This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for 2014-15.

The team played an away match on Wednesday against what my sources have suggested is one of the top teams in the league this year. I did not go on the trip (more on that later). The team was also missing it’s captain and another prospective starter, and one of its other key players only arrived in time to play the third set due to travel troubles returning from a wedding abroad. That mean two B team players were starters. Not surprising, the result wasn’t good. Aside from being over-matched, the feedback I got was that the team played poorly and didn’t handle the adversity well (lack of talking, heads down, etc.).

It was suggested to me that only 7 players would be attending training for various reasons, so I agreed to allow one of the club captains run the training session based on some stuff they had done in the guys training that morning. He’s keen to coach, so I figured it would be an opportunity for me to provide him some guidance in a situation where there wasn’t going to be a lot of opportunity to work on a huge amount of stuff. As it turns out, there were 9 players.

Said captain ran some drills at the start which focused on low movement – catching dropped balls, chasing down balls rolled along the ground. They were good in terms of intensity and movement, but I would have preferred something that actually involved playing the ball.

He also ran a couple of defensively oriented drills with the coach playing balls to either 1 or 2 players (basically a coach-on-2 in the second case). The 1-player drill was badly conceived on a couple of levels (lots of players standing around, coach getting more reps than anyone, players rewarded for essentially bad digs), but the 2-player one had some good features.

He also did what he called “popcorn” that involved players on the ground with him behind them bouncing the ball off the ground. They had to get up, find the ball, and play out a rally with the team on the other side (losers get the next bounced ball). I’m not a big fan of the blind play aspect. Not very realistic. I’d have just gone with the Belly Drill as something conceptually similar.

The rest of training featured a serving & passing drill and a 4s variation of winners.

Intensity-wise, it was a good session. I just would have adjusted some things to give the players more ball contacts, which is the feedback I gave the captain.

Getting back to my not going to the Wednesday away match, I’ve had to take a hard look at my coaching commitments. Completing my PhD dissertation in my defined time frame (submission in December/January) is my first priority and the time left to get that done is rapidly shrinking. It may require me to miss more matches and/or reduce the number of trainings I attend. On the plus side, we only have home matches over the next couple of weeks.

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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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