Category Archives: Coaching

How Much To Share?

“I give them (anyone who asks) my training methods and programmes but I don’t give them my brain.” Jose Mourinho, Up Close and Personal p110

Every coach will some longevity is asked for advice by other coaches.  Many coaches are asked to present at clinics and workshops.  The response from coaches varies.  Many coaches will happily share their time and experience… up to a point.  After all they don’t want to share their secrets with possible competitors who could some day beat them.  Some coaches don’t share anything at all.  I heard one notable coach say that he had spent a lot of money and time collecting his knowledge, why should he share it with others for free. Some of those simply think they have the secret.  One coach I worked with actually banned me from watching parts of his practices.  Although I suspect the real reason was because he realised I knew his ‘secret’ was just a con.

Then there are others, like Jose Mourinho*, who happily share everything.  Their logic is simple.  They can share all of the mechanics of what they do, but the mechanics, while interesting are not the keys.  If another coach took all of Mourinho’s coaching methods and programmes and carried them out exactly as written, the results would not, could not, be the same. Those coaches understand that the most important things are the connections between things, the spaces between the notes so to speak.  Those coaches also have nothing to fear, because as Mourinho goes on to say, the great coaches are always fiddling and adapting with their programmes to continue to improve.

How much do you share?

*I would like to think I fall into this category, but suspect I am more often the coach who holds something back.  Feel free to challenge me on it.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Dave Grohl’s Advice For Coaches

I have written before of my appreciation for the eternal wisdom of Dave Grohl. Indeed my life motto is ‘Everyone should love something as much as Dave Grohl loves music’. What I did not know was that Dave actually prepared a list of the 10 most important pieces of advice for coaching*.  I can’t put it any better than him.

1. You Have to Be Great
“If you’re good at what you do, people will recognize that. I really believe it.

2. Figure It Out
“If you’re focused and passionate and driven, you can achieve anything you want in life. I honestly believe that. Because you’ll fuckin’ figure it out.”

3. Chase Your Dreams

4. Don’t Lose Your Personality

5. Experiment

6. Do Your Own Thing
“The most important thing is that whatever you’re doing, it’s a representation of your voice. Whatever it is, the most important thing is that it’s your voice, that it’s coming from you.”

7. Find Balance

8. Just Do It
“There should be no right or wrong. You should be cool with what you do…”

9. Cherish Your Voice
“It’s your voice. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it’s fucking gone. Because everyone is blessed with at least that, and who knows how long it will last.”

10. Love What You Do
“People can talk about the good ol’ days. Well, fuck that, man. This is fuckin’ great! I don’t know how to do anything else. This is it.”


  • He didn’t really. Someone else pieced together a list of 10 important things for success from different interviews he has done and I have (slightly) edited it for coaching.  The article is here and the original video is below.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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More On Coaching Interventions

The most common misconception about coaching is that the work of the coach is in the stuff he ‘does’ and most specifically the stuff he ‘does’ that other people see. So coaches are judged on the number of timeouts they take in a game because that is what people recognise as ‘coaching’. They are judged on the things they shout at the players in practice or games, because that is what people recognise as coaching.  They are judged on the amount of feedback they give in practice because that is what people recognise as coaching.

I have written before about coaching and these interventions. Simply, coaching is not in the interventions.  This short YouTube addresses the difference between what happens when the coach relies on interventions in practice and when the coach relies on other methods.  It is a great way to spend two and a half minutes if you are a coach. Or a parent for that matter.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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The Coaching Is Not In The Interventions

There is a common quote applying to music that I first heard in a Phil Jackson book but have heard in varying forms many times since,

“Music is the space between the notes.”

The quote has been attributed among others to Claude Debussy, and it always makes me think about things like the interactions and relationships in the playing of whatever game is being talked about at the time.  A few days ago I read something that made me think of this idea directly in relation to coaching.

Most people think of coaching as being what the coach does during the game, the timeouts, the substitutions or if we want to go into real ‘depth’, the starting rotation.  Some smarter people understand that what happens in practice is equally important, the drills done, the feedback given, the time taken, the conduct of practice.

The moment I had was when it occurred to me that all of those things are interventions.  The notes, if you will.  But just as music is not in the notes, the coaching is not in the interventions.  The coaching is in the timing of the interventions.  It is choosing the moment when the feedback will have the greatest impact.  It is not giving any verbal feedback at all but allowing the player or team to learn the lesson by themselves.  It is allowing the errors that lead to learning.  It is not jumping up and down on the sideline berating players or the referee but trusting the team to carry out the vision of the game you have taught them in practice.

In short, the coaching is not in the interventions. The coaching is in the space between the interventions.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Shooting Blind – A Life Without Feedback

This week my club president invited the team and staff for a casual get together / get to know you / team building activity at a local gun club.  If you think about it, it is a logical place to hold a team get together.  I mean what brings a group of men more enjoyment than shooting stuff?  Oh, you can think of a few things, eh? Well, anyway that is where we went.  After struggling for a few minutes with the personal morality of shooting a gun at all (particularly as I don’t want my son to have even a toy gun), I decided to join in.  It was an interesting experience.

The first problem I had was that I wasn’t wearing my glasses.  This wasn’t an issue about seeing the target, or not, but an issue of not being able to see what I hit.  I took careful aim at the target, carefully squeezed the trigger and off in the distance there was a cloud of dust.  I had no clue whether I had hit anything in between those events.  I was shooting blind.  I realised that without being able to see the target I had no feedback on what I was doing.  Between series I was able to see the target and eventually piece together some information.

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In the picture on the right you can see the 8 and 6 below the bullseye were in my 3rd series.  The 10, 9 and 8 were in my 4th series.  With feedback, I could quickly improve.

Oddly, considering how many millions of times I have seen it, I am much better able to ‘see’ where a ball lands after having spent a season working with the video challenge system in the Polish League.  For the first time in my over 30 year involvement with volleyball I have had actual feedback on where a ball has landed.  It turns out that is important too.  Who would have thought.

The lesson is, as always, there is no learning without feedback.

Competitor Or Deflector?

If we have spent any time at all around volleyball gyms we feel pretty confident that we can pick out the great competitors among any group.  The great competitors are often the centre of attention.  They play aggressively on every play.  They are always pushing their teammates.  They question every call, even in a non important drill on a Tuesday afternoon, because winning is an every day thing.  They are great competitors.

I see a lot of things differently than most people see them.  Or maybe more accurately, I link things differently together than others. For example, where many coaches see lack of effort, I see lack of readiness.  And so it was when I was involved with coaching one of those great competitors.  Others saw an obvious and enormous will to win.  But I noticed that our ‘competitor’ only pushed his teammates to track down his errant plays (and berated them if they didn’t succeed).  He only questioned (and argued) the calls that would have prevented his mistakes.  Sure he was always aggressive, but most of what he did that stood out from the crowd had the effect (intended or otherwise) of deflecting our attention away from his mistakes.  He was not a competitor.  He was a deflector.

How is it in your gym?


The legendary Platonov, now on iTunes.

https://itun.es/au/SNTxV.l

Calling For The Ball – What If?

John at the ‘Coaching Volleyball’ blog recently published a post on ‘getting young players to communicate and move‘.  In it he addresses methods of getting players to call the ball and move aggressively to play it.  This is a topic that one hears very, very often at all levels.  If a ball lands between two players then the solution is for someone to call for it.  This is the obvious solution.  Surely.

But what if the reason that the players stay rooted mutely to the spot is because they don’t know who should play the ball?  They already know how to move because you have (presumably) already taught them that and they obviously already know how to call.  The area missing is the knowledge and understanding of who should play the ball.

If that were the case, then telling the players to call more does nothing to solve the problem.  If that were the case, then doing more footwork drills does nothing to solve the problem. Both of those solutions are more likely to inspire a player who is neither afraid to call nor to move, to do both of those things and play the ball that he / she should not*.

Furthermore the idea of asking young players to make collective decisions unguided is by itself fraught with difficulties.  As a colleague recently told me,

“Any time I ask a group of 14 year old girls to make a collective decision it takes at least 5 minutes. The chances of them being able to do it in 1/20th of a second seems to be extremely slim.”

So, what if the coach gave specific information to the players on exactly who should play each ball and when and why?

As soon as you have more than one player in any volleyball related activity then you move outside the technical realm.  There is no technical solution.  When multiple players are involved the problem is actually organisation and understanding, in some order.  To solve that problem you need to increase understanding and clarify.  And that is what the coach must do.


*A team should be structured in such a way that all areas and phases of the game are covered and that players have specific roles in each situation that provide the BEST outcome for the team.  A high level of structure and organisation is interested not in keeping the ball off the ground and getting the ball over the net, but in how to carry out those activities as a group to the best advantage of the team.


Olympic great Vyacheslav Platonov reveals his coaching secrets here.

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