Here’s a question that comes up among coaches. It’s also something discussed in several of the Volleyball Coaching Wizards interviews.

Just curious how much other coaches taper practices as postseason nears. What do your practices look like to keep skills sharp but also save legs a few days out from playoffs?

This is a very important subject, as rest and recovery are major factors in performance. Kevin Hambly had some interesting things to say on the subject in his Coach Your Brains Out interview.

Generally, coaches look to taper as the season progresses. Partly that’s a function of wanting players to be fresh for end-of-season and post-season play. For school coaches it also reflects the rising academic pressures that come as the school year moves on. Hambly notes in the interview, though, that he found he needs to make sure the intensity level doesn’t drop off. He linked reduced injuries in his teams to it. This is something that makes sense as it keeps fitness levels up.

Good rest and recovery is important through the whole season, though. Coaches talk about how they want mentally tough players, but fatigue is a major factor there. Fatigue also influences skill acquisition, and not in a good way.

Something to think about when you schedule pre-season double days and long practice sessions.

On a related note, another question is whether one should taper as one approaches match day. Coaches have mixed views. I personally favor ramping up the intensity. I tend to go shorter the day before the match, though.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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