Once when I coached in Sweden a reporter asked me a question after a match. He wanted to know if I thought we were repeating the pattern of the prior match.
As I reported in my Coaching Log at the time, in the prior match we went up 2-0 fairly comfortably, had late leads in both the 3rd and 4th sets, but ultimately lost. To my mind, a big reason for that was playing not to lose rather than continuing to play to win. In this following match we again won the first two sets fairly comfortably. Then they blew us out in the 3rd and we had to fight to win the 4th, pulling away late.
I told the reporter that I did wonder to myself at one point whether I should worry about a repeat performance. I’d rejected that idea as soon as it appeared in my head, though.
The third set was once of those fluky things that happens in volleyball sometimes. Could be a lack of focus. Could be the other team gets a motivational boost coming out of the 10 minute break. Who knows?
The fourth set was nip and tuck most of the way. We didn’t have a late lead that we conceded, as happened in the prior match. In fact, looking at where we were in the rotation, I was confident. We were going to win once we got our nose ahead late.
So no. At that time I wasn’t worried that we were replaying the script from the prior match. Were there things we needed to iron out in that 3rd set? For sure. But they were just part of the overall developmental process. It was is still early in the season with a fairly young team.
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