I came across this question in a coaching group:

Do any of you all think that volleyball coaches overthink everything? From armswing to team bonding….we are just all over the place.

I want to tackle this question in two ways.

We actually don’t think enough

My first suggestion is that we actually don’t think enough, especially about certain things. There is A LOT to good coaching. From the college level, this post gives you an idea of all the off-the-court things the coaching staff deals with. That’s pretty much the peak of coach involvement in organizational issues. High school coaches definitely have some, but generally not quite as much. Club coaches tend to have even less.

But let’s put the stuff that doesn’t impact the current team’s performance and development aside.

I wrote previously about the two biggest on-court jobs of a coach being line-up selection and training prioritization. And that’s true. But there are all kinds of pieces to that, and it’s also just part of the equation. One of the things you come to understand as you develop is a coach is how much you don’t know yet – how many things you haven’t been paying attention to in your work.

Now, to be fair, there are lots of things we just can’t focus on. We don’t have the time or the resources to do it all, so we have to prioritize. That brings up my second way of looking at this.

We think too much about the wrong things

It is very easy to go down certain rabbit holes in our thinking. I’m talking about stuff that won’t have a major impact. For many teams, stats is a prime area. Stats can be extremely useful in a lot of respects, but there’s a limit. At a certain stage, you’re too deep in the minutiae to be looking at things that influence outcomes. Where that line falls depends on your level of play.

It might be very useful for a pro team to know the set distribution of the other team in Rotation 1 when the front row OH passes the ball. That’s likely a lot less useful for your average high school or club team, though. At that level 1) you may not even be able to do anything with that information, and 2) other things probably have much greater influence on outcomes.

Looking elsewhere, it’s a question of time and energy used relative to the gain achieved. I see coaches using large amounts of their focus on technical or tactical changes that might make a player or team 1% better, when they could be focusing on changes that will get a 25% improvement. Or spending all their time thinking about technical and tactical stuff and leaving out the mental part.

Just a little something to get you thinking even more. LOL

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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.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.