I saw the following in a coaching group.

Hey coaches, I am coaching my first professional team here in Denmark. So be ready for questions and tactic strategies.

What’s your reaction to that?

Was it something along the lines of, “You’re going to coach a professional team! Shouldn’t you already know about tactics and stuff?”

I should note that top level volleyball in Denmark is really what you’d call semi-professional. By that I mean you don’t have a full team of players who make their primary living from playing volleyball. There might be a few who do, but there are for sure others who really don’t make much at all. Some could be students who play on the side.

It’s similar to the situation I was in when coaching at Svedala. My team had three full-time pros. All the rest either had regular jobs or were in school. I actually coached against a number of Danish teams while I was in Sweden.

Additionally, I believe this new coach is actually in a player/coach situation. That means they haven’t been a dedicated coach before, seemingly. It’s something you sometimes see in volleyball – and other sports. When I coached at Brown, one of the other assistants was a former USA National Team player who played pro ball in Italy. For part of that time she was player/coach. Jefferson Williams, who’s interview is in the first Volleyball Coaching Wizards book, also was a long-time player/coach.

My point in all this is it’s a bit unfair to jump on the coach quoted above because we don’t really understand what “professional” means in their context. It certainly doesn’t mean what most Americans would think of as professional. And it’s not the same context as what it’d be in a strong volleyball country like Italy or Russia.

So be aware of the context before reacting in a situation like this.

You may find my series on college vs. professional volleyball interesting.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director of Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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