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Volleyball Coaching Wizards now open!

Volleyball Coaching Wizards banner

I’ve mentioned Volleyball Coaching Wizards a number of times over the last couple months. If you missed it, basically it’s a project to interview the world’s great volleyball coaches – at all levels. I teamed up with Mark Lebedew of At Home on the Court (he coaches a pro team in Poland). We have a list of over 300 coaches taken from Hall of Fame lists and/or recommended to us. The work is still in the very early stages. A bunch of interviews with some really high profile and very successful coaches are already done. Numerous others are committed for the future.

We opened up access to the Wizards recordings publicly, which mean full access to each interview. They generally run 1.5 to 2 hours, and in them we talk about things like:

  • Coaching philosophy and how it’s changed
  • Team building
  • Training and season planning
  • Line-up decision and playing time
  • Managing expectations
  • Career development
  • and much more.

While Mark and I look to touch on basically the same basic coaching topics, each interview is different. They reflect the variety of coaching levels and circumstances, backgrounds and development paths, and personal philosophies and styles of each of these Wizards. The process of doing the recordings has been great, and what we’re hearing is really interesting – especially the common elements across coaches from very different experiences and backgrounds.

What’s really been awesome to hear from these coaches we’re speaking with is how great they think the project is and how it will contribute to volleyball coaching knowledge. They are as excited to listen to their peers as the rest of us!

Click here to learn more, see who we’ve already interviewed, and find out how to get access.


Volleyball Coaching Wizards developments

After an initial flurry of activity and attention, the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project has settled down into a calmer state of affairs. Partly that’s because I’ve been in heavy crunch mode with my PhD thesis development and my partner Mark has been involved in the German championships. While my own work continues for at least a little longer, Mark is now done for the season (though he’s now on the job market). That means he can actually start doing some stuff! 🙂

We have a lengthy list of coaches who are prospective Wizards thanks to research and recommendations. I’ve begun reaching out to a number of them with invitations to take part and the response has been very positive. The guys at The Art said “No” at first (though John Dunning individually said “yes”), presumably because they thought of Wizards as being a competitor to their own stuff. I don’t see it that way. If anything, I see it as potentially supportive, and told them so. They said they’d reconsider.

The list of those who have committed is at about 25 now. Most of them are AVCA Hall of Famers. You can see the full list here. So far the international/professional contingent is limited, but now that Mark is freed up I expect that to grown rapidly in the days and weeks to come. I personally will also be turning more attention to the high school and Juniors area, which are also under represented at this stage.

I expect us to start doing interviews in a matter of a couple of weeks. We just need to iron out a couple of things. Announcements will be forthcoming, so keep an eye out for updates on the Volleyball Coaching Wizards blog, the Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Volleyball Coaching Wizards project update

In case you haven’t been following the Volleyball Coaching Wizards blog, the Facebook page, or the Twitter feed (why not!?) there have been a number of very positive developments since I mentioned the project two weeks ago. I think we’re now up to somewhere around 300 top notch coaches on our list of nominees. Many of them are there on the basis of being in the AVCA Hall of Fame and/or on on the lists of the winningest coaches in US collegiate and high school volleyball. The remainder, though, have come by way of recommendations from coaches all over the world.

And they continue to come in! As far as I’m concerned, we’ve only just scratch the surface in many ways – especially outside the US.

The process of inviting the nominated Wizard coaches to be a part of the project has gotten underway. As of this writing, 19 have already agreed to be interviewed. That includes some of the most noteworthy names in the game, including 11 AVCA Hall of Famers. It’ll be a couple weeks before we can start lining up the interviews (my partner, Mark Lebedew, is in the middle of the German championship finals series). The excitement is building, though. The response to the project has been really positive!

Definitely make sure to stay up-to-date. Things are likely to start moving very quickly in the weeks ahead.

Best volleyball coaches – nominations wanted

As some readers are aware, roughly in parallel with my volleyball coaching I’ve had a career in the financial markets. My coaching in England the last three years has been on the back of working on a PhD in Behavioral Finance, which can be thought of as combining financial markets with psychology. I actually authored a book on trading that was published back in 2006.

In that arena there is a series of books by a gentleman named Jack Schwager, the first of which is titled Market Wizards. They comprise a collection of interviews with some of the world’s elite traders. These books are widely considered among the best, most educational and inspiration ever published in financial market circles. (As and aside, I actually interviewed Schwager not long after the first book came out.)

I’m not entirely sure what triggered it, but some combination of thoughts and ideas sparked a fusion in my head a couple weeks ago. It occurred to me that a similar sort of book would be really awesome from a volleyball coaching perspective.

Thus was Volleyball Coaching Wizards born.

Only, my partner Mark Lebedew and I will be taking things to a higher level. The conceptual framework of interviewing the best of the best remains. We’re just going to build on the original in a couple of ways.

First, we’re not just going the book route. These days the internet and audio/video delivery offer much greater opportunity for distribution than Schwager had when he published his first Wizards book. The specific plan is still a work in progress, but for us a book (probably multiple books) is only one of the ways we plan on sharing content from the interviews we do. We also want to use audio and video, and every other available platform, to be able to reach volleyball coaches everywhere.

Second, we’re going deeper. There are great volleyball coaches at all level of the sport and all over the world. Certainly, we’ll be looking to interview the big names in coaching – international and elite collegiate coaches everyone knows. We also, though, want to interview coaches much less well-known but who are still great coaches in their own right.

I’ve already been in touch with a number of my contacts around the world about the project and the response has uniformly been extremely positive. I think this is something that has the potential to be really special.

All of this means Volleyball Coaching Wizards is likely to be a major undertaking, though. I can easily see us doing more than 100 interviews just in the initial phase. I would expect to add additional interviews over time as new coaches distinguish themselves.

We’d appreciate your help

At this early stage you can help us out big time by bringing great coaches you know of to our attention. In particular, we want to hear about lower profile coaches. It’s easy enough to pick out the the likes of great international coaches based on medals won, top US collegiate coaches based on wins and being in the AVCA Hall of Fame, etc. To an extent, the same is true for US high school coaches. What about Juniors coaches, though? Or university, high school, and club coaches outside the US? Those are the folks we most need the help identifying.

The best way to submit a great coach for potential inclusion is by filling out the nomination form.

You can also help by spreading the world. The more folks we have providing Wizard nominations, the better the pool of candidates will be. So like the Facebook page, follow the Twitter feed, send your friends and coaching colleagues to VolleyballCoachingWizards.com, and whatever else you can think of to get people connected to the project. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

And definitely feel free to share your thoughts, suggestions, ideas, etc. about the project in general with us.

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