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


After our last tournament we made a good sized move in the AES rankings. We jumped up to 744 nationally from a prior rank of 1301. In their regional rankings we moved up to 8th from 22nd.

Our rank in the Palmetto Region moved from #7 to #6. Interestingly, the top ranked team actually played 16s in the last Region tournament. The next two teams in the rankings were the finalists at 15s. At #4 is the team that finished 2nd at the first event of the year, but didn’t play the last one. Meanwhile, the team directly above us at #5 lost in the quarterfinals of the last Region tournament, I believe to the 14s team we beat twice. We both finished 3rd at the first Region tournament, so I can only assume they beat some stronger teams than we did to explain them having a higher ranking than us.


The first week after our last tournament the head coach was unavailable, so I was again heavily involved in running things. We had two big things to work on. First was becoming stronger servers. That, primarily, meant everyone jump float serving. Most of the players stood to serve up to this point. We changed that the first practice of the week and kept developing it throughout.

The second big thing was speeding up arm swings. That was something we began with on the second day that first week, but really went further into on the third day. I’ll have more about how we did this in a separate post.

In the second week the focus shifted to serve reception. We continued to work on serving and attacking, as well, but got very technical in passing. In particular, movement and platform positioning got major attention. In many of the games we played we used process related scoring rather than scoring based on outcomes. By that I mean we gave out points for aggressive attacks, the type of serves we want them doing, and passing with the technique we’re after.

The third week basically carried on with those seams. The difference is that there was more 6 v 6 work given the upcoming tournament.

Tournament Results

Over the weekend we played in the Southeast Alliance Volleyball League (SAVL) tournament in Spartanburg. The SAVL is a what they call a power league. As I understand it in this context, the SAVL falls in between standard Regional competition and the USA Volleyball (USAV) qualifiers and national championships.

From a Charleston perspective, one of the big clubs here is a founding member of the SAVL. They have no interest in playing in USAV Nationals. As a result, they don’t need to play in Palmetto Region events. Nor do they need to play in the national qualifiers, which can have a big price tag. Instead, they send their top team(s) to play in the SAVL. It’s a good level of competition with a lower price tag and reduced travel compared to the USAV events.

We at CA are not part of the SAVL. Their events are open to outside competition, though, so we decided to take part in this one. The second event we played earlier was also SAVL. They have an interesting format where they overlap age groups – 13/14, 14/15, 15/16, 17/18. We opted for 15/16 as we did before.

Our seed entering the tournament was #25, which got us a #3 pool seed. Our pool featured the #2 seed (AES #20 overall), the #17, and the #33. Of the three, only the second seed was a 16s team, which also happened to be a Palmetto Region side.

Not surprisingly, we lost pretty handily by the top seed. We didn’t break 10 in the first set, but settled down and got 15 in the second. The second seed handled us without much problem either. We held our seed, though, by comprehensively beating the fourth seed.

That put us in a Sunday morning challenge match to determine if we went Copper bracket or Emerald. It was against the team directly ahead of us in the Palmetto Region rankings. Unfortunately, the team was clearly nervous and did not perform well. We then also went on to lose the Emerald bracket semifinal to a 16s team, though with a much improved performance.

Tournament thoughts

Not surprisingly, serving was inconsistent on the weekend. We had all the players just serve (at least most of the time). For most it was their first time doing so in competition. They needed to make that step up to continue their development, and the tournament didn’t really count toward much of anything, so it was a good time to do that.

Serve reception continues to be a weak point for the team. Obviously, that will remain a developmental focus moving forward. Same too with attacking. We really need to work a lot on our outsides hitting cross court (they all tend to attack 1/6 as a default), and on timing in the middle and right.

On the plus side, our block remains quite respectable for our level, and our defense was solid.

New facility

A preliminary plan for our new facility has been mocked up. Here’s roughly what it will look like.

Other stuff

Myself and one of the other coaches got out and did some observation. One day we went to watch the local college programs, College of Charleston and The Citadel, play a bunch of games as part of their Spring season. During that visit we got to chat a bit with both head coaches.

We also attended a sand training session for College of Charleston. They will host a tournament this weekend. It will be the only time they are home on the season, so we will probably attend. I hope to get our club kids out to the event as well.

6 Steps to Better Practices - Free Guide

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter today and get this free guide to making your practices the best, along with loads more coaching tips and information.

No spam ever. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

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.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.