s interview for the Wizards project recorded, and maybe a couple of others as well. Honestly, being able to interact again with my fellow coaches is at least as big a motivation for me as the educational sessions. Look forward to a report.

Coaching seminar decisions

I’ve got a bit of a conundrum.

Volleyball England is hosting a pair of FIVB coaching technical seminars the first week of June – one on setting, the other on outside hitting/serving. The former will be presented by Sue Gozansky, and the latter by Mark Lebedew. They run over three days, from June 4th to the 6th. The following day will be the annual V.E. Coaches Conference, which I’ve attended the last two years. I’ve had these events marked on my calendar for a while as I think it will be a good opportunity to learn and connect with other coaches.

The other day, though, I found out about another seminar going on at the same time. The Western European Volleyball Zone Association (WEVZA) is hosting a 3-day event June 5th to 7th in Valladolid Spain. It’s featured speakers will be Stelian Moculescu of VFB Friedrichshafen (2015 German men’s champs); Miguel Ángel Falasca of PGE Skra Bełchatów in Poland (Champions League Final Four), and John Kessel of USA Volleyball. I know people who went to this event last year an had good things to say.

Tough decision!