On the Volleyball Coaching Wizards blog I published a post a while back that shared how little presence volleyball has on Amazon. In it I talked about how Volleyball doesn’t even have it’s own entry under the Sports & Outdoors category. Instead, it’s listed under the sub-category of Other Team Sports.
At that writing Amazon showed 272,756 books in Sports & Outdoors. Of those, 9370 were in the Other Team Sports category. Drill down and it turns out there were 526 books in the Volleyball sub-sub-category. That’s better than twice what Rodeos had (257), but somehow that sport gets a listing under the main category!
By the way, the other Other Team Sports along with volleyball were Cricket, Lacrosse, Rugby, and Track & Field. Aside from Lacrosse (only 236), the other sports all had several times as many books in Amazon as did volleyball.
Best seller isn’t even volleyball!
The fact that it couldn’t get its own individual listing under Sports & Outdoors suggests volleyball book sales weren’t very strong. Further evidence for this came from the fact that the top two best selling books under Volleyball weren’t even volleyball books!
As I looked at the top 20 I saw:
- 4 mental training books (2 of which aren’t volleyball-linked at all)
- 2 titles related to high school rules for 2016-17
- A drill book
- A work of fiction (looks like a romance)
- An NCAA volleyball history (described as a coffee table book)
- A how-to-play book
- A book on understanding rotations and overlap
- Misty May’s biography
- A skill book
The rest, except one, were broadly in the category of “how to coach”. That remaining one was Thinking Volleyball, by Mike Hebert. So we have a category full of what can basically be described as technical books.
Compare that to basketball, where there’s a bunch of biography and story type titles. Aside from a handful of mental/psychological books, which really aren’t basketball-specific, you have next to nothing in the way of technical offerings. No drill books or how-to-coach titles there. No skill books and no how-to-play offerings. The focus instead is on personalities and their stories.
The same is true for baseball, football, hockey, and soccer. Lots of people and stories, but not much in the way of technical type titles.
We need people and stories
The only volleyball coach biography type books I can think of are the ones Mike Hebert wrote, and the first couple aren’t in print anymore. Sinjin Smith wrote Kings of the Beach, which is an interesting history of beach volleyball, but that’s going back many years. There are Karch Kiraly books, but they are dated too.
Volleyball has interesting people, and it has great stories. We just need to share them with the world. This will help people connect more deeply with the game as something other than participants.
Think about coverage of the Olympics. We are bombarded with personal interest stories about the athletes, and sometimes the coaches too. Why? Because the broadcasters know we are more likely to watch if we care about the people involved.
The FIVB posted an article which looks back on the 1996 Olympics, specifically the first beach volleyball competition. It focuses a lot, with quotes from Mark Lebedew, on the rivalry between beach legends Sinjin and Karch. Although their head-to-head match during those Games wasn’t for a medal, it garnered a ton of interest because of the protagonists. Two big names in the sport were on opposite sides of a philosophical divide. It was a great story, which created huge drama.
Volleyball needs to market its people if it wants spectators to engage with the sport and keep coming back for more.
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