It’s that time of year again! Time to look back on the happenings of last year, which saw it’s 10th anniversary, and and to give some thought to what might be ahead for the new one. So here goes!
By the way, this post’s featured image is something created by DALLE via ChatGPT. For some reason, it always wants to put hats on coaches heads. Maybe they’re meant to be beach coaches.
Interestingly, just like in 2022, a job change tops the list of big events for me in 2023. As I announced in May, I left my position as Assistant Coach at Radford University to become the Strategic Manager for Talent at Volleyball England. In that role I oversee all of the national team programs. I am also the Performance Director for Indoor (there are separate ones for Beach and Sitting). While I started the position at the end of May, a slow visa process didn’t see me actually move back to England until September.
Most of my work in the position in 2023 was developing a new 5-year plan for the Talent programs. I talked with people around the country. Met and shared my thoughts with the Talent Working Group, and then with the Volleyball for Life Subgroup (the former sits under the latter). Then, finally, near the end of October I presented to the Volleyball England Board. While the planning work in a strategic role never really ends, that presentation marked the point at which my team and I could start focusing more on implementation. And there’s a lot of implementing to do! I’ll be a busy boy on that front this year.
Travel & Education
The only real travel I did in 2023 that wasn’t linked to moving to England was my trip over there in April to attend Cup Finals weekend. And prior to that, to hang out in the gym with a coaching friend who was preparing his team to play in one of the finals. It also ended up being when I got offered the Volleyball England job, but that was never my purpose for going.
I did spend some time over the Summer going through content on USA Volleyball’s new coaching education system (well, new compared to the old CAP system). That’s something I really need to get back to, as it kind of slipped away with the England move pending.
Probably the biggest educational development for me last year was starting to listen to audio books. Coach to Coach was the first. I listened to that while walking on campus at Radford. I’ve since also listened to Pep Guardiola: The Evolution, The Tough Stuff by Cody Royle, and Start with Why by Simon Sinek.
Of course, I’ve kept reading as well. The Set Point – Securing the future of volleyball, produced by the FIVB, was an interesting look at the business side of the game. How We Learn to Move by Rob Gray and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team are on the list as well.
There were 65 new posts to the blog in 2023, including the 1500th back in August. I thought that would represent a rise over 2022, but it didn’t. Last year was actually my least active blogging year so far. I know I didn’t post as much while I was at Radford because of constraints I was under (time and otherwise).
Blogging wasn’t the only thing I was developing content for, of course. I also completed publication of the Wizard Women book I was working on. Over the Summer I got serious about writing The Perfect Drill, which I’ve had in mind for a while. It took longer than planned, but I finally finished that right around Christmas. All the planning work I was doing for Volleyball England (much of which had content elements) cut in to my opportunities to develop more stuff, though, especially of a more course-oriented nature.
I did a little bit of work in the academic research space, but it wasn’t anything that worked toward actual publication. What I managed to accomplish was to review a paper submitted for journal publication, however. The request was from a pretty high level journal, and was quite a surprise.
The big milestone for the blog was reaching the 2.5 million lifetime page views mark. That was hit in September.
And a few records fell during the year as well. August became the first month to register over than 60,000 page views, and even September’s tally came in higher than for any month in 2022. In early September the site’s 1-day readership record fell, with the nearly 2900 page views at last edging out the mark set back in 2016. Interestingly, unlike the former peak that was driven by one post getting 2300 views, this time no single post had more than 250.
By late November, the site had already surpassed the total readership from 2022. It wasn’t a pattern of consistently better performance, however. Yes, January, February, April, July, and August saw readership significantly higher than the year before. March, May, and November we actually down from 2022, though. All together, however, it works out to rise in readership of about 8% year-over-year.
Here’s the 2023 geographic distribution. Not overly surprisingly, it’s nearly identical to 2022. The Philippines swapped places with the UK, and France came in to replace China in 9th, but that it for differences.
These are last year’s most viewed posts.
- Volleyball Try-Out Drill Ideas
- Volleyball Set Diagram
- How to teach the overhand serve to volleyball beginners
- Whose ball? Seam responsibilities
- Putting together a starting line-up
- Pin hitter in volleyball – what is it?
- Volleyball hitter coverage strategy
- Ice-breaking and bonding games
- Favorite drills/games to practice serve receive?
- What does out of system mean in volleyball?
Looking ahead to the new year
Launching The Perfect Drill is the new year’s first priority. The ebook version is all set, but I need to go through proofing for the print version before that one can go up in stores. I’ll need to make a decision on whether to produce an audio version.
Video-based content – be it course or single seminar in nature – is on my mind a lot right now. There are things I want to develop in my England role to facilitate coach development. Some of that may crossover to my work here, but some won’t.
Back over the Summer I started work on the next book I have in the queue to put out. Not surprisingly, it stalled out given everything that’s happened since. It’s going to be on volleyball recruitment. I’ve wanted to do an update to one I published as a joint project back in 2011, but never seemed to do it. The timing is good now because I need to do some work on helping English kids who want to give the US a shot.
I want to get back into research productivity once more. I did a bit more data collection over the holiday break. Now I need to put that to use in a meaningful fashion. In my Volleyball England role I also get a stream of requests to help with research efforts. Those aren’t really for me to be much of an active participant, though.
And now that I’m in England again, travel prospects become quite interesting. I have a couple of trips in mind that would be a combination of connecting with coaching friends and developing relationships for England. There’s also the prospect of a major trip in my England role, but that’s contingent on getting some external support.
Wish me luck!
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