I’m sorry, but I need to let loose about an attitude I see too often.

One day someone commented on a poll we ran for the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project. The poll was to help decide on a book cover design. This person’s snide remark suggested high school coaches couldn’t possibly be considered among the world’s great coaches.

Does the comment reflect a disdain for high school volleyball? Does it make the point that high school volleyball isn’t played many places out side the U.S.? It really doesn’t matter either way. The bottom line is it belittles the value of a certain category of coaches.

I hate that!

I’m not a high school coach. I helped out for a couple seasons at my own high school way back in the day. That’s the extent of my experience in that realm, though.

In other words, I don’t have a personal bias in this.

Higher level does not equal better coaching

I think the attitude in this comment is incredibly narrow-minded. It reminds me of the arrogance I see sometimes among coaches at what is perceived to be a high level. And among those who aspire to get there.

It’s not just professional vs. Juniors, or college vs. high school either. I also see it at the youth club level. Some think coaching the “better” players at the 18s level is significant and important, while coaching the 12s or 14s is not.

Guess what folks. We desperately need good coaches at ALL levels of the sport – not just at the top.

If you aspire to move up the coaching ladder to higher competitive levels, go for it. There is no problem with that. It does not for one minute, however, make you a better coach than someone who through either choice or circumstance stays at a lower level.

You will have a hard time convincing me someone who spent 30 years teaching in both the high school classroom and on the volleyball court is somehow inferior to someone who coached college or professional volleyball just on the basis of level.

In fact, many modern college and professional coaches probably suffer from not teaching in the classroom along the way.

Not just arrogance, but also hero worship

It isn’t enough to criticize those with the arrogance to judge themselves superior because they coach at a higher level, though. They aren’t the only problem. There are plenty of coaches out there who equate someone’s coaching level to how much attention and respect they deserve.

I would much rather talk coaching with a 17-time state high school champion than some second year college coach who got the job because they played at some big program and spent a couple of years punching their ticket as an assistant.

Which one do you think can tell me more about team building and program development and which one probably doesn’t even know what he/she doesn’t know yet?

Experience combined with success must be acknowledged, no matter the level. It is well earned – probably the hard way – and it should be respected.

End of rant, at least for now.

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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.

    1 Response to "Level does not determine coaching value!"

    • Roger Ozima

      I’ve successfully coached nearly every level from juniors 14’s to two-year schools to NAIA. At my current club, I volunteered to coach our short season 14’s from coaching our top 17’s because we were losing those players to other clubs.

      If you are truly a good coach, you can take any team and have success with them (no matter the level).

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