The Best Week Of The Year – Australian Edition

The week leading up to the last Saturday in September is without question the best week of the year for all right thinking Australians.  The last Saturday in September is the day of the AFL Grand Final, the match that decides the champion of Australia’s national football code.  Leading up to the Grand Final is a week of talking about football in every medium you can think.  Mostly this is trite, idiotic crap.  But if you are compelled to watch it (as I am this year because my team is playing) you can find some absolute gems.

The YouTube link should start at an interview with the Football Manager (ie Sport Director) of one of the teams playing in the Grand Final, Neil Balme.  Balme was a player and a coach and is now one of the most successful and respected Football Managers in the game.  It is very interesting to hear him talking about coaching and developing a team.  His interview is only two minutes, so you can easily listen to them personally.  If you are afraid of being tainted by the trite, idiotic crap before and after his interview, or worried that you won’t understand his Australian accent, then these are the highlights.

“These blokes can play. They’re here because they can play. At some point you gotta let them play. You gotta trust them.”

“Your leaders have to have the discipline to be selfless, to actually show the selflessness that you need the team to have.  If they don’t show it, it won’t happen… If you don’t have the modelling of the selflessness from the coaches, it won’t happen.”

“It ain’t someone’s fault. It’s someone’s responsibility to get it better.”

“We’ve worked on their strengths, worked on the positive side.  You don’t ignore the bad stuff, but you don’t make an issue of it.”


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Coaching Tip Of The Week #8

“First, get the team to play as well as they can.”

The coach’s primary responsibility is get the team to play as well as they can.  This means choosing system that best highlights the players’ strengths, ensuring they are in good physical condition, preparing the appropriate tactics for each match, making sure the every player’s confidence level is good, and keeping the overall motivation level high.

It is always tempting for the coach to think of way to make their team better and to focus all their attention on that.  The coach must continually search for ways and means of improvement but this should not be the primary focus.  As you can see above, the job of getting the team to play as well as it can is difficult and complicated enough without focus being distracted by other things.  And if the players are playing well, confident and motivated, it turns out they are more open to making the changes necessary to improve.

More Coaching Tips of the Week can be found here.

For more great coaching tips, check out the Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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He Who Defends Everything

What is better?

A) Nearly make 50 plays, actually make 0

B) Completely miss 49 plays, actually make 1

Yesterday, I asked this question.  As is my wont, the question was deliberately vague while my intent was extremely specific.  As such the only correct answer was ‘it depends’ or ‘more information, please’.  Any other answer required the answerer to make some assumptions, specific to that person.  So in the end, every answer was correct.

When posing my conundrum, I was specifically speaking about blocking and defence, and the scenario when a defender (blocker) nearly defends a lot of balls but actually defends none versus a defender who actually defends balls but touches few.  What I find is that a lot of coaches (and players) think that if they are close to the ball, they are close to defending the ball.  This is a tantalising, yet false assumption.  Tantalising because it is easy to convince yourself that but for a small lack of skill (that you can acquire) or a little bit of luck (that you will have next time) you would have defended a lot of balls.  False, because there is no evidence that this is actually true.

If you analyse the plays what you are most likely to find is that by attempting to defend every ball the players is moving a lot.  As we all know, being on the move makes it far less likely that you are able to control the ball.  A player on the move, while increasing the number of touched balls, actually decreases the likelihood that they are able to make a dig.

Team defence is the coordination of players to achieve a team outcome.  The team outcome is scoring points.  A good defensive system must put players in the position that they are able to make quality defensive plays that the team is able to score from.  Therefore a good defensive system will put players in positions where they do not have to move very much, maximising the quality of the defence, and from which they can subsequently mount an effective offensive.  This means that some balls will land where there is no defence.  This is actually okay.  As famed Chinese coach Sun Tzu once said, “He who defends everything, defends nothing.”

For more great coaching tips, check out the Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Trenerska Porada Tygodnia #4

“Znajdź czas by cieszyć się życiem”*

Hugh McCutcheon mówi, że: “Jako trenerzy, jesteśmy bezustannie nieusatysfakcjonowani”. Jest to absolutną racją. Szkoleniowcy zawsze muszą szukać udoskonaleń, a tego nie da się zrobić, jeśli jest się zadowolonym z tego co się ma.

Z drugiej strony, gra daje nam tyle rozczarowań, że musimy cieszyć się z dużych zwycięstw, znakomitych występów, świetnych treningów, fantastycznych wymian – dla nich samych. Kiedy nasza drużyna zrobi coś znakomitego, baw i ciesz się tym. I upewnij się, że twoi zawodnicy również się tym cieszą. Siatkówka jest grą, która ma być grana. Zawsze pamiętaj o radości z grania. Kolejne rozczarowanie przyjdzie na tyle szybko, by pozostawić nas bez satysfakcji.

* “Take time to smell the roses” – W znaczeniu angielskim oznacza znaleźć czas by cieszyć się życiem.

* Artykuł przetłumaczony na język polski przez Zuzannę Dulnik.

Po Angielsku

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Hugh McCutcheon Quotes

I don’t think it is a secret that Hugh McCutcheon is one of the most successful and well known coaches in the world.  As someone who thinks a lot about the game, and has had success at every level, a lot of the things he says turn out to be pretty wise.  Here is a collection of quotes and thoughts of his that have appeared on this blog, and elsewhere, over the last few years.

On practice

“Practice is the battle you must win.”

On setting your goals

“We don’t have to be great.  We had to play good volleyball for extended periods of time”

On the ups and downs of high performance sport

“It’s not all rainbows and ponies.”

On the ‘USA System’

“I would hate for people to think there is some kind of coaching algorithm that we just throw out there (that) everyone walks in one end and walks out the other and we’ve got it all grooved in.  There’s a lot of art and science that goes into the coaching deal.  They’re learning, we’re learning, we’re all trying to figure it out.”

“(There is nothing trademarkable about the ‘system.’)  Coaching is about finding a system that works for your players.  There are some underlying principles which are applied in any coaching situation but it’s about picking the lock to get this group of players to play the best volleyball they’re capable of playing for a long period of time.”

On switching from coaching men to coaching women

“It’s a really interesting change that’s really forcing me to evolve as a coach, to keep growing and developing and trying to keep getting better.”

On the possibility of working both in Europe during the club season and with the National Team during the international season

“There are pros and cons to working the European season and the national team season.  In Europe you get better at coaching in matches.  But the advantage we’ve found by having a group of players year round, is that we get better at teaching, which is a critical component of the job.  It is about teaching and coaching and if you have a choice you’d rather be a better teacher than coach.  If you teach them the right way, they can get out and play just fine on their own and hope you don’t get in the way.  Ideally you’re good at both.”

On the US program being primarily a ‘teaching’ program

“There are phases for both (teaching and coaching).  We want to get better every day.  And the way you do that is put the athletes in an environment that work on their volleyball skills and give them feedback appropriate to that.  It’s not a complex formula.  It just takes a lot of time and energy and a lot of conviction.  You need to have a system that you believe in and a technical foundation that you want to establish.”

On perfectionism

“It’s a pretty self indulgent habit.  And I think ultimately it is very selfish. ‘My performance has to be perfect for me to be happy on this team right now.’  So what you’ve got to talk to them about is that nobody’s played the perfect game of volleyball yet and it’s sure as hell not going to happen today.  So let’s just take that off the table.  What we need to talk about is process.  How about you cover every ball.  How about you call every time.  How about you go and support your teammates every time.  How about you get your approach footwork right, your double arm lift, and get loaded and work on the things you are supposed to work on to get better at this game.  So you can have perfect process.  You can demand that.  You should demand that.  But perfectionism is a selfish and kind of pretentious thing that players use to kind of protect themselves, preventing themselves from actually engaging in the process.”

On yelling

“If you yell all the time, how do they know if you’re really angry?”

On satisfaction

“As head coaches, we are perpetually dissatisfied.”

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Trenerska Porada Tygodnia #3

coaching is not a theoretical exercise pol


“Bycie trenerem nie jest ćwiczeniem teoretycznym”

Wiele podręczników, książek czy biografii o pracy trenera lubi sugerować, lub bezwarunkowo określać, że jeśli trener zachowuje się w dany sposób, to pewne rezultaty są prawdopodobne. Niestety, sytuacja taka nie ma miejsca. Nie ma recepty na bycie szkoleniowcem i z pewnością nie można przewidzieć pewnych wyników. Co zadziałało w jednej drużynie, w jednej sytuacji, może nie działać w kolejnej.

Bycie trenerem jest praktyczne. Trener musi wziąć wszystkie dostępne informacje i podejmować decyzje najlepiej jak potrafi. Może też dokonać więcej dobrych niż złych wyborów metodą prób i błędów, nigdy nie powtarzając złej decyzji. Pamiętaj jednak, że nawet najbardziej doświadczeni i utytułowani trenerzy wciąż popełniają błędy, których nigdy byś się po nich nie spodziewał.

* Artykuł przetłumaczony na język polski przez Zuzannę Dulnik.

Po Angielsku

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Coaching Tip Of The Week #7

“The first time you do anything it is terrible”

When you start a weight training program, you have a period at the beginning that during which improvement is very fast.  Sadly this is not due to improved strength, but due to learning the how to perform the movement correctly.  It is known as the Learning Effect.  Only after the Learning Effect has taken place do you start to see the improvements that are caused by muscle adaptation through the weights program.

That same concept can be seen in other areas in the training environment.  For example, any new drill that the coach tries in practice has a period in which the players and team are learning how the drill works.  At some point performance off the drill improves significantly.  This is not actual skill development, but a Learning Effect.  And it is important to note that before the Learning Effect performance is terrible.  The same applies with warm up or small sided games.  Any time the coach introduces a new game, before the Learning Effect takes place performance is terrible.

The lesson is, the first time you do anything in practice, don’t expect performance to be excellent.  Relax and let the players work out how to do the drill.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Trenerska Porada Tygodnia #2

“Im bardziej zmęczeni są zawodnicy, tym intensywność treningów powinna być większa”

 Kiedy zawodnicy są zmęczeni, pierwszą rzecz o jakiej myślą to to, jak bardzo są zmęczeni. Im więcej czasu mają na myślenie, tym częściej mówią sobie i innym w drużynie jak bardzo są zmęczeni.

Ćwiczenia, które wymagają nauki, wymagają sporego wysiłku umysłowego. Zmęczeni siatkarze zużywają sporo z tego wysiłku umysłowego aby powiedzieć sobie i innym jak bardzo są zmęczeni.

To nie oznacza, że siatkarze nie są zmotywowani, nie chcą pracować lub nie chcą się rozwijać. To po prostu oznacza, że musisz zaserwować trening odpowiedni do bieżącego stanu psychicznego i fizycznego zawodników.

Jeżeli siatkarze nie mają czasu na myślenie, nie mają czasu rozwodzić się na temat swoich problemów. Zatem skróć przerwy pomiędzy akcjami. Na przykład użyj ćwiczeń z dużą ilością powtórzeń w krótkim czasie.

Rywalizacja zawsze motywuje. Nigdy nie przestanie mnie zdumiewać jak dorośli mężczyźni podniosą się – dosłownie i w przenośni – z podłogi, by zagrać w jakąś śmieszną zabawę, tylko dlatego, że to rywalizacja.

Jeśli drużyna jest zmęczona, dodaj kolejną piłkę lub zagraj w kolejną grę, a zawodnicy zawsze będą w stanie znaleźć więcej energii.

* Artykuł przetłumaczony na język polski przez Zuzannę Dulnik.

Po Angielsku

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Trenerska Porada Tygodnia #1

“Nigdy nie dokonuj oceny indywidualnych zawodników lub drużyny po pierwszym dniu lub tygodniu treningów”

Mówi się, że pierwsze wrażenie jest ważne, ale mówi się również aby nie wyciągać pochopnie wniosków. Na początku każdego okresu przedsezonowego zawsze jest ten siatkarz, który pracował bardzo ciężko w trakcie przerwy między sezonami i przyjechał w formie jakby był w połowie sezonu. I jest też siatkarz, który przyjeżdża bez formy i wygląda jakby nigdy wcześniej nie dotknął piłki do siatkówki. Większość zawodników oczywiście mieści się gdzieś po środku.

Zaczynanie od oceniania na podstawie pierwszych wrażeń to pułapka, ale doświadczenie powie ci, aby nie dokonywać pochopnych ocen. Doświadczony trener wie, że pierwszy tydzień przyniesie dokładnie zero mocy w przewidywaniu wyników zarówno drużyny jak i indywidualnych sportowców. Zatem usiądź spokojnie i obserwuj jak różni siatkarze reagują na treningi (i siebie nawzajem). Po paru tygodniach zaczniesz zauważać, że wiele z tych pierwszych obserwacji nie było dokładnych czy użytecznych. Wtedy zaczniesz dokonywać pożytecznych ocen.

* Artykuł przetłumaczony na język polski przez Zuzannę Dulnik.

Po Angielsku

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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