During my second year in England I was watching some NCAA women’s volleyball (via ESPN) with two Exeter university players. At one point during the match, the male player of the pair turned turned and asked how I could handle dealing with coaching them – meaning the Exeter teams – after having coached Division I volleyball in the States. I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Firstly, I should note that I think we were watching Kansas vs. Georgia. This is meaningful because while I did indeed coach DI collegiate volleyball, I was at a significantly lower level. Not that these two teams in particular are known for being national championship contenders in volleyball. They do both play in good conferences, though. While I did coach against the likes of Wisconsin, U. San Diego, USC, Minnesota (under Mike Hebert), and Penn State, it’s not the same as coaching in programs of that caliber.

We can certainly have a discussion about the meaning of coaching at those different levels, but I’ll leave that for another day. The point here is that I couldn’t claim to have coached elite level athletes. Later, of course, I coached some former PAC-12 and ACC players at Svedala. But I digress.

Secondly, I’d coached at all sorts of different levels of volleyball over the years up to that point. It started with high school volleyball many, many years ago. From then up to the time of this conversation my experience included juniors volleyball from 12-and-unders right up to 18-and-unders, different calibers of collegiate teams, a boys’ scholastic team, and the various things I did in England (see my resume). In other words, it’s not like all I’d ever done was coach at a higher level than what I was coaching those days.

More than all that, though, I felt like I fall under the “coaches coach” classification. Some might argue I have a coaching addiction. Might be hard to refute that given how many teams I was involved in coaching those days. 🙂

I will admit to having preferences in my coaching. Working with young kids doesn’t tend to be my thing (see this post), and I generally favor coaching female players more than male ones. That said, I helped a 12-and-under team win in regional championship once upon a time, led a boys scholastic team to a gold medal in my first head coaching experience, and saw the Exeter guys reach three straight Final 8s during my time in England, so I’ve certainly had success outside my main comfort zones.

The bottom line, though, is that I really get a lot out of coaching. I talk a bit about that here. It has to do teaching and developing these players. It’s about maximizing a given team’s potential. I think those who are really passionate about coaching probably think the same way.

Agree? Disagree?

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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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