A podcasts I’ve listened to sometimes is Sports Coach Radio. One episode featured an interview with Daniel Coyle, who you may know as the author of The Talent Code. The interview is an interesting one – well worth a listen. As are most of the podcast episodes, for that matter.

The Belichick interview technique

In this particular episode’s discussion there is talk about what you could call the interview technique of Bill Belichick. For those who don’t know of him, Belichick is the head coach for the New England Patriots football team. He has six NFL championships, with three other appearances in the title game (at the time of this update). He generally rates at or very near the top of the list of best American coaches, in all sports. I’m not just saying that because he’s coach for my home team. 🙂

Anyway, the story goes that when Belichick met a prospective draft pick during the NFL combine he would immediately show him video of some of his worst play. The idea behind doing so is to judge the character of the player by seeing how he would react. Would he make excuses? Would he blame his teammates? Did he never really self-evaluate? Or did he take ownership of his mistake, accept responsibility, and work to avoid repeating the error?

This reminds me of a “behavioral” interview question that gets asked these days, which I myself have gotten (and which comes up in the podcast as well) – “Tell me about a time when you made a mistake and what did you do about it.” These sorts of questions are meant to focus on personal traits rather than job skills and experience. It got me thinking about the collegiate volleyball recruiting process.

Recruitment as hiring

Recruitment is basically hiring. Coaches of professional teams have to deal with this as well. It’s one of those elements of coaching when you reach a certain level which arguably becomes at least as important as your ability to train players and manage teams during matches. This is why it is often easier to get a job as a head coach at a certain level if you’ve assisted at that level than if you’ve been successful as head coach at a lower level. It means you know what is required – at least in theory – to work at that level.

The podcast also brings up the idea of continuous professional development. It’s pretty easy for volleyball coaches to think about improving their skills when it comes to their sport. For early career coaches this tends to be about collecting drills (see Fancy New Drill Syndrome – A Coaching Affliction). At a certain point, however, it becomes advantageous to start thinking beyond volleyball to other sports, and then beyond sports to things like management.

Coaching lessons can be learned from many different sources. That’s why you’ll find many non-volleyball books – and even non-sports books – among those I read and review.

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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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