Coaching course final thoughts

If you saw my posts from going through the Volleyball England Level 3 coaching course you know it covered quite a bit of different material. After the exam we took some time to talk about the course. The way the certifications are designed, things are meant to work this way:

Level 1: For coaches running drills and such in a supervised fashion. Think assistant coach.

Level 2: For coaches running training sessions unsupervised. This is meant to be the minimum requirement for coaching in the National Volleyball League (NVL) at the upper levels. It is not well-enforced, though.

Level 3: For coaches running teams over a full season. It has been suggested that this be the minimum requirement for Supers 8s coaches. Is I understand it, however, that’s not been moved on yet.

I’ve said many times that these sorts of structures are often not reflective of coaching reality at the local level. It’s been my experience that a lot of coaches end up leading teams (not sessions) because they are available and know a bit about the sport. Certification programs generally don’t reflect this reality that well. This is fine if the governing body is working toward developing a collection of quality coaches to work in the higher levels of the game. Alas, most coaches aren’t in that mix.

Anyway, it was an interesting mix of coaches in the course. Only half of them were native English. Just a few actively worked with youth players specifically, despite the focus of the program. Not a big deal there, though, as most of what we talked about in the course was generally applicable.

Personally, I was looking for something a bit more advanced than what we got, but overall I’m not disappointed in the experience. There was plenty in there to stimulate thoughts and ideas, and being able to be around the youth national teams in training and preparing for the NEVZA U17 tournament was a definite plus.

And of course it’s always great to talk shop with other coaches.

For some time I’ve been going back and forth over whether I should attend the AVCA annual convention in Seattle next month. It’s a major investment, especially with the travel from England. I think, now, though, that I will regret it if I don’t go.

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John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women's team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

7 comments

  1. John Forman John Forman says:

    I can appreciate your situation. The women’s club team I’ve been coaching has a major turnout issue. We’ve had to cancel the last two training sessions (only do 1 a week!) because of insufficient attendance. They are currently in Division 1 (second tier, below Super 8s), but could very well be going down this season. Several key players from last year are out and there isn’t a developmental structure in place to bring players up through the system. One of my goals for this season is to set in place a structure where the university club I coach is integrated with the adult/juniors club the women’s team is under. That will massively increase numbers in the club and allow for a broader array of teams. We’ll see how it goes.

  2. Oliver Wagner says:

    After read through your course log I think day one should have been the most advanced. I have to revise what I said about the German A course compared to the Volleyball England Level 3 course. Most of the stuff you are reporting on is part of the first two levels here in Germany. Our instructors tried to push some of the tactical topics like defense formations or attacking schemes to the next level. at the A course, though.

    We spend most of the time with analyzing the structure of the game just to come to the conclusion that we have to practice within the rhythm of the game. Although there were some interesting details about how often a setter, middle or outside hitter is jumping during the three rotations in the front row. But reading those numbers would have been enough. Other time consuming topics were from the sports medicine sector like the energy metabolism or injury prophylaxis. What I liked was the time we spend on the psychological side of volleyball. Not only the game itself but situations that might occur outside the court. We had some role plays about a crisis within the team with a alpha “animal” trying to get more money out of the club or a press conference after a tough loss. I was playing the journalist because my original profession is exactly this πŸ™‚

    We also had some interesting hours in talking and being lectured about athletic training.

    On the practical side there have been three practices with a second league team for three of us.

    • John Forman John Forman says:

      Maybe I should take the German A course! πŸ™‚

      Sounds like it got into some interesting areas. Managing team dynamics is so important, but tends to get little attention in many of these certification programs.

      You’re right about the V.E. course. Aside from the material specifically related to youth development, much of the material wasn’t of a particularly high level. For example, I wouldn’t have expected to be working on something like team balance and offense/defense playing systems in a 3rd stage course.

      But that reflects the progression V.E. have laid out. This course is the one meant for those working with teams over a season, while the precursor courses are aimed at training session coaching. Right now it seems like the expectation is that one then progresses on to the FIVB program.

      • Oliver Wagner says:

        They won’t let you in πŸ˜€ Each regional association (for the 16 federal states) can suggest one candidate each year.

        I think the difference might come from the different approach. Here in Germany you need the first level certificate if you want to coach in the minor leagues. The second level is recommended if you want to coach in the fourth or fifth league (depending of the regional rules). And from the second league or higher you need the A certificate. That makes it a huge difference if I got you right.

        • John Forman John Forman says:

          It’s supposed to be that Level 2 is required if you want to coach a club team in England, but it’s not really enforced. In the States one is required to have done IMPACT (4-hour course) or gained the CAP I certification to be able to coach Juniors. At the high school and collegiate levels no such requirement formally exists (beyond first aid/CPR), though clearly a certification enhances one’s credential.

          So which level are you coaching at?

          • Oliver Wagner says:

            I started to change from Journalism to coaching two and a half years ago. It was a major step (backwards) on the financial side πŸ˜‰ After two years in the Regionalliga (once the third league, after they put in a new third league last year, now the fourth league) the team has to consolidate in the fifth league. We have a structural problem at Husum. When the kids are turning 19 or 20 they are leaving town. No university close enough.

            Right now I am implementing a new youth program which should help us developing more youngsters early enough to help us in the first team.

            The past two years have been frustrating. With a squad of 8 and one or two injuries all the time we sometimes went to our games with six players. No libero no substitute. The boys responded well, but you need help from the bench in the Regionalliga.

            Now we are playing one league down and there are only four players left from last year. One is out with a shoulder, one is a very good beach player and has some trouble getting accustomed to indoor volleyball. The rest of the players are coming from our last years second team which couldn’t hold the sixth league πŸ™‚ But we are doing okay and I think we will win some matches in the second half of the season. We will be much better next year with lot’s of talented players…

            I also work as a home based coach for our state’s vb association, working with the all-state players located in our region. An I am an instructor for coaching courses in our state of Schleswig-Holstein.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.

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