Those who get my weekly newsletter know that I sometimes refer to posts by sports psychologist Dan Abrahams. He often provides useful short nuggets. It’s one of his slightly longer entries, though, that I want to address in this post.

Dan provided a list of 10 tips and tricks and philosophies and techniques for players and coaches to consider (and experiment with). I’m not going to list or address them all here, but there are a few I want to speak to.

2. Intelligent practice is (probably) more impactful than lots of practice – train with some specific game objectives in mind, and build the capacity to self-reflect whilst training

I have written before about the need for work in practice to be focused. It’s not enough to just get a whole bunch of reps. See Training must be mindful, not mindless and Do not allow players to go on autopilot, among others, for more on this topic. Mark Lebedew also has a useful post on the subject.

6. Performance outcomes are different to performance processes – place your focus on the processes more so than the outcomes

This is particularly important in the training context. Actually, you can argue that for many types of players (juniors, JV, etc.) everything is a training context, as winning is ultimately much less important than development. See Using process scoring in games for thoughts on how we can get more process focus in our practices.

9. Coaches would do well to help players learn how to collaborate by teaching them to ask each other questions and to be curious about each other’s experiences

I am very much in the camp of not wanting robot players who just do as I say. Player and team autonomy is very important, and something I work on. Yes, of course, I want good decision-making. That’s something you train by working with the players on how they think, though. And how they think collectively is part of that.

I encourage you to give Dan’s full post a read. It covers things from several different angles. You may pick out other things that really resonate in your coaching.

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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.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.