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

Back to work for the new year!

Last week we had two practices. Then we had a 2-day tournament in town to get the season underway. We’re off to the races now. 🙂

Technical Director Stuff

There are a few things I’ve wanted to work through collectively as a staff, but it simply hasn’t happened. It simply comes down to schedule and availability. I don’t see that getting any better, so I’m going to have to take these things in-hand myself. One of those is putting together a common set terminology for the club. Last week I got input from the coaches and the players to that end. I’ll finalize something shortly.

Another thing we talked about doing following the GMS clinic we hosted was putting together a list of standard exercises that will be common to all teams in the club. The idea there is to increase the efficiency of practices by limiting explanation time because the players already know how things work.

I should note that I’m not talking about making a specific list of drills and games that are rigid. Instead, it will be a list of what I think of as structures. They are ways of organizing an activity. Within that organization there will be the flexibility to adapt them to specific needs.

For example, the Winners structure is very well known. You can very easily adapt it with small adjustments to court size and other factors, as I wrote in Going next level with winners games.

I’ll be working on this list in the days ahead. I don’t know how long it will be, but definitely not longer than about twelve. Any more than that and you probably don’t use them often enough for players to easily remember how they work.

Tournament Outcomes

I was told the tournament featured all but the top team from one of the nearby clubs (they don’t compete regionally as they have no interest in going to Junior Nationals). The level of play wasn’t great, especially relative to the likes of North Texas. But that was as expected, given this part of the country isn’t exactly a known volleyball hotbed. Also, the first tournament of the season is always a bit rough.

All in all, not a bad weekend for the club. Our team ended up 3rd overall after losing in the gold bracket semis. That loss was only the second of the weekend after we dropped the first one on Saturday. In both cases they were 2-1 results as it was a best-of-3 format.

Of course, the thing opening tournaments are really about is seeing what you need to work on moving forward. We definitely have a solid list there. We’ve got a good batch of stats from which we can work, and loads of video.

Tournament format

I can’t help but make a comment on the tournament format. The first day was a traditional pool structure in AM and PM waves. Sunday, though, things went quite differently. The schedule featured crossover matches to determine brackets (gold, etc.). That’s not so unusual, though it usually happens the night before brackets happen in big events. That keeps the last day from running really long.

On top of that, some of the crossovers seemed useless. I saw the eventual champions play one against a team that was winless in its Saturday pool. What’s the point of that?

So Saturday we started at 2:30 and finished at about 7:30. Sunday, by comparison, we started at 10:00 and finished around 8:00, including a final work assignment. And some teams were still playing! There were definitely kids getting back home very late on a school night.

I think there has to be a better way to run a tournament that really doesn’t count toward anything.

Region Rankings

On Monday the first set of Palmetto Region 2019 rankings came out. The Region uses a head-to-head system rather than a tournament finish one, as described here. That means even though we tied for 3rd in the event we came out ranked 5th. One of the teams above us is the team that beat us in the first match on Saturday (though they only finished 8th thanks to a bad crossover loss), so no surprise there. The other is our fellow losing semifinalist. Given their advantage in set and point ratios over us, also not a surprise.

The rankings show 47 teams in the 15s age group this year.

I should note that AES ranked our team only 11th among Palmetto Region teams. As I understand it, the additional teams above us competed in non-Region competition. Any head-to-head results from those events will likely filter into the second set of Region rankings. The rankings are published on Mondays, but clubs have until Wednesday following an event to get in head-to-head results from non-Region tournaments.

Nationally, AES has us at 156th out of over 600 teams in the 15s age category.

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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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