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

The off-season work continues along three major focal areas I talked about in the last log entry.

Understanding the situation
On Wednesday, as part of the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project, I had the opportunity to interview a highly experienced and successful coach from Sweden (Ismo Peltoarvo). While the focus was on coaching and not Swedish volleyball per se, as background and coaching context information I was able to ask a number of questions. The answers provided me with quite a bit of useful information and insights into volleyball in that country from several different perspectives. It’s stuff I will definitely be able to use moving forward.

Along a similar line, by chance the other day I came across a blog by an American player who was in the Svedala squad during the 2013-14 season. It basically documents her experience over the course of the campaign, though does cut off before season’s end. It provides an interesting perspective on things. Lots of talk about food! 🙂

Actually, one of the things I learned from that blog is about the annual Gran Prix event. I’d heard of it, but wasn’t sure what it was. In many countries there is a cup competition running alongside the primary league campaign. This cup is a knockout tournament into which teams are randomly drawn. If you are familiar with something like the FA Cup in English soccer, it’s the same sort of idea. In Sweden they don’t have a full Cup competition like that. Instead, they have Gran Prix. I don’t know the details for the full thing, which involves multiple divisions in one big weekend event in January. Part of that is a 4-team bracket tournament for the four highest placed teams in the top division (the Elitserie) as of some specific cut-off date. Svedala actually won the Gran Prix in 2013, but failed to qualify for the 2014 edition.

Funnily enough, as I was composing this entry one of the WordPress plug-ins I have working actually pointed me to what looks to be some interesting general information about Sweden that I’m going to have a look at to aid in my broader cultural understanding. I’m also going to start using Duolingo to learn at least a bit of Swedish. The club doesn’t provide language lessons, probably because there are so many English speakers in the country and the short-term stay of most of us foreigners limits the value of that kind of investment.

Getting to know the team
I mentioned last week giving the returning players a little exercise in which I had them think about what they like and dislike about playing volleyball. I started collecting those thoughts and feelings this week, which helps me to both get to know each of them a bit and to start forming a picture of the team overall. Obviously, the roster is a long way from being set (see below), so there remains much to be done still on that front.

I also have have conversations with some of the players, with more to come in the near future. It’s interesting to compare the difference in the interactions with young players vs. older ones. Perhaps not surprisingly, the more experienced ones have more questions about things like how I coach.

The Svedala player blog I mentioned above is also a potential source of insights. That’s from two seasons back, but a few of the players in the current squad were on that team. If nothing else, there may be some interesting stories. 🙂

Filling the foreign player slots
Between my own contacts and the club’s agent interactions, several more players got on my radar this week. My Sports Director and I had a bit of a disagreement on the issue of player height in one respect, but nothing of any real consequence. We continue to generally agree on player assessments

It’s really interesting to get to understand the dynamics of things and how the various considerations come into play. I’ve previously talked about how the signing process has similarities to college recruiting, without the NCAA rules and admissions restrictions. While it’s true there aren’t grades and test scores to worry about, there are financial and other considerations.

For example, one of the things I learned this week was that in Sweden the tax rate for those who are 25 years old and above is twice that of younger people. That obviously has budget implications.

How the agents fit into the process is also interesting. One agency seems to be responsible for most of the Americans on our list. This creates a funky dynamic where we have to think about how the agent might be looking to play things across multiple clients – for example if we’re considering offers for multiple of that agent’s players in one position.

Related to that, we had a situation come up where a player package deal was indicated to us as a potential worth considering. An agent informed us of a pair of former US college players who want to play together professionally. Each of them has offers separately, but we were told that we might be able to get them at something of a discount (from what they would command if signed individually) if we signed both together. One of them is someone for whom we’d already put in an offer. The other is someone we’ve only just been told about. Individually, the second player is one we might have put behind a couple of others in her position, but being part of a package deal – especially in that combination of positions – shifts things a bit.

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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.

    3 replies to "Coaching Log – Jun 26, 2015"

    • Judyth Heise

      This definitely calls me to take charge but not knowing yet how in what way. I coached volleyball for the past two years in our local community as a volunteer and took our last team through the tournaments victorious . While in my time in the USAF, I played for my squadron’s team for 6 years and after I got out and continued to work for the AF as a Fed, I coached military squadron’s team, of which the squadron had a loosing streak since 1976 (my birth year), and I had the opportunity to take us to a 2nd place with a four manned team after losing four team members to work related issues. The other team was fully equipped, and we played with four team members only at the end. Non the less, we stood by our grounds and fought through and more importantly had fun. I’ll never forget that day. Almost had the victory as well, but can’t win them all. Second place in all Kirtland AFB, NM vs active duty, civilian, contractors, basically any one who decided to confront us. So, that wasn’t bad at all… We gave it all we could. It was awesome!

    • grutzbo

      This reminded me of advice about how to be a successful College Baseball Coach: “Recruiting is like shaving. If you don’t do it every day, pretty soon you will look like a Bum” Good luck and treasure the time you get to actually spend on the court!!

      • John Forman

        Thanks. Believe it or not, though, I don’t mind working on the off-court stuff. One of the things I enjoyed about NCAA coaching was the varied aspect of it – team coaching, individuals and small group work, recruiting, program development, etc. The difference between college and the pros is that the season is twice as long and recruiting isn’t as continuous.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.