This is the first of what I anticipate to be a series of journal entries. It will cover my work as Indoor Performance Director (IPD) under my broader responsibilities as Strategic Manager for Talent for Volleyball England. My role as IPD is to oversee and provide direction for England’s indoor national teams – from the Seniors down through the age group teams. The latter have mainly been in the U17 and U19 categories, but we’re now thinking of them more in terms of U18 and U20 to line up with CEV age group competitions. We’re also adding U22s, and maybe down the road we’ll add U16s as well.

Since I don’t plan on coaching any of the England teams myself, these posts will be different from the coaching journals I did for 2013-14 Exeter, 2014-15 Exeter, 2015-16 Svedala, 2016-17 MSU, 2017-18 MSU, the 2020-21 Medaille Men, and the 2021-22 Medaille Women and Men. It will probably be more like what I did in my Technical Director role at Charleston Academy. By that I mean it will tend toward broader themes and priorities – including coach supervision and development. Not so much the day-to-day training and match level stuff.

So you can think of this as a program director’s journal. You’ll be able to follow along with the work I’m doing to grow and develop the England national teams. That covers three key areas.

Coach Development

Ultimately, coaches are at the center of a lot of what needs to happen for England to be more competitive in the international arena. Obviously, we need quality coaches leading our national teams. Below that, however, is a whole feeder system. That system is what ultimately will determine our success. The vast majority of player development happens at the club/school level. We can only refine it in the national team gym. So we need a broad base of quality coaches throughout England to feed our pipeline. And there’s more to it than what they do on-court.

Athlete Support

There’s a lot of educational and other support that goes into helping players maximize their potential. Nutrition, strength & conditioning, and mental skills are things that immediately come to mind in this area. For some that includes stuff like help with recruitment to colleges in the US. And because a lot of what we do is athlete-funded, finding ways to help players and their families in that regard is another.

Improved Competitive Opportunities

This category covers two areas. One is international competition. We want to find ways for our teams to play against other national teams more frequently. The other is domestic competition. England has a well-established adult league structure. We at Volleyball England are working on progressively making our top division – the Super League more professional – and generally improving the quality throughout, but that’s mainly incremental rather than wholesale change. The juniors competition are more in an evolutionary state. They’ve gone from a fairly limited thing to a much more inclusive structure in recent years, and continue to be evaluated for improvements moving forward.

If you’re interested in this sort of higher level organizational and longer-term development, follow along!

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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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