Back at it for another intense day of sessions!

For Day 1 and Day 2 I was attending the convention from home. For this day of fun I was in my office on the Medaille Campus. It’s all a function of COVID-related constraints.

Because of my location and potential distractions (like dealing team gear that’s arrived), I decided to focus on sessions that looked like probably wouldn’t have a big visual component. I learned that lesson after attending Jamie Morrisson’s blocking session on Day 2. So much visual info!

So here’s how my day went.

Starting with some catch-up

Because of a recruit meeting, I wasn’t able to watch John Cook’s session from the end of Day 2 where he presented his case for moving the NCAA women’s season to Spring. I really wanted to hear that, so I checked it out before diving in to the new day’s events.

John started off with two of what he called “tactical” changes. The first was to suggest going to the Molten ball the NCAA men use. The second was suggesting mandating a move to Taraflex flooring for athlete long-term health and safety reasons. Plus, it looks better on TV. The rest of it was all about making the case for moving the women’s season to Spring. I’m going to address that in a separate post rather than dump it all here.

Session 1 – Developing Practice Routines to Promote Mental Strength

This was presented by BYU Men’s coach Shawn Olmstead and one of his players, along with Dr. Craig Manning. The discussion used neurological research to talk about developing the ability to get the unconscious mind working more fully and efficiently. A big focus was on being simple and precise when working on skill development.

Between session talk

Kathy DeBoer and Chris McGown had a 15-minute discussion of the new Athletes Unlimited pro league, which Chris is involved with.

Session 2 – Orginizing, Giving Feedback and Making the Most of Your Staff

Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch presented this one. She started with a discussion of how important delegation is for the head coach (and even assistants in some cases) and making sure staff composition covers important bases of talent and aptitude. That progressed to talking about the need to ensure staff members – especially new ones – know the expectations and requirements of the job. She has a Coaches Manual for the sake of consistency of coaching (key words, etc.).

In the latter part of her talk she got into the staff feedback side of things. A feature of that was having a specific schedule for 1-on-1 meetings – monthly and annual. She has the staff come in with their own agenda.

Session 3 – Men’s Coaches General Meeting

Like the Day 2 general meeting I went to for Division III, this was a scheduled as a 75 minute session. It ran long. I’m going to have to go back and pick up what came after 75 minutes because I had to cut out to get ready for my next event. During the time we were on, though, the topics of discussion included scheduling, diversity, the Stanford program, and an update from First Point. There were several items still left on the itinerary when I had to step away.

Career Center meeting

I missed out on a round of sessions because I’d arranged a meeting with one of the advisors in the career center. I’m not in the job market at this point, of course, but I wanted to get some advice on how I present myself. Since my coaching background is somewhat non-tradition given my overseas experience, plus stuff like this blog and Volleyball Coaching Wizards.

This was actually an extremely informative 30 minute discussion. I got a lot of tips for improving my resume, both from a strictly technical perspective, as well as in terms of content and structure. I don’t know when next I’ll use them, but it was good career advice to get. It made me wish I’d done it years ago!

Session 4 – Kevin Hambly keynote

This was 25 minutes. I didn’t actually see it at it’s release because I was driving home from the office on campus at the time. Made sure to watch it when I got there, though. The identity aspect was mainly related to individuals, and particularly not being just focused on “I am a volleyball player”. The autonomy part was giving the players choice, albeit in a constrained fashion. The freedom aspect was players having the space to make mistakes, particularly in the training context. For example, “We never talk about missed serves.”

That’s it

Hambly’s session was the last one. After that they had a quartet of “Choose your own adventure” sessions. Each ran 30 minutes. One featured a DJ set. Another was a comedy set. The third was drink mixing tips from a mixologist. The remaining one had to do with the video game Among Us.

Nightly live stream

Here’s the video from my stream recaping of the day. I was once again joined by AVCA Hall of Famer Ruth Nelson. A former colleague of mine, and current NAIA assistant coach, Tim Alaniz, also joined in the fun.

The event wrapped up on Day 4.

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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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