This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for 2015-16.

Right now the biggest thing on my mind is my future housing situation in Svedala. The club is in the process of trying to secure accommodation for me. Among the things I’m learning about Sweden, though, is that the housing market is quite tight. Svedala being a fairly small town, one would not tend to expect there to be tons of available housing in the first place, making it that much more of a challenge. I understand in the past the club owned an apartment for the coach, but at some point decided to sell it, meaning now they have to rent something anew each time around.

Adding to the complexity of the situation – at least on my end – is that I have to be out of the house in Exeter in three weeks. I could return on August 10th and stay until my contract with Svedala officially starts September 1st, but I’ve got an offer to return to Bühl in Germany (where I spent about 10 days with the men’s Bundesliga team last Summer) from August 9th through the end of the month. I’m inclined to accept, which would mean no return to England – at least from a living perspective (I’d have to return briefly for PhD-related stuff).

For the moment, what I’ll do from July 25th to August 9th is the open question. I’d like to at least spend a bit of time in Svedala over the summer to get a feel for things, meet some of the club folks and players, etc. The question is whether that can be worked out in a reasonable fashion. One of the returning players has offered me the use of her apartment as she’ll be back home with her family up north for much of the Summer. That’s an option that it looks like I’m going to go with – at least to start. We’ll see how things develop.

Getting to know the team
I continued my conversations with the returning players over the weekend and into this week. I’ve now talked with all of them, and one coming back into the team after a year away (see below). It’s been interesting getting a feel for their personalities. It’s just impressions at this point, though. I’m not going to presume that one Skype conversation each with these young women gives me a full sense of who they are individually. That process has only just barely begun. As additional players are added to the squad in the weeks/months ahead, I’ll look to have conversations with them as well.

Filling out the squad
I found out over the weekend that a player who’d been in the squad during the 2013-14 season has decided to return to Svedala for the new campaign. Although she trained with the team at times last season, her work/travel schedule precluded her from being fully in the squad. That situation has changed, though, and she’s eager to get back involved. Based on what I’ve heard from others, she’ll be a good addition in potentially a few different ways.

There is also another player from the 2013-14 squad – another starter – who would like to come back as well. There are some hurdles which I’m told need to be overcome, though.

I was told the other day that we’re 99% sure of signing a pair of players two fill two of our three spots. This is the “package deal” I mentioned in the last log entry. Terms were agreed with their agent, and contracts were going out. Once things are signed I’ll provide more information. That will leave one more foreign position to be filled.

Competition Schedule
A tentative league schedule has already been put out. Because a team dropped, the women’s Elitserie is only 9 teams this season. That means a standard home-and-away round-robin would only add up to 16 matches. To get that up to 20 the clubs have agreed to a plan where the league is split into 3 geographic groups of 3 teams each. Those three clubs will play each other an addition home-and-away series, adding four matches to the total, bringing the count to 20. I’m not overly keen on the idea of having two teams being over-weighted in where we sit in the standings, especially since one of them is the defending champion, but it is what it is.

I talked last week about the Gran Prix as a potential secondary competition the club could compete in, depending on our performance over the first half of the campaign. The Sports Director yesterday told me there’s something in the works which could add an interesting additional competition to the schedule as well, comprising six more matches. It’s not a done deal, though. If it develops I’ll post the details.

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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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