Perspective – Part Three

Welcome to the third part of what is apparently an ongoing series.  Parts 1 and 2 are linked.

I’ve talked in those posts about the point from which one views the game and how different points provide different views and hence different information.  Perspective is important.

During our Champions League campaign last season, I was able, very briefly, to watch Vladimir Alekno during a training session.  What he did that was very interesting was that in a serve and reception drill, he did not position himself to allow an overview of the whole drill, but in a position that he could only watch the receivers. His entire attention was focused not on the conduct of the drill or the servers, but very specifically on the receivers from inside the court on the opposite side of the net.  That got me a thinking a little bit.

In a post on Eye Work For Coaches, I thought, and asked, about where the coach should focus his attention**.  What about if the coach doesn’t control his attention solely by his focus but by his position around, but more specifically on, the court? What if he stands on the court and in a position that his attention can’t waver from his goal?  What if he stands right next to the player? How much more information does he get?  Is that information better information? Can he link the movements of the player and ball better?
I’d be interested in some thoughts.
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** The final poll results showed that 95% of readers of this blog, however representative of anything that is, think that the coach should focus his attention on the players or the players’ feet.

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7 thoughts on “Perspective – Part Three

  1. Martin

    In some drills I also like to stand in the court sometimes. And if I look for technique I also sometimes like positions where I see the ball very late (just before contact). The reason for this is just what you have written above: I don’t get distracted by the ball so much. Many times as a coach I want to judge the whole situation, but sometimes this is counterproductive, so position is definitly a factor for me.

    PS: When I studied to become a PE teacher, we were taught that many times the background can distract your audience, so you are advised to chose your position accordingly. I feel, this can be valid for coaches as well.

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    1. markleb Post author

      Being distracted by the ball is a big component.
      The point about choosing your background is huge!! It is a basic skill for PE teachers, but coaches never learn it for some reason. I have worked with very high level coaches who are terrible at choosing their backgrounds and you can see the players becoming distracted by whatever it is.
      It is the reason that in many gyms the cheerleaders always dance in front of the visiting team’s bench 😉

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  2. Oliver Wagner (@volleyblogger)

    Interesting Mark, because last week I was exactly in this situation by chance. I am coaching some youngsters in our city who are playing on the all state team. Their all state coach asks me to work on particular technical improvements. The job for the following weeks is to improve the arm movement when preparing for the attack and the arm swing while attacking.

    By chance I came to see the players from inside the court and suddenly realized that the best position to watch their arm swing (and to work on this) prevented me from seeing the basic fault, which was the body position (inclined). With that body position the arm swing had to be as it was.

    So from my experience a coach’s position inside the court might help indeed to get a better and more precise focus on what really matters.

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    1. markleb Post author

      I think the point is that from different positions you can see different things. And for some problems, that position might not be the obvious one. If you don’t find the answer straight away, then keep moving until you see what you need to see.

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  3. Alexis Lebedew

    I think its an interesting question Mark but it feels to me a bit like the constant search for the ‘secret’ or the ‘one true way’. Where you stand depends on what you want to achieve. For example, if you want to achieve everything at a practice then you need to stand everywhere. Obviously impossible. You need to be clear about what it is you are working on and looking for, then make the decision on where you need to be after this. Oliver’s experience is a great example. By focussing only on one thing you may miss others, but this is all about the experience of the coach.

    Having said this, I’ve been working a lot on passing lately, always from front on. I think I’ll try it from behind (the perspective of the hitter) next practice.

    Lastly, god invented video for a reason, to be able to see multiple perspectives of the same thing simultaneously!

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    1. markleb Post author

      I would say the opposite. This post, or series of posts, is about not believing in the ‘one true way’. Coaches always, always talk about the end of the court view being the best. If you go to any match, anywhere in the world, you will find the coaches behind the court. The point is that this view is a great view, but not the only view. Experienced coaches can extrapolate a lot from there, but no matter how good the view is, it is still limited.

      One perspective I recently tried on reception is from inside the court, very close to the receiver. What I found from there is that you can very clearly ‘feel’ the timing of the movement. You have virtually the same view of the ball and can see if the player is getting his arms ready at the right time etc.

      That is a great point about video.

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  4. Tony V

    As a referee I prefer to watch the match from the first referee’s point of view. I guess I’m trying to get their point of view. To give you the referee’s version of this concept, “There is the ideal place to see what happened and there is the place you saw what happened. They may not be the same position”.

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