Today was the first full day of action with an 11:00AM Eastern start. But first I did some catch-up.

Competitive Training: How Coaching and Cues Can Maintain Culture & Consistency

I started the day watching Mike Ligenfelter’s presentation from Day 1 that I could watch at the scheduled time. Mike spent the first part of the session on front of a white board talking base principles. The things that struck me as particularly important takeaways were:

The second part of the session was on court. Mike ran his club kids through a series of very game-like exercises – some cooperative and some competitive. The first was what I call Side v Side, but has other names. He transitioned that into a kind of OH vs OH hitter game.

Next up was a cooperative 3 v 3 sort of thing, but with an over the net element like this game. Mike called it Brazilian, but I already have a game by that name. 🙂

The rest of the exercises where just variations on 6 v 6 using different ways of scoring, including wash points and bonus balls.

Through the whole session provided constant cues and feedback to the players while play was going.

Session 1 – Blocking: How Mechanics and Systems Fit Together

There were 7 options to chose from, three of which I was interested. I opted to sit in on the one from Jamie Morrison. You may recall that I did a Coaching Conversation with him on setting. He’s a pretty good presenter.

I’m definitely going to have to re-watch this session! Jamie packed a lot in to 45 minutes. There was a whole bunch of stuff on technique. Two of the bigger picture ideas, though, were thinking of your blocking as a series of systems based on the 1st contact quality of the other team and making sure to always connect blocking to transition.

Session 2 – Technical and Tactical Considerations for First Contact

There were 6 sessions plus a couple learning labs in this block. It was a tough choice as there were 4 sessions of interest. I opted for Hugh McCutcheon’s presentation. It was a fairly straightforward discussion of how Hugh teaches passing and serving, with some additional discussion included about tactical aspects of both.

Session 3 – Karch’s Keynote

This was only a 15 minute talk. It had the title of Coaching Lessons, from High School to the Olympics. Basically, it was about challenging assumptions. Karch provided lots of examples of assumptions he’s come across through his career.

Session 4: Division III General Meeting

This 75-minute slot was blocked out for the various category general meetings. I’d never actually attended one of them before. Got some interesting updates on Region realignment for Division III (going from 8 to 10), what’s happening with the NCAA Rules committee, and a few other bits and pieces.

Session 5 – Recruiting Coordinator: How to Organize and Manage

This slot featured 8 presentations plus 3 Learning Labs. Because we’re right in the think of it at Medaille, I opted to do this session from Florida’s Associate Head Coach Shannon Wells. Lots of good stuff in the session in terms of prioritization, using UniversityAthlete, creating a depth chart, and having a monthly communication calendar. There was also discussion of both the content and the potential methods of communication (email, social media, etc.)

Session 6 – The Evolution of HP: Elements of USA Volleyball’s National Team Development Program

Another slot with seven presentation options and a couple Labs, and another with multiple interesting sessions. I decided to hear what Erin Virtue and Peter Vint had to say about the changes USA Volleyball is making to the now former High Performance program. Turns out it was all Peter talking. He used quite a bit of research to outline why USAV is changing course and also what the new structure will looking like and how it will work. Interesting stuff.

Among the focal points he mentioned was making small-sided games a big feature of what they’ll be doing, especially for younger athletes. You know I’m a HUGE fan of that!

Missed the last of it

There was a 7th session slot. That featured John Cook’s keynote making the case for moving the college women’s season to Spring. I had a recruit call to get on, though, so I couldn’t watch it at its release time.

Live stream

I once again had a live stream to talk about the day’s events. This time AVCA Hall of Famer Ruth Nelson joined me to share her views.

Here’s my recap of Day 3.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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