This is an entry in my Technical Director’s log for the 2018-19 season.

As I noted in my last entry, things are underway for Charleston Academy. It’s choppy this time of year because of the holidays and whatnot, but we soldier on. Last week our 15s team coach ran his first week of practice with the team (recall that I covered their first week together). This week he followed up with his second.

We now have our full coaching staff onboard. Our final addition came in on November 29th. He and I coached together at Midwestern State for two years and he was still there this season. He obviously couldn’t join us until that was done. The plan was for him to coach the 12s. Since we didn’t form that team, though, his big focus will be on developing our youth programs. Of course, he’s also helping out in our 15s practices and working with a group of training players we have.

Addressing feedback

I met with the coaching staff briefly on the 29th before practice. The subject was feedback. In particular, I talked about making sure we focused it on the objectives of the session/exercise. Also, I want it to actually address the issue.

Let me explain that latter bit.

One of the things you hear a lot from coaches when balls hit the floor between players (and from parents) is, “Talk!” That’s an utterly useless thing to say. I’m not saying we don’t want to encourage communication (some of which is talking). I’m saying that “Talk!” doesn’t address the problem.

Why did the ball drop between the two players? In the vast majority of cases it’s because the player who should take it doesn’t, usually because she doesn’t realize it’s her ball (or she’s hoping it’s not). In other cases it’s because a player who shouldn’t be taking it gets in the way of the one who should. For neither situation is a lack of talking the cause of the ball hitting the floor, so yelling “Talk!” isn’t actually addressing the problem. The feedback instead should focus on responsibility, such as “Jenny, that’s your ball. Call it and take it.”

That is just a very obvious example of “feedback” that really isn’t feedback. I encouraged the coaches to think about what they say to players and make sure it actually addresses the issue.

Coaching the coaches

Talking about feedback is part of my role as coach of the coaches. Now that the full staff is in place and working, my job shifts to be more about that. I plan to have a major working session with the full staff shortly. In it we’ll hash out a number of things related to general coaching principles for the club – teaching cues, terminology, philosophy, etc. In the mean time, I’ve stepped in a couple of times to speak with coaches during practices and outside of them to talk about what they’re doing, their focal points, etc.

Coming up

Starting this evening we have Gold Medal Squared coming in to do a clinic. Mainly it is for our staff, but there will be a few others attending as well. Next week we’re slated to attend the 2018 AVCA Convention.

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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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