I have previously reviewed the book How We Learn to Move, by Rob Gray. Gray is a professor and researcher in skill acquisition at Arizona State University, as well as a consultant. Somewhat unusually, Gray actually talks at times about volleyball in relation to the work he does, even though baseball is clearly his #1 sport. He has a 2-part video sequence where he actually looks at things in regard to skill acquisition in volleyball. This first part is mainly about the scientific views on skill acquisition, particularly a comparison of what he calls the “traditional” view that skills can be broken down vs. the ecological approach which argues they cannot (part vs. whole training). He also discusses the difference between narrowly repetitive exercises vs. variable ones.

In the second video, Gray turns the focus more directly on volleyball and designing practices. He covers here the concepts of the Constraints Led Approach (CLA) and Differential Learning, which he talks about in the book. And toward the end he addresses Blocked vs. Random training. You probably won’t come away with specific plan strategies, but it should help you at least think about the sort of things you can/should do.

Gray also presented on these topics in a 2-parter with the Arizona Region of USA Volleyball. They are basically the same presentation, but with Q&A at the end. You can clearly hear John Kessel among the attendees. One of the interesting elements is that Gray addresses the kind of straw-manning I’ve talked about. In the Q&A of the second video below he addresses the idea of specificity, which we’ve heard a lot about over the years.

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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.

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