I know, I know. You probably would rather put 2020 totally behind you and focus on what we all hope will be a significantly better 2021 – eventually.

Travel & Education

Definitely no travel to report for 2020. The major educational venture for me for the year was attending the AVCA Virtual Convention. You can see my daily reports for that starting here, including the daily live streams I did on Facebook each night of the event.

Of course, I also furthered my education in other ways. While not about volleyball, Leading by Alex Ferguson and Messy by Tim Harford were both worthwhile reads. I also took part in the initial “Tech Academy” presented by USA Volleyball (and will attend the next one coming up). I also started learning DataVolley, with some help from Jeff Liu.

New content ventures

Perhaps my biggest venture of the year was the Coaching Conversation series. I started that in March as coaches were losing seasons due to shutdowns. There were over 50 sessions covering a wide array of topics, with a whole bunch of interesting guests by the time the series ended. I had a ton of positive feedback on it, which was great to see. Clearly, it filled a need at that point in time.

Of course, that series has now led into the Coaching Conversations Podcast. I’m still finding my feet with that a bit. Hopefully, it can eventually have a similar kind of impact to what the original series had.

I also did my first bit of academic research in volleyball in 2020. The most advanced of that – in terms of progress toward publication – is a paper on home advantage. A spin off on that, is a second potential paper about ball-handling errors, which I mentioned here. And both those papers were actually ones that came out of talking over some research on big game-over-game point differential reversals. Somewhat parallel to that is a separate line of research looking at the statistics that correlate to league performance. Here’s hoping that 2021 brings some journal publications!

New coaching gig

One of the big news items of the year was me taking the Head Men’s and Women’s Volleyball Coach position at Medaille College. As I’ve been documenting in my coaching log entries for both the men and women, so far I haven’t had much opportunity to actually coach. I’m looking forward to that changing in the new year!

Site traffic

Traffic to this site was definitely a reflection of the what coaches were going through. It was above 2019 levels for all of the first half of the year except April we the influence of shutdowns was obvious. Readership in May and June, though, were the highest ever for those months. Clearly, folks still had a yearning to learn.

The real impact of COVID on the volleyball coaching community shows up in the numbers for the second half of the year. Page views compared to the year before were down about 25% in July and almost 40% in August! And every month thereafter was below it’s 2019 levels of readership.

The end result is that page views in 2020 were basically at the same 275k level as they were for 2019. Likewise for visitors at over 130k.

Of course, the vast majority of readers came from the USA, though by a notably smaller margin. Canada, Australia, and the UK are all once more in the top 5. Interestingly, readership from the Philippines more than doubled over 2019. India, Germany, Netherlands, and Italy remained in the top 10, but Malaysia both dropped out in favor of Spain.

Here are the most viewed pages in the last year.

  1. How to teach the overhand serve to volleyball beginners
  2. Volleyball Set Diagram
  3. Volleyball games for training and fun
  4. Putting together a starting line-up
  5. Volleyball Try-Out Drill Ideas
  6. Pin hitter in volleyball – what is it?
  7. Scoring Serving and Passing Effectiveness
  8. Setting up your starting rotation: 5-1
  9. The qualities of a good team captain
  10. Whose ball? Seam responsibilities

And here are the most read new posts from 2020.

  1. The mile run for volleyball players
  2. Volleyball practice plan template
  3. Thoughts on youth volleyball structures
  4. Making practices harder than games
  5. Doing back row attacking right
More Wizards

After a lengthy hiatus, some new Volleyball Coaching Wizards interviews finally got recorded in 2020. Mostly, that was thanks to Lauren Bertolacci getting the Wizard Women project up and running with a few participants. Mick Haley also got a start on what we’re calling the Pioneers project. Still a lot to do in both, though.

Other platforms

It’s definitely worth noting that I expanded my use of other platforms in 2020. After not really using either YouTube or Facebook videos previously, they were both meaningful factors in my content distribution last year. To give you a sense of the change, YouTube says my channel got a bit over an hour of viewership in 2019. For 2020 that number was well above 500. Subscribers also rose by more than 100.

For Facebook, the MasterCoaches Weekly Buzz shows represent the single biggest block of viewership. Those are also on my YouTube page, but there the Coaching Conversations are a bigger factor. Only a few Conversations went out via FB, plus my AVCA Convention live streams.

Looking ahead to 2021

As I noted above, a big thing I’m looking forward to in 2021 is getting to be able to coach in a meaningful way again. There remains a lot of uncertainty at this point about what scheduling will look like for our second term at Medaille, so we’ll see what it ends up looking like. And I’m recruiting and scheduling for Fall ’21 as if it will be a normal season for the women. Hopefully, that turns out to be the case.

As always, I have a number of different ideas for things I’d like to accomplish in the content space this year. Top of that list is getting an academic publication under my belt based on the research mentioned above. I also really want to get another book published. In what context, though, I’m not sure.

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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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