One of our responsibilities as volleyball coaches is to encourage and nourish the development of the next generation. For some of us that involves getting out and doing coaching education. Think things like running coaching clinics in our areas or mentoring younger coaches. In my case, and others, it includes things like blogging and developing educational material. For all of us, though, it starts closer to home with our players.
First and foremost, each and every one of us needs to be aware at all times that we are role models for the potential future volleyball coaches among those athletes on our teams. This is something easy to forgot in the heat of battle, so to speak. The question we need to always be asking ourselves, though, is whether we are acting and presenting ourselves in a way we would like to see emulated by those of our players who eventually do go on to be coaches in their own right.
Develop Thinking Players
I personally think we should be developing players who can think and problem solve on the court. These types of players understand what we’re trying to accomplish. As a result, they can train and play with intention and purpose. They aren’t just acting mechanically by doing what they’re told. They also can find solutions to challenges in the heat of battle when the coach has little direct influence. Thinking, problem-solving players also have the foundation for going on to become coaches in their own right some day.
We should always be on the lookout for players with the potential to become good coaches. That means watching how they act and listening to what they say beyond just in terms of how it relates to their on-court performance or interaction with teammates. We need to look for the players who see the big picture, who understand what they are trying to do on the court, and who are students of the game. Leadership qualities are good too, but that doesn’t mean just team captains.
Every chance we get we need to put prospective future volleyball coaches in a position to work with younger players. Within a team that could be something as simple as having a senior player working with a rookie. More externally focused, it means getting them involved in coaching at the youth club level, or in camps, or at player clinics. This isn’t just a good way to help develop future coaches either. Just about any player can benefit from being a teacher for a while.
As coaches, the future of our sport is in our hands. It is up to us to keep it moving forward – not just by learning and developing in the present, but by preparing those who come after us to do the same. This is especially the case where volleyball is still a lower tier sport and very developmental, but it applies across the board.
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