What Karch Knows About Volleyball

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In mid 2011, while still assistant coach with the US women’s team, Karch Kiraly presented a Coaches Seminar in Austria from which I recently received some information.  Hardly surprisingly much of what he said was interesting, although he was presenting on behalf of the USA Women’s program so I’m not sure how much of his personal insight was included.  Some of the highlights of the 3½ hour presentation, in no particular order and following my biases…

– He spoke about four guiding principles of the USA Women’s team and made the point that each coach should have their own.  These four are merely examples of guiding principles:

REPEATABLE – No contacts should be wasted.  Good plays should be repeated.  Techniques should be repeatable.

VARIANCE – In all technical work, variance should be limited.   Be as mechanically efficient as possible, cut out all extra movements.

MANAGING RISK – Sometimes it is important to take risks, sometimes it’s not.  There are many examples of this, but one that he talked about was playing a tough set short to gain a blocking advantage on the subsequent play.

SIMPLE – Simple communication (eg a shared vocabulary), simplicity in technique etc.

– One key point that he spoke about in virtually every context was ‘SEEING THE RIGHT THING’.  Effective decision making begins with collecting the most accurate data. For example blockers and defenders don’t go to where they think the spiker will hit, but where the ball actually goes.  “Don’t go until you know”  To learn if the players are seeing the right things, ask questions.

– Discipline and freedom are required.  The discipline to the right thing (ie see all cues, not guessing) allows the freedom to make plays.  “Volleyball is not like a formula so we must give players some freedom.’

– Players don’t need to make efforts, they need to make plays.  Chasing after the ball is not enough.

– In block, the USA team NEVER channels the ball to the defence.  The block is ALWAYS trying to block the ball.

OODA: The decision making process, ie Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.  One further point he made on this theory (but not on the wikipedia page) was that the pilot who makes a good decision faster (but not necessarily the best or perfect decision), will nearly always win in battle.  They obviously felt had parallels to a volleyball game.

Interesting stuff…


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