Shortly after I wrote Coaches doing “what works”, an article came up on my LinkedIn feed. It did so because Munciana’s Mike Lingenfelter, who I interviewed for Volleyball Coaching Wizards, had left a comment. The author intended the article as a story about leadership. And it’s a good story from that perspective.

Me being who I am, however, I couldn’t help but latch on to part of the story.

As we got closer to the USA Olympic National Championships, we would be pushed to our limit strength and conditioning wise – we would have to SPRINT up the entire ski hill, and the culmination of our training would end with 3 full ski hills IN A ROW. Truly torturous! 

If you read my post about volleyball players running the mile, you might guess my reaction to having a team do ski hill sprints.

Why the BLEEP would you do ski hill sprints!?!?

Based on their description as “torturous”, these weren’t short hills. So we’re talking about activities that are not in line with the energy demands of our sport. There might be justification for them at other points (I’ll leave that to the pros in the field to say). Certainly that’s not right before your biggest competition, however.

And yet, because that team was so successful, there will be those who latch on to this training method thinking that somehow it’s a driver of that team’s success. It could even be some of those players who move into coaching who do so (or as leaders and/or parents). It’s the sort of misattribution and “in spite of” thing I talked about in the prior post.

I know some readers of this will throw out the camaraderie development angle. By that I mean the idea that joint struggle produces group cohesion. It can certainly happen, which is part of the reason I said these sprints might be useful at a different part of the year. A bit too late if you’re doing it right before national championships.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager for Volleyball England (overseeing the national team pipeline systems), 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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