The last calendar year was probably marginally better for most people than 2020. That might not be saying a whole lot, though. Here are the highlights of how my year went, and what I’ve got in mind for 2022.

Travel & Education

I did a bit more travel in 2021 than was the case in 2020, but not of the sort I’ve done in the past with trips (particularly abroad) to see coaches and teams at work. I, of course, traveled for matches during the Medaille College Men’s and Women’s seasons. In May I attended my first major juniors tournament since 2018, and my first in Boston. I spent most of June in my native Rhode Island relaxing, but did get out for a couple of boys’ high school matches. Then, last month, I went to Columbus for the AVCA Convention. I did a live stream talk about it the other day with a first-time attendee in which we shared our thoughts.

Beyond the Convention, though, I didn’t do much in the way of specific education. I have one or two books I’m still working on, but I haven’t completed anything new in the space in a while. Quite usual for me! I’m feeling a bit guilty about that as I write this.

Of course I’ve read shorter pieces like blog posts. And I’ve watched some videos. Most of that has been documented in my weekly newsletter. And there’s always the forum and other discussions. Can’t discount those.

Content stuff

The Coaching Conversations Podcast kind of petered out, which is a bit disappointing. I just found myself too busy with Medaille stuff to be able to keep up with a regular production schedule. Maybe I’ll be able to revive it later. I do have a thought about doing something with more of a “bites” kind of concept. They’d be quick little things to think about. Like an audio version of blog posts. Seems like that would be an easier thing for me to manage with my current workload.

MasterCoaches Weekly Buzz carried on through all of 2021. We’re now more than a year and a half going on that show. We had a holiday break, but episodes begin again in a couple weeks.

On the academic research side, I had the home advantage work I’m doing with an co-author in England accepted to a conference. I got to present it late one evening (conference was virtual, but done out of Korea) during the Medaille Women’s preseason in August. That went pretty well. Prior to that presentation the paper the presentation was based on was rejected by a journal. We’re using the feedback from both those things to produce an improved version that hopefully will get published this year.

Site traffic

One of my big stories of 2021 is how much readership growth the blog experienced. It’s something I started noticing back in February, and I tracked it the rest of the year. With the exception of August, every month of the year broke it’s prior page view peak. In half of the months those news highs were more than 50% above the prior high! And I’m sure August would have also been a record had the site not experienced a technical glitch where views didn’t get counted for several days. Before last year there were only 3 times when the site got more than 30k page views in a month. In 2021 six months saw 30k+ page views!

The prior annual peak page view tally (261k) fell in September. Readership crossed the 300k total in early November, and 350k fell in mid-December. The final tally was just a hair shy of 360k, a jump of about 40% from the prior peak. Site visitors surged from about 133k to up to over 185k! The blog hasn’t seen this kind of growth since back in 2015 when it was still relatively new.

Here’s where readers came from.

Interestingly, the top 6 are exactly the same as in 2020. After that, only Germany (also at #8 in 2020) held its place in the Top 10. I don’t recall China, Ireland, or Sweden being in the Top 10 ever previously.

Here are the most viewed pages in the last year.

  1. Volleyball Set Diagram
  2. Volleyball Try-Out Drill Ideas
  3. How to teach the overhand serve to volleyball beginners
  4. Putting together a starting line-up
  5. Pin hitter in volleyball – what is it?
  6. Whose ball? Seam responsibilities
  7. Favorite drills/games to practice serve receive?
  8. Scoring Serving and Passing Effectiveness
  9. Volleyball Camp Drills and Games
  10. Volleyball games for training and fun

And here are the most read new posts from 2021.

  1. Favorite serve-receive drills for older players
  2. Head vs Assistant Coach approach
  3. Help training setter consistency
  4. NCAA volleyball rules change survey
  5. NCAA rules changes poll follow-up
Looking ahead to the new year

I mentioned above that one of my intentions for 2022 is to get that home advantage research published in an academic journal. My co-author and I actually have two more papers in the works behind that waiting to get fully fleshed out.

I’m also working on the next Volleyball Coaching Wizards book – Wizard Women. I’m in the process of editing the interview transcriptions. It’s a fair amount of work, but I’m making progress. Look for an update on that in the weeks to come.

Beyond that, I’m going into the year without any particular plan. The nature of things at this point has me more in a day-to-day kind of mode, so I’m not really looking all that far ahead. Maybe that will change at some point, but for now I’m just focused on grinding on what’s in front of me at the moment.

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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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