During the 2016 women’s college season I witnessed a team having a lengthy post-match talk. It came after they lost a match to my team, Midwestern State. Interestingly, it looked like the assistant coach was the one doing most of the talking, while the head coach stood by fairly quietly.
This wasn’t a ranting, raving type of coach talk, though there was definitely a negative tone. I only heard bits and pieces. They made it sound like the focus was on mindset – at least during that part of the talk. The real standout about the meeting to me was its length. That, and the fact that it took place in the corner of the gym rather than in a locker room.
I’ve seen some ugly, long-winded post-match team talks in my time. Some involved teams I coached. Others involved teams I coached against. In the former, very rarely did I think that sort of meeting was productive (see Does yelling at the team accomplish anything positive?)
In the case of witnessing a team scolding, my reaction comes in two forms. On the one hand, sometimes I feel bad for them. When I coached at Exeter, our men’s team beat a team from Northern Ireland in a playoff match. That coach, who seemed like a nice guy, laid into them for a ridiculously long time afterwards. I felt really bad for them. So did the guys on my team, who wanted to invite the other team out for a post-match pint (they do that in England).
The alternative reaction is more a competitive one. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction to beating a team so badly that they get yelled at afterwards. It’s kind of like targeting a single opposing player to the point they eventually have to be subbed out. It’s a psychological victory above and beyond the one on the scoreboard.
Can’t help but wonder if coaches who yell at their team in public realize this? Or if they’re just trying to embarrass their players.
This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.
Coming off the Cup weekend, I started training with a team talk to give the players a chance to express their thoughts on how things went and to share my own about where we need to get better to be competitive down the line. At this point I feel like the team largely knows what it needs to do to win league matches. The group still needs to keep developing that winning mentality and go into things each time out expecting to win and playing to win, but it’s coming along. The confidence at all levels is progressively building. I’m looking to keep that coming along while working on the aspects of the game we’ll need to be better at to compete with the teams we could see in the post-season.
Hitting with power and confidence remains the big developmental need at this stage, so I spent most of the first hour of training working on that. It started with having all the players doing wall hits from about 7-8 meters from the wall where they could work on proper body mechanics and armswing to generate power and I could coach them individually. That progressed to hitting lines, starting with back row attacks to keep them working on high reach and deep swings. They then moved on to hitting through 4, working to go down the line, and finished working hard cross-court angles.
After some target serving, I had them do some positional digging to work on being able to control harder driven balls as we continue to have issues with overpasses, swinging at the ball, rising up, etc.
I finished things up with 22 v. 22 in hopes to foster the “terminate the first ball” mentality, but there were only a couple successful first-ball kills. There were some good attacks, but I’d have liked to see more. That needs to get better, but we were missing a few of the better players due to minor injuries or illness. Had to punish a handful of no-effort balls to the floor.
Wednesday the first team plays another league match. The second team gets its first league play on Saturday.