There’s a blog post and video by a long-time soccer coach in which he talks about what it takes to truly excel in sports – or really just about any worthwhile endeavor. You can watch the video below, or read the post (largely the same content) at the blog here.

I like the bit about Anson Dorrance and Mia Hamm – how it’s not about what an athlete does when everyone is watching, but what they do when nobody is watching. For me, though, in the context of volleyball coaching I think the real thrust is that of expectations and acceptance.

We cannot let players coast. To do so is a disservice to them and to the team. Unfortunately, it is always easier to coach to the median. That means we focus our efforts on the large group of players who are in the middle. We also maybe spend a bit of extra time with those who are struggling to strengthen the weakest link. However, we cannot neglect our strongest players. We need to find ways to keep them progressing as well. That means we do not just push them ourselves. We also to instill in them the willingness and desire to push themselves.

That’s the willingness to suffer to achieve one’s goals (where suffering is often physical, but also comes in other forms such as giving up personal for group objectives, having to give up social time, etc.). It’s not something which is only relevant to those who seek to be elite players either. Nor does it only relate to individuals as it can apply to teams as well. It’s up to us coaches to instill that mentality, or to weed out those who don’t value things enough to suffer in some way for them – at least when working in the context of a competitive development environment.

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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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