In Part 1 of presenting the results of my coaching education survey I shared the findings from the Who and How parts of the survey. Now I’m going to shift to the What. By that I mean the topics respondents mentioned. All of the questions from this part of the survey were open-ended. That means they don’t work for nice graphs like I shared in Part 1. As a result, I’ll have to share my what I can condense from the responses. Here’s goes!

Question: In terms of your day-to-day coaching on-court (practices, matches, preparation for both), where do you feel WEAKEST/lack confidence/would like to be better?

… with the follow-up of … Drilling down on that, what specific things would you like to understand better/learn more about/improve on?

Many of the responses to this question related to match preparation and or management. Some mentioned scouting the other team beforehand and/or creating a good game plan. Others talked about being able to make in-match adjustments based on what the other team is doing. Then there were those who talked about managing their team better – motivation, timeouts, etc.

Not surprisingly, a lot of responses focused on practice planning. Some of it was general in terms of picking or creating the right drills/games, with a few narrowing down to specific areas (e.g. blocking drills). Several folks focused on how it all works together in terms of flow, progression, time, etc. Others said they want to be better at actually managing things in practice to keep the focus and intensity where it needs to be, provide the necessary instruction and feedback, and the like. A few talked about developing a longer-term plan (e.g. for a season).

Quite a few coaches said they want to get better at communication. For many that’s in terms of them communicating with their players, but in some cases it had to do with facilitating better communication in the team. And parallel to that latter part are those who talk about developing better team chemistry.

A number of coaches said they want to get better working with certain positions (e.g. training setters). For others it’s systems and/or tactics. Still others focused on one or more specific skills.

I also got a few responses about coach psychology. By that I mean the insecurities we sometimes have, like imposter syndrome, feeling out of our depth, etc.

Question: Outside the on-court stuff, what parts of coaching are your biggest challenges, cause you the most stress, etc.?

If you guessed that parents came a up a lot in response to this question, you’d be right! A total of 26 responses start with “Parent” or “Parents”, with a whole bunch more including them in some way or another.

There were a fair number of replies related to coaches’ personal lives – work/life balance, time away from family, finances, etc. Tryouts and stuff related to them (e.g. communicating results) came up several times. Managing playing time (aside from the parent drama related to that) was also mentioned fairly often. So too was admin work and organizational politics.

Naturally, a lot of responses relate to player issues. That includes behavior problems, motivation, school grades, interpersonal relationships, etc. And, of course, mental health came up in a few different ways.

Question: Looking back from where you are now, what did you struggle most with as a developing coach?

This question got more interesting to me when I saw how much experience the respondents to the survey had as a group. Some of that is good in terms of it incorporating different phases of a coach’s career. The drawback is that for many the earlier stages of development happened quite a few years ago. They’re harder to remember!

Confidence came up in a bunch of responses. Same with communication in its various forms. And a number of coaches mentioned things related to transitioning their knowledge from playing to coaching.

A number of the things mentioned in the two sections above also came up here, as you might expect.

Final question

As a last, optional, question I asked respondents the following:

If you have any strong views on the content of coaching education offerings you see – positive or negative – feel free to share them here.

About 45 people provided their thoughts on the subject. There were actually a lot of positive comments about the breadth of what’s available out there right now. Many of the criticisms were ones outlined in Part 1. For example, content reflecting more beginner players came up a couple of times. Material addressing smaller squad situations was also mentioned as a need.

Additionally, some coaches talked about the struggle of wading through all that material to find the right stuff for them and integrate it into their work.

Also mentioned multiple times was the need to focus more on the How than on the What. This example wasn’t one anybody brought up, but think of it as the difference between presenting different types of defensive systems vs. talking about how to train those systems. A different angle on the How is stuff like developing effective relationships with players, motivating teams in different situations, and other subjects outside the X’s and O’s of volleyball.

A funny reply was “Karch is my man crush”. lol

That’s it!

All in all, I’d call this survey a very positive exercise. I’ll be able to take a lot out of the response to help craft future content. Since I’ve got a more clear understanding of who is likely to be on the receiving end, I may do a follow up of some kind with more narrowed down questions related to topics.

In the meantime, thanks again to those who took part. I’m happy to continue to get thoughts and input from folks. Feel free to leave them below in the comment section. Or reach out via the contact form.

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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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