An Australian coach named Cam asked me the following question a short time ago.

Now as you take on the new team, with a focus on the freshman and sophomore students, what skills will you look to develop to give you the edge in competition?  What trends have you found that will potentially give you the edge?  What is new in Volleyball that will see your team succeed?

This is a question directly related to me taking over at Medaille, but let me first provide a couple of general examples. There’s the question of team integrations, as well as priorities for coaching a new team.

Now, turning specifically to Medaille, I have two teams to consider. They look to have different considerations.


Cam mentions the freshmen and sophomore student in his questions. That is definitely a consideration for the women. As of this writing, the team only has seniors. There are no juniors, so the team is mostly first and second year players. Further, the team has not performed well for a while.

That being the case, I have a few broad things I need to work on. One is overall team cohesiveness. That is something I’d work on anyway, but my conversations with players reinforced the need to give that specific attention. I’m mainly speaking from the perspective how the team works together. That necessarily, however, takes into account how they interact and work together broadly.

Given the relative youth of the team, I’m sure there will be some skill development and/or expansion I’m going to want to accomplish. Exactly what that entails I can’t say right now. I need to see them in action before making that judgement. I do know the team needs to be better this year from the service line, though. They were second from the bottom of the conferences in aces/set last season. Granted, aces don’t necessarily have to mean great serving. When the top teams in the league are getting more than twice as many, though, you know you have some work to do.

The other broad thing I expect to need to give a lot of focus to is decision-making.


The recent history of the men’s program is better than that of the women. The last couple years they were down, but before that the team regularly contended for championships. Also, the men are not as youth-heavy as the women. This is made even more the case by a couple of the seniors from last season planning to stick around.

Since I haven’t seen the men in the gym any more than I have the women (just some video from last season), my initial approach with them will be similar. I will focus from the start on how we play as a team, and in the process assess developmental needs. From there I can prioritize the technical/tactical work.

Watch the logs

Of course, I will document all the things I do via my coaching log entries. You can follow them for both the women and the men in the weeks and months ahead.

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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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