Volleyball England Level 3 Coaching Course: Day 1

So here’s the skinny on the first day of the Volleyball England Level 3 coaching course from when I took it in 2013.

The day started off with a discussion of coaching philosophy and the importance of developing one. That carried into looking at the types of skills and attributes required of and found in successful coaches. It seems as though there will be regular revisiting to these topics at later points in the course.

After that we had a discussion about ensuring team balance when developing a line-up. That can be viewed from any number of perspectives, individually or in combination. That then spun into a look at playing systems.

From there we got into a conversation about the importance of the Performance -> Observation -> Analysis -> Planning -> Performance cycle. As part of that we considered the things which restrict our ability to properly observe our players objectively, and how we can go from big picture to small picture in analyzing the source of things we need to address. Part of the analytic discussion had to do with the way the match score sheet can be helpful in looking at points by rotation.

There was also a talk about how coaches often fall into using systems and methods they played as players themselves or that they saw used by those they respected or admired. You may recall me talking about this in Understand what you’re learning before you teach it.

From there we had a talk about practice planning. I’ll talk more about that later.

The primary part of the training ended with some work on the skill of tossing the ball for setter training.

See Day 2 here.

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.


  1. Oliver Wagner says:

    Don’t know why my comment was attached to the “upper and lower body power” article. It was meant to be on this topic here 🙂

    Anyway I will read through your log the next days but from this article here I got the impression that a Volleyball England Level 3 course has much more to offer then the German equivalent. I had the chance to attend the coaching A course of the German federation DVV last year. It starts with a nine day course which almost completely reminded me of school. All day long “teachers” lectured us on their topics with little discussion. The few exceptions energized the hole group.

    What annoyed me most was that most of the topics were already treated at the C and B courses and no fit for the highest coaching education in our country. Take alone the topics you mentioned on the very first day of the Volleyball England course: none of them have ever surfaced in one of the German courses. At least I can’t remember. It might during one of the periods most of us had fallen asleep though.

    Almost a year later part two of the course lasts for four days which includes a written exam on the memorized course content and finally an interesting topic a visit to the German cup finals with some scouting tasks. We also have to defend our written homework.

    Part 3 lasts for two or three days more then a year after the first meeting and contains foremost the oral exam on the same content then the written one plus questions about the homework of other coaches on the course.

    Are there exams at the VB England courses? Anyway I am looking forward to read about your next experiences…

    • John Forman John Forman says:

      There was indeed and exam at the end of the V.E. Level 3 course. I don’t know if that holds for the lower level ones as well. I was granted Level 2 status directly due to having done the USA Volleyball CAP II certification some years back. I haven’t had the opportunity to see how the Level 1 and 2 course run as yet.

      I’m actually in the process of seeing how I can re-certify that CAP II at the moment, as it lapsed. I’m hoping they will let me count the V.E. course toward doing so, though if needs be I could sit CAP II once more next month in Seattle while I’m there for the AVCA Convention. I do recall both CAP I and II having exams at the conclusion, by the way.

      I like the part of the German course that involves scouting. There is an element of that in the V.E. 3 course in terms of evaluating players against the technical standards they have developed (though they are quite vague!), but not so much about actually analyzing a team’s play. I do think the way they have a requirement that you journalize your coaching and have an external review later on is good. Puts the focus on continuing to grow and learn as opposed to just going on a course for a few days. Also lets the instructors see if coaches are actually putting the course stuff to work! I’d like to see USA Volleyball implement something like that as well.

      • Oliver Wagner says:

        I hope nobody expects me to put most of the stuff from the course to work. The problem I see here is that they teach mostly either outdated stuff or spend too much time for sport biology or the structure of volleyball. I heard too many things that you could easily read in a book (or two). No need to get hours of lectures on this. I think that there are much more important things to hear about and discuss about for coaches. When I find the schedule of that course I will post it here later.

        I will not get down on everything we did, but I still think that the German coaching education needs a major renewal. It has too much school thinking in it and a good part is simply outdated.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.