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

Over the weekend all but one of the players took part in a beach volleyball focused trip. I did not attend, but they got a couple of sessions of coaching by the England Juniors beach coach. The main purpose was one of team bonding, and the reports suggest mixed results there. I won’t get the full story (or as much as I want/need to know, anyway) until probably Wednesday when the team captain returns from a conference. The suggestion, however, is that we may have some toughness issues and a lack of discipline. The captain suggested addressing the issue of fitness, which has been on my to-do list already.

From the beach coach I got a separate report in terms of stuff she went over with them on the court. Several elements were things I have either already started to address (footwork patterns) or had noted from last week’s work to bring up (playing with intention). She made similar observations about some of their serving as I did while creating a video for them from footage taken in Thursday’s session.

This session was 90 minutes in the small training gym. Top of my list of things to do in the session was to assess the setters and middles in terms of running quicks. I knew going it that the strongest MB could do it, but the rest was an open question. Last year the quick never developed for a number of reasons. This year I want to prioritize it if possible.

This was the plan going in:

Blocking footwork
Volley tennis
Serving warm-up and target serving
Backrow Hitting lines
Split group: Quick hitting / OH pass & hit
Player winners

I actually managed to get through all of those things as planned and more or less as anticipated. This was the first time they’ve done volley tennis and player winners. They went pretty well.

In the latter case I ran parallel games with 7 players on each half court. About halfway I had the top three players from one court swap with the bottom three from the other. This is something I’m going to keep tabs on over time to see what kind of evolution there is in who ends up on the “winners” court.

I did quite a bit of technical coaching in this session. First it was in the serving warm-up. I prepared a video of some of the serving done in the prior session to highlight the good mechanics, and posted that for them to watch. Most of them had before training, so I was able to key them on certain training points. There is starting to be progress already, though a couple players need sorting out.

The other major technical work was in the quick hitting drill. Both setters and hitters needed some direction. I was a bit disappointed in the setting side of things as one of the players I’ve been looking at as either a starter for the first team, or part of a 6-2 system was not one of the better performers. One of my projected second team setters actually did well.

I talked with the team afterwards about having intention when playing the ball, as there was a lot of “panic” type play in the 6 v 6 last session. I also talked about slowing the game down by taking the ball lower, which is something I know got discussed over the weekend. I finished up talking about fitness and getting the players to submit ideas for modifying the warm-up sequence.

I also warned the team that I will be making things harder – both mentally and physically – moving forward.

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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.

    2 replies to "Coaching Log – Sep 29, 2014"

    • Kelly Daniels

      I was reading your weekly newsletter and you stated, “Commitment issues were a major problem with that group last year” in regard to the men’s program. I bet all your female subscribers will say the same thing about men in general! hahahahaha
      On the real, my thing has always been to establish commitment from the beginning. If one is not committed to the program, don’t waste my time or the team’s. You’d for sure have growing pains when you establish this philosophy, but those who want to commit to your university program will know that commitment is paramount. You will then only get committed athletes. The women on the other hand seem to have gotten the message that you are looking for committed athletes. Be blunt with the men in what you are expecting. They’ll understand and commit or move on.

      Best of Luck!!!

      • John Forman

        Hi Kelly – I’m sure you’re right! :-))

        Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a Catch-22 with the guys. We need the numbers to be able to field the teams so we don’t want to push too hard and end up not having enough bodies. That said, the captains last night made clear the expectations now that the roster has mainly settled out and all the guys turned up for 7:30AM training this morning. Not bad after finishing training the night before at 10:00PM. Of course we then found out our training slot had been moved to 7-8 from 7:30-9, but that’s an entirely different issue all together.

        Actually, it should be noted that I tightened up the commitment side of things with the women this year. Last year a player could miss training as long as they let the captain know before a certain time on the day of practice. That caused me all kinds of headaches, though, so this year I’ve said a week’s advance notice is required in the case of non-emergency absences (same deal for the guys) to allow me to do some proper forward planning.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.