Here’s another good quote graphic shared by Alexis Lebedew. It obviously comes from the gymnastics work, which he spent a fair bit of time in.

This is a massively important lesson for coaches. It’s one I consistently see coaches struggle with, even though they don’t necessarily realize it.

Your players are not you. Coaching them the way you were coached, or how you wanted to be coached, isn’t what it’s about. Chances are, it won’t work. You need to coach each player where they are.

And don’t try to turn them into you.

Yes, there may be things you learned as a player that you want to instill in them. That’s all well and good. Just don’t expect to turn them into a version of you. It’s unlikely to work. They don’t have your personality, your background, or your experience. In other words, all the things that made you the player you were (or are if you still play). Plus, there are lots of different ways to be a successful player. It’s pretty arrogant to assume the way you did it is the only way.

The corollary to this if you are not someone who had a meaningful playing career is trying to turn players into someone you like, respect, etc. All the same issues noted above apply.

What is useful, though, is having a collection of different types of players you can use as potential role models. Obviously, I don’t mean actually on-hand (though there are situations where that might be the case). Instead, I mean players you can point out. That allows you to find someone a player you coach can relate to and use for motivation.

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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.