Category Archives: Volleyball

Coaching Tip Of The Week #12

 “Shout at the one you are angry at”

For some reason in the sporting environment it is considered appropriate, acceptable, and in some cases desirable, for the coach to shout at their players.  In the sporting environment, there can be some moments in which raising one’s voice is actually the best response.  For example, if the coach feels that the emotional state of the team needs to be heightened, shouting can sometimes have that effect.  In addition, there are other moments in an emotional and stressful environment when emotions boil over and the coach expresses their anger verbally.

Whatever the underlying reason, the coach must ensure that the anger is expressed in the right direction.  Too often coaches will have a ‘whipping boy’, a player who is always shouted at regardless of the situation.  Mostly this is a young player, and, not coincidentally, the player least able to defend themselves.  Coaches will shout at the ‘whipping boy’ when they are actually angry at the best player but are too respectful (or scared) to shout at them.

There are many reasons why it is okay not to shout at your best player, even if they ‘deserve’ it.  But is never okay to use another player as a surrogate for the sole purpose of making you feel better.


The collection of Coaching Tips can be found here.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Trenerska Porada Tygodnia #6

“Pierwszym zadaniem trenera jest sprawienie by zawodnicy chcieli przyjść na trening”

Jest wiele powodów, dla których zawodnicy przychodzą na trening.

Przychodzą, ponieważ ich rodzice tego chcą.

Przychodzą, ponieważ ich przyjaciele idą na trening.

Przychodzą, ponieważ są umownie zobowiązani.

Przychodzą, ponieważ czują się zobowiązani wobec drużyny.

Przychodzą, ponieważ tego chcą.

Ten ostatni powód jest kluczowy. Jeśli zawodnicy chcą przychodzić na trening, będą bardziej zaangażowani, będą w stanie nauczyć się więcej, będą lepiej wykonywać swoje zadanie. Poziom nie ma znaczenia. Jeśli trener chce wyciągnąć z zawodników jak najwiecej, musi stworzyć środowisko, które sprawi, że będą chcieli przychodzić na trening.

To obejmuje wiele dziedzin. Stworzone środowisko powinno bawić, ale powinno być też poważne. Na treningu powinna być dyscyplina, jednak nie zasady dla samego posiadania zasad. Trening powinien mieć przejrzystą strukturę, ale i wolność do eksperymentowania. Zespół powinien być w centrum skupienia, ale nie kosztem indywidualności. Wygrywanie, zaraz obok nauki, musi być ważne. Spraw by twoi zawodnicy chcieli przychodzić na trening, a twoja praca jest w 98% wykonana.


* Artykuł przetłumaczony na język polski przez Zuzannę Dulnik.

Po Angielsku


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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French Reception Technique – Part 2 Scott Touzinsky

I had the (mostly 😉 ) pleasure of coaching Scott Touzinsky for the best part of seven seasons in three different clubs and countries.  Scott’s best volleyball skill was his mastery of the backcourt, encompassing both reception and defence.  His preparation, positioning and control in both phases were exceptional.  For the last season we were together, I knew that it would be his last season and I promised myself that before the season finished I would take some close up video during practice that I could use.  Sadly, injury meant that Scott didn’t finish the season and I hadn’t got around to taking the video that I had planned to.

But… going through my old folders, I did happen to find a bit of footage that I could edit into about one minute of Scott Touzinsky reception.  The key points for me are:

  1. Very early preparation
  2. Minimal movement before contact
  3. Great platform control
  4. Balanced at the point of contact, with any movements after contact instead of before, including a cross step

This last point is a very interesting point.  I wrote a while ago about the reception technique espoused by French National Team coach Laurent Tillie.  When I originally posted his description there was a lot of consternation on the VCT Facebook page, as there was during the clinic when Tillie made his explanation.  A particular point of debate / discussion / anger was the cross step taken by the receiver after contact.  The only thing I can say to add to the conversation is that Scott Touzinsky is the best receiver I have worked with, and copying his technique would seem to be an excellent place to start being a great receiver.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Trenerska Porada Tygodnia #5

“Wszystko jest wyczuciem czasu”

To nie chodzi o to ile punktów zdobywasz, chodzi o to kiedy je zdobywasz.

To nie chodzi o to ile błędów popełniasz, chodzi o to kiedy je popełniasz.

To nie chodzi o to jak mocno lub wysoko lub szybko uderzasz, chodzi o to kiedy uderzasz.

To nie chodzi o to jak szybki jesteś, chodzi o to kiedy docierasz tam, gdzie chcesz być.

To nie chodzi o to iloma opiniami możesz się podzielić, chodzi o to by wyrazić swoją opinię w odpowiednim momencie.

To nie chodzi o to ile treningu siłowego wykonujesz, chodzi o to kiedy planujesz treningi.

Wszystko jest wyczuciem czasu.


* Artykuł przetłumaczony na język polski przez Zuzannę Dulnik.

Po Angielsku


Read about the great new 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.”

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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