The title of this post is a saying you hear in sports. Like many similar bits of perceived timeless wisdom, however, we can’t take it as a simple truth.

The reason I say that is because of something I wrote about before in terms of putting limits on our players and teams. In it I describe a situation where a coach took this sort of view with respect to running quick sets. The argument was that the team’s passing wasn’t good enough. True as that might have been in the immediate term, it was a problematic point of view. It didn’t give the players any real incentive to get better. If we’re not going to run plays that require better passing, then why do we need to pass better?

In other words, here we had a situation where working on a tactic the team was currently technically incapable of doing (at least with any consistency) provides a motivation and rationale for the team to develop the technical capabilities required.

Obviously, in this sort of situation you have to train the tactic in a way that works around the technical limitation. Maybe you toss to the setter. Or perhaps you run the play off free balls rather than reception passes and/or digs. Essentially, you train the tactic in anticipation of the technical improvements required to use it on a regular basis.

This isn’t license to go crazy, though. It’s one thing to increase the complexity of what you’re trying to do by a notch. It’s a whole other thing to bump it up 5 notches. That’s only going to lead to confusion and frustration (see What percentage of reps should be good).

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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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