I have long held the belief that there are parallels between playing music in a band and playing volleyball in a team (and I have written about it here and here). Musicians often speak of the feeling of unity they can sometimes achieve, often when playing with particular musicians. While I am not a musician, the description matches some playing and coaching experiences I have had and seems to mirror many of the concepts that Phil Jackson writes about. Yesterday I came across this quote from Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd.
“When playing music, listening is more important than actually playing. When the band communicates we’re actually all listening to each other and then applying it when we play.”
There are two things that instantly jump out at me. The first is the idea of ‘listening’ to his band members. This parallels being aware of the movements and actions of teammates, that obviously goes beyond the basic team structure and organisation. A player who is ‘listening’ to his teammate is aware of the movements and the positions the player reaches as he responds to each game situation. If you have ‘listened’ to your teammate you know where he is and in what timing and you can play with him beyond the basic structure. This is evidently mostly in transition situations where positions are less predictable. When I think about this idea, I imagine the French team playing volleyball.
The second point that jumps out at me is how he uses the word ‘communicates’. He is not talking about words that are spoken in the group. Communication is two sided, and in this usage Shepherd is emphasising that communication is both how you listen AND how you then react. And only when you can do both at a high level can you reach the very highest level of group (team) play.
As always, the lesson is that high volleyball is not technical. It is about the level of interaction within a group.
Here is Soundgarden… and France.
Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.