This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for the 2021-22 season for the Medaille College men.

This was a non-competition week. Just training!

Rankings of opponents to-date

I mentioned in my first entry of the season that St. John Fisher ranked #11 in the pre-season poll, and that Nazareth received votes. I also noted that Nazareth beat Juniata, who’d started the year at #12. In the most recent poll, Fisher jumped up to #9, with Naz entering the Top 15 at #13 and Juniata sliding to #15.

In our second weekend of play we faced Lancaster Bible – and took a set off them. They were on the outside looking in for the preseason Top 15. That remained the case in the latest poll, but their vote count increased from 12 to 21.

At this point we don’t have any other teams on the schedule who are ranked or currently receiving votes.

More assistant coach help

I mentioned in my last entry picking up a new assistant who came to the tournament with us. Last week I added another to bring the number of paid assistants up to 3 (I also have a female assistant, but she’s a new mom whose availability is limited). The new one is someone who’s played a lot of volleyball over the years, but doesn’t have all that much experience. He has done a lot of learning about strength & conditioning, though, which is potentially useful.

There’s also a new volunteer assistant. He was our setter last season. I have him a couple days a week, mainly to be a second set of hands for game play.

Monday practice

Only had 7 guys and wanted to go with a relatively low intensity session coming off the tournament. After some short court to warm up, I had the guys do a bit of serving. Then we played a 3 v 3 game with the setter always on the receiving side. I put markers about 8 feet from the end line and told the guys they could only get kills on balls hit behind them. Think of it as practicing hitting deep in a game play structure rather than in hitting lines. We finished up with 4 v 4 with an assistant jumping in. It was back row attacks only, unless they received a free ball from the other team.

Tuesday practice

I’d planned on making this a heavy session as I’d have two assistants available to play. Then I found out I was going to be missing a couple guys, bringing our count down to 6. That changed things, though having a second setter was definitely useful. Most of the session was more 4 v 4 the deep hitting play, with a wash element added. We also, though, played a game on a narrow court (about 70%). I required it to be 2-up/2-back to ensure a high frequency of swings against a double block. Good for the hitters to work against, and for everyone else to get practice covering.

Wednesday practice

We actually had all our eligible players at practice for the first time this season! We also had all 3 of our paid assistants, so it was a full gym. After doing some back row Winners 3s to warm-up, I moved us on to Flip-Switch. Since we had the numbers, we did it 2-sided. Normally, I run everyone through it, but this time I just had our primary passers involved. From there we did a 4 v 4 back row attacking exercise because I wanted to work on tempo consistency.

From there I moved us along to a 5 v 6 activity to work on the tempo of our MB and OH sets. The 4 side had the setter, an OH, a libero, and a MB – plus one of the assistants as an added defender. They received serve from the 6. If we didn’t get a transition opportunity for the 6 side (which included an assistant as an attacker), we gave the 6 side a free ball. Everything was going well until our setter came down on one of the guys during a rally. :-/


We started off with Media Day. Since we’d been missing guys and coaches, this was something I pushed off until we could get nearly everyone together. Not that everyone could make it at this time either, but at least it was most of us.

Our setter gave it a go, but ended up having to spend much of the session doing rehab stuff in the Training Room. As a result, we ended up doing a variety of stuff that didn’t involve him. Most of the focus was game play with different focal points and structures. We also spent a bit of time working on putting up a triple block. It’s probably not something we’ll do a lot of this season, but there may be situations where we want to pull it out of the toolbox.


Our session started with the guys running 3 volleyball court suicides. It was something that must have been to do with a team breach internally. I was just told ahead of time that it was coming.

Beyond that, it was a good practice. Our setter’s ankle was much better. He did cut things off about 20 minutes early to work with the trainer, but while he was on-court he looked unhindered. Since we had all 9 guys, plus 2 assistants available to jump in as well, I make it a fully game oriented session. It featured a series of 12-point contests until the setter stepped out. We alternated between middles in playing front row and them either out or in the back row to given them a break. I also mixed players around to create different pairings and situations.

The final game was a straight 25-pointer. They played 2-up/3-back for that one.

For the first time I recorded practice using our fixed mounted VolleyMetrics camera. We also took serve receive stats.

Coming up

We have a match on Tuesday in the Buffalo area. That’s it aside from training, though.

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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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