Year in Review: 2015

Well, 2015 was certainly an interesting and eventful year!

Job

On the personal front, I went through an often frustrating job hunt process in which I put in for over 100 college coaching jobs in the States and only managed to get a single interview out of the process. That all ended positively enough with me landing my first ever job in professional volleyball, though.

Education

I also went through an often frustrating PhD completion process. Things just seemed to drag out. Part of it was semi-intentional related to my funding, but there were long periods when I just wished certain things could move more quickly forward. Again, though, that all ended positively.

Travel

Aside from traveling around Sweden and the Copenhagen area while coaching Svedala, I got in four volleyball trips in 2015. Most of them were to Germany. The first was to hang out with with Mark Lebedew of At Home on the Court. and his then team Berlin Recycling Volleys (Mark now coaches for Jastrzębski Węgiel in Poland). I got to watch them play their big domestic rivals and a CEV Champions League match.

That was in January. Shortly afterwards, Berlin was selected to host the Champions League Final 4. I went back to watch in late March. Pretty cool experience!

In August I made a return visit to TV Bühl. You may recall I spent about 10 days with them in 2014 as well. This time it was closer to three weeks altogether. They were going through the early stages of their preseason. I used it as a kind of coaching preseason of my own as the trip was right before I had to report to Sweden to start work with Svedala.

The single non-German trip was the one I made back to the States in February to attend the USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Clinic. That was a really worthwhile experience. I came back with a lot of things to think about – and write about, as you may have noticed. Unfortunately, I can’t go again this year. The Svedala schedule is quite full for January and February. I’d do it in a heartbeat if I could, though!

I did contemplate going to the AVCA convention last month. In the end, though, it would have been a really tight thing to schedule. Plus it would have put a strain on the budget.

New Project

Alongside finishing my degree and starting a new coaching job, I also began the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project with Mark Lebedew. That has been a really cool new adventure. Yes, it’s been a TON of work! It’s also, however, given me the chance to connect and talk with some really great coaches. We’ve done something like 25 interviews so far, with many, many more folks on the list for future conversations. What’s been really interesting is that the coaches we’ve interviewed are some of the biggest supporters of the project. They all thinks it’s a great idea!

The Blog

Coaching Volleyball crushed it in 2015. It’s as simple as that!

The blog had more than twice as many visitors and page views than it had in 2014 – nearly 60,000 and 130,000 respectively. December, which has normally been one of the quieter months in terms of traffic, saw four days of over 1000 pages views thanks largely to the Rules for coaching volleyball from John Kessel post [with a little help from Volleyball calendar girls (and boys) on one of those days]. The “rules” piece seems to have gone viral on Facebook. Before that one went up, the highest single day for pages views was in the 800s, I believe.

Here’s where the visitors came from.

CoachingVB-2015-Geo

The king of page views for 2015 is the Volleyball Try-Out Drill Ideas post, though. That one garnered over 13,000 looks. Not surprisingly, they were clustered mainly around the start of the school season and the Juniors club season. As such, it was responsible for establishing a new monthly high readership of over 21,000 views in August.

It may not come as any surprise that search engine traffic was the largest contributor to page views given all the interest in the try-out post. Facebook was a distant second. Interestingly, nearly five times as much readership came from there than from Twitter. This is despite the blog having basically the same number of followers on both platforms.

Magazine articles

For a while now the folks at the AVCA have pulled selected posts from the blog to include in the Coaching Volleyball 2.0 online magazine. In 2015, though, I finally got into the main flagship Coaching Volleyball magazine with the first in a series of articles about my experience coaching overseas. I’ve already written a second that should be included in the next issue, though they could use it (and the others to follow) on one of their other platforms.

Looking forward

Honestly, I have no idea where 2016 is going to take me!

With any luck, it will involve a bunch of winning with my Svedala team. Our first shot at hardware (at least in the regular season) is coming up next weekend. We’re the top seed for the 4-team Gran Prix tournament. The club won two years ago, so we’re looking to repeat. After that, it will be all about going for Svedala’s first Elitserie championship. You can keep track of our progress via my coaching log.

Of course, work on the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project will continue. Aside from the interviews themselves, the podcast is something Mark and I have fun doing. It gives us a chance to talk about all the interesting stuff we’re hearing from the Wizards.

The huge number of page views for the try-out drill ideas page makes it pretty clear that there’s a lot of demand for information and ideas on that subject. One of my plans for the new year is to develop something – maybe a mini course – to help folks out there. I’d wanted to do it in 2015, but never seemed to get around to it.

Beyond that, who knows? I’m only on a 1-season contract at Svedala, so at some point I’ll have a decision to make about my future in coaching. At the same time I have a bunch of non-volleyball stuff I’m working on as well. I guess we’ll see where it all takes me! 🙂

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John recently compelted 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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