The following was asked in a Facebook volleyball coaching group.

If you can identify the three most important reasons why some coaches are more successful than others, what would they be?

This is a subject I wrote about in different ways three times previously. In Judging coaching greatness I looked at how it’s very often national team coaches who get “best coach” recognition – at least globally. In another I shared some Traits of successful volleyball coaches. Finally, I wrote about The two biggest jobs of a coach.

Of course the subject of coaching success is a major part of Volleyball Coaching Wizards.

The question here, though, isn’t necessarily about coaching greatness. It’s about success. In those terms I know immediately what the top of my list of reasons why some coaches are more successful than others. After that it’s a bit fuzzier, but here goes.

More talent

We can argue about the definition of talent, but the bottom line is you are far more likely to win with better athletes and better players. This is why recruiting is such an important part of college coaching. It happens at the club level too – and even with high schools in some cases. The pressure to get the best athletes – and thereby have the best chance to win – at times leads to rules violations and unethical behavior, as we hear from time to time.

Even if winning isn’t the main objective, having the right type of players matter. That’s in terms of attitude, athleticism, work ethic, etc.

Communication skills

A frequent answer to the question is the ability to communicate well. That’s definitely one I’ll go along with. It’s really hard to accomplish big things as a coach if you cannot get your message across to your players. And receive information back, as well.

A vision

Success can have a lot of different meanings. Sometimes it’s about winning. Sometimes it’s about player development. Whatever the case, to succeed you must have a vision of what that is and how to get there. This is the foundation of the work you do on a day-to-day basis and speaks to your priorities.

Beyond that …

I think the above three elements are fairly universal to all coaching situations. Beyond them things start to be more situation and/or coach dependent. What makes for a successful college coach can vary quite a bit from what a juniors coach needs to be at the top level. And it’s a different situation coaching 12s new to the game than coaching 18s trying to win a bid to Junior Nationals.

Also, things can balance out in ways. As a coach you may be stronger in one area that makes up for a weakness in another. I go more in-depth into this in the keys to success series.

What do you think? What leads to coaching success in your opinion.

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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.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.