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Platonov Book On Sale Now

Book Scans Cover Front Cover v2

During his lifetime, Vyacheslav Platonov wrote several books, mostly of the autobiographical / memoir type.  His last book, however, was intended to be a handbook for aspiring coaches and as such it contains much of the collected, practical coaching wisdom he accumulated during his many years at the highest level of international volleyball.  He specifically discusses developing your own style, building a team, the qualities of a successful coach, training and preparation, and coaching the game.

For the first time ever, this book is now available in English.  It is available in ePub format here, and as a hardcover book here.  There is also a facebook page. I believe this book is unique in volleyball and a vital addition to the professional library of every serious coach.

If you are living in or around Berlin, or somewhere Berlin Recycling Volleys is playing in the near future, you can buy the hardcover version directly from me. Just contact me via the facebook page.

World Championships 2014 – Part Three

Some more thoughts about the recently completed World Championships.  Part One is here.  Part Two is here.

The Individuals – The thing that I will most remember about this World Championships is the individual performances.  I don’t recall any previous tournament (which is not the same as it never happened before) in which individual players so completed dominated individual games.  Four performances stick in my mind (from the games I saw). Continue reading

World Championships 2014 – Part Two

Some more thoughts about the recently completed World Championships.  Part One is here.

The Presentation – Among the traditional activities of the Awards Presentation (for example random people who nobody has ever heard of presenting medals) there was one quite odd occurrence.  While everyone was watching the Polish team celebrate on the court and the tournament staff prepare for the presentation, out of nowhere the Polish captain appeared in the stands and received the rather beautiful, almost certainly not stolen, trophy from the FIVB President.  I wasn’t expecting it at all and only saw it at the last second on the video screen.  He then gave the trophy to someone, and ran back onto the court to be with his teammates.  The trophy then made its own way to the court where it waited on a table like normal and was presented to the team at the end of the ceremony.  I had completely forgotten about the weird first presentation until two days later when it suddenly occurred to me they must have been trying to emulate the football presentation ceremony.  I laughed out loud.  I am quietly confident that not one single spectator remembers the event today.  It was completely out of place.

The Best Team – I don’t think this will be a tournament remembered for an outstanding team.  The star of the tournament will always be the tournament itself.  Poland proved itself to be at least the toughest team, losing only once (to the USA), winning four five set matches in a row in the second and third rounds and beating Brazil twice and Russia once.  Writing that sentence Continue reading

World Championships 2014

The World Championships that concluded on Sunday was the first of the social media / internet age. By that I mean news and results and updates and in many cases video were available in real time. In contrast the first World Championships that I was interested in (1986) essentially happened in private. The results arrived by sea post and the couple of videos that I received arrived literally by container. I try to remember this fact every time I’m about to angry that my live stream gets choppy. And it is the reason I can never get too upset that volleyball isn’t on TV.
This was also the first World Championships, at least for the last 40 years, without a clear favourite or favourites coming into the tournament. Before the event I commented that there were eight teams that would think they had real chances to win. It turned out that I underestimated that number.
Some thoughts… Continue reading

The Danger Of Volleyball

Apparently during World Championships action today two players suffered ankle injuries in a single set.  With the foot injury suffered by the Bulgarian Yosifov earlier in the tournament (see video below), the ‘spate’ of injuries prompted a reader on the facebook page to comment that the FIVB needs to change the centre line rules.  I didn’t see either of the current actions so I don’t know if they were the result of legal or illegal actions so I’ll assume for the moment that they were both legal actions.

The first thing I will say is that Ruben Acosta tried to address this issue about ten years ago but despite his not inconsiderable power, he couldn’t even persuade people to have a discussion about it.  So the groundswell of support to change the rule is essentially zero.

Another thing that is essentially zero is the chance of incurring an ankle injury.  So the second thing I will say is that there is no reason to change the rule.  This week three players suffered very visible injuries.  Therefore we have the danger of net actions at the forefront of our mind.  But how dangerous are these actions in reality?  We know that in a men’s volleyball match each team has about 100 spikes per match.  Each of these theoretically creates an injury risk by having spikers and blockers jumping very close to each other.  So in a match we have 200 spikes.  In this tournament there are 103 matches.  In total there will be about 20,000 ‘injury risk moments’ of which three have led to injury.  That means there is an injury roughly every 6,500 actions.  The probability of injury is a number very, very close to zero.  If you look at it another way, the teams will play 206 matches this tournament.  That total of three injuries means a team could expect to have a foot injury about once every 70 matches, or an individual could have one about once every 420 matches.  In my team I have had one ankle injury during a match in the last five seasons, about 170 matches.

I think when an ankle injury occurs we should not think about how many of them there are, because there are actually hardly any.  We should be thinking of how few there are and how insanely improbable it is to happen at all.

The phenomenon of incorrectly judging probability is very common.  The most visible example being that of shark attacks.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

Cover v2

Previous Post – Bad Coaching 101

Bad Coaching 101

A week or so ago, I asked on the facebook page how much the rules of the game drive or guide the development of technique.  As always it led to an interesting discussion.  Thanks to everyone who contributed their two cents worth.  However, by framing discussion as I did I masked my true intent.

The question was ‘inspired’ by several experiences I have had in the last couple of months working with and observing coaches in action.  In my observations many coaches, far too many coaches, are conducting their trainings without respecting the most basic rules of volleyball.

The most basic rules of volleyball, in some order, are:

- The ball cannot be caught

- The ball cannot touch the ground

- The ball must go over the net and into the court

- The lines must be respected Continue reading

Talent and ‘It’

A recent article appearing on grantland.com discussed in great detail the ‘It Factor’ as it related to the NFL.  In short, the ‘It Factor’ could be described as the intangibles that define the quality of a player beyond his physical, technical and tactical abilities and by extension contribute to his success (or otherwise).  To cut a long story short, and like everything on Grantland it is a long story, you can’t define the ‘It Factor’, predict its development, or in many cases identify it before the fact.  And yet there are clearly people who possess those qualities.  I find a lot of parallels here to various discussions about talent.  The last paragraph of the story is perfect as it is. Continue reading

Quotes – Part 3

Over the last couple of years on the facebook page I have posted quotes that jumped out at me from various sources.  Here is the third collection of some of them. In no particular order.  Part 1 is here.  Part 2 is here.

“Every player should take 5 minutes to themselves before practice and mentally lock into what needs to be done. Jeff Boals

“Training doesn’t have to be certain length of time to be effective.” Mark Lebedew

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. Ken Robinson

“The interesting thing about coaching is troubling the comfortable and comforting the troubled.” Ric Charlesworth

“Practice is the battle you must win.” Hugh McCutcheon

“The bagger is the technique of lazy.” Daniele Bagnoli

“After the game is before the game.” Sepp Herberger

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. Susan Cain

“Victories come when their time comes. Often later than you wish. Patience is an essential quality of a coach’s profession.” Vyacheslav Platonov

“It’s not all rainbows and ponies.” Hugh McCutcheon

“You cannot buy experience. You have to fight for it.” Marc Wilmots

“The idea that I [should] trust my eyes more than the stats, I don’t buy that because I’ve seen magicians pull rabbits out of hats and I know that the rabbit’s not in there.” Billy Beane

“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” Pat Riley

“Volleyball is not like a formula so we must give players some freedom.” Karch Kiraly

“Great organisations choose principles over people. When you give up on the principles, sooner or later you will break down.” Ettore Messina

“What you see is more important than what you know.” Giovanni Guidetti on scouting Continue reading