Once upon a time I worked with a young fellow assistant coach. He had a good volleyball head. As is to be typical of new, youthful coaches, however, there were times where he needed to be reined in.

One of those situations occurred during a digging drill where we coaches were hitting balls from on boxes*. Our young friend was hammering balls at the players with near maximum swing velocity. He wasn’t the biggest guy in the world, so we’re not talking about ridiculously hard hits. They were still quite aggressive, though. As this was still early in the season (perhaps even preseason), I had to slow him down.

You see, a coach must be able to ratchet things up to the next level as a team progresses. He would limit in his ability to do that if he was already hitting balls near the maximum of his power before we’d even played our first competitive match.

By backing down from his hard swings a bit this young coach could do a couple of things. First, he could save those hits for latter when we really wanted to give the players a big challenge. Second, we could avoid creating confidence issues within the team as they struggled to dig the balls he was hitting (which I talk about here). Thirdly, and perhaps even more importantly, he could keep the players from losing respect for him as may have been the case if they thought he was just out to abuse them or make them look bad.

Just another one of those nuance things which makes for good coaching.

* I don’t recall what kind of drill it was. In those days I worked for a head coach who was very block training oriented. Not that I myself knew much differently at the time.

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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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