An article came to my attention in the area of horse riding instruction which makes some interesting points. Not a subject area many volleyball coaches have any experience with, I know. Coaching is coaching, though, and no matter the venture, it has some common challenges. Here’s a snippet I thought was very insightful:

Instructors can only teach what they know or what they see. We have a generation of copy cat instructors who see something but have no idea about the principles behind what they see.

This comment echos elements of what I discussed in my Fancy New Drill Syndrome post. Developing coaches remember drills they may have liked as players themselves. They then pick up new drills they think are cool because some high profile coach uses them. The problem comes when the underlying purpose and structure of a drill (or game) is not properly understood. That can lead to it’s misuse in training.

We must also extend this to skill training. Here too, before a coach can properly train a player to serve, pass, or hit a certain way they really need to understand the underlying mechanics and philosophy for the given approach. A lot of stuff is put out there in volleyball coaching conferences and clinics. Oftentimes, the presenters are high level collegiate and national team coaches. This raises the perception of the importance or value of what’s taught.

Just because Coach X said it…

I’ve been around long enough to have seen waves of coaching techniques being passed from coach-to-coach in the volleyball community. They quite often start with the national team program (or former members thereof such as Gold Medal Squared). That tends to lend them weight, especially with newer coaches. This sometimes create a near cult-like following. The problem is often what is used at the higher levels cannot (and in some cases should not) be used at the lower levels where most coaches operate. Unfortunately, developing coaches sometimes don’t recognize this. They try to use drills, games, or skill teaching techniques which simply aren’t appropriate.

So when you learn new volleyball drills or games, or any other coaching method, make sure you really understand them. Know them inside out and you can better put them to good use with your players. If you’re a newer coach, don’t hesitate to get the input from those more experienced than you.

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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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