In this post I shared some of the key coaching lessons I took away from my experience working with the Exeter University teams during the 2013-14 season. Here I want to talk about how I planned on translating those lessons into specific action plans for 2014-15. I provide it as an example of self-reflection and taking that forward.

Establish team goals from the start

I spoke with one of the club captains before the season started. I said that for both the men and women the top priority was to avoid relegation from the BUCS Premier League. That’s a totally reasonable goal, but it’s also an organizational one which comes from outside the team. We need goals that come from the players, with the coach providing guidance. It may be that for a given team avoiding relegation really makes the most sense as the top goal. It could also be that avoiding relegation is too low a target to set. We wouldn’t know what direction to take until the teams got formed after trials.

Have individual player meetings periodically

The prior year I did these with the women at about the mid-term point. That seemed to work out pretty well. This new year the men should also have a similar set of meetings.

Establish the tardiness policy and consequences from the start

The prior season we didn’t get around to do this until late in the first term. The team was punished with calisthenics at the end of training. The length was the same amount of time as the offending player was tardy. It was something the leadership decided.

Require more advanced notice of non-emergency absences

The rule in 2013-14 was that players must let the team captain know if they were going to miss training no later than an hour beforehand. The problem was too often I had ideas for a week’s training. Then I found out that when the day came I couldn’t do what I wanted for lack of the players necessary. In the new year I want a rule which says player must let the captain know the week prior of any planned absences.

Lots of mixed-squad game play

There are so many times during the season that we aren’t able to field a clean starting 6/7 for one reason or another that it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to regularly break out 1st and 2nd teams in training.


I needed to find ways to incorporate self-stat collection in the training process. I could think of a few ways to do that within the context of the more block oriented drills, but it’s harder for training games. If we video the games, though, there might be the opportunity for players to stat off the footage. Collecting that footage in the first place may be a challenge, though.

Dedicate at least some time each training to a technical focus

The prior year I was very concentrated on team development, and we don’t have a lot of training time. As a result, individual technical improvement took a backseat with perhaps serving as the exception. I needed to make sure I was much more active working on technique for at least part of each training session moving ahead.

There are a lot of other elements to actually planning out a season in terms of developing priorities and establishing a training structure. Until we did trials and picked teams, however, planning could only go so far. There was still the open question of the final BUCS schedule to be answered as well. The focal points above are at least part of the broader framework.

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.