Tag Archives: Australian Volleyball

Foot Defence Is Alright

I am sure that there are some people who have read this blog, or heard me talk, or been in my gym who think that I hate all defensive actions with the feet. Those people are misguided.  I have no issues at all with players using their feet to play the ball. I do however have issues with players not being ready to play the ball and using their feet to mask their laziness.  I have an issue with coaches who don’t recognise those actions for what they are and let their players get away with it.  And I have issues with people who highlight that laziness as something all players should aspire to.

Sometimes, just sometimes, using the feet to play the ball is the required action. And sometimes those players are rewarded.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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National Team Preparation

This week we started with the Australian National Team, Volleyroos if you will, in Jastrzebie Zdroj. We chose Jastrzebie Zdroj, the home of my club team Jastrzebski Wegiel, rather than AIS mostly for logistical reasons.  The players are mostly based in Europe and our first World League round is in Slovakia, a two hour drive from here.  In Jastrzebie we are able to optimise the acclimatisation process and my club has been able to host us in their wonderful facility.

For the first week I invited well known ex-players and current coaches Andrea Anastasi and Stefen Hubner to work with particular position groups. The three mornings Andrea spent with the receivers and Stefan with the middle blockers imparting their hard earned knowledge will stand us in good stead for the upcoming season.  In addition to those two, many coaches from around the region (and the world) dropped by the sessions to see us work out.

Right now the guys are enjoying a sunny, spring weekend in Poland, except for the guys here in the gym doing extra reps on their day off. 🙂 🙂 Next week we travel to Czech Republic for some scrimmages.  Further friendly matches are coming up against Iran, Poland and Canada.

Scroll down for a full team and staff list.

Hubner one of the best Middle Blocker work over BLOCK with @ausvolley #pallavolo #volleyball #siatkówka #AA

A post shared by AA 🇮🇹 (@anastasi60) on




Harry Peacock

Arash Dosanjh

Carsten Moeller


Paul Carroll

Lincoln Williams

Mitch Tulley

Outside Hitters

Nathan Roberts

Paul Sanderson

Sam Walker

Tom Douglas-Powell

Luke Smith

Jordan Richards

Max Staples

Middle Blockers

Travis Passier

Beau Graham

Trent O’Dea

Simon Hone

Nehemiah Mote


Luke Perry

Gerrard Lipscombe



National Team

Mark Lebedew

Luke Reynolds

Lauren Bertolacci

Liam Sketcher

Leszek Dejewski

Bogdan Szczebak

Darren Austin

Pawel Baryla

Giorgio Poetto

John Boultbee

Paulina Pawliczek


Andrea Anastasi

Stefan Hubner


Wojciech Serafin

John Forman

Dimar Skoryy


It’s All About The Journey

Every player or coach who has been involved with international volleyball has some kind of travel story / nightmare.  There are many, many things that go wrong while attempting to move groups of human beings large distances.  And sometimes several of those things can go wrong at the same time.  Those occasions are the ones that make the best stories.  The best story was probably the one that involved negotiating a bribe to be allowed to leave Uzbekistan.

The second best story involved travelling from Slovakia to Argentina.  Due to the lack of appropriate international competition, it was decided that we had to accept an invitation to participate in a tournament in Argentina right after a tour of Europe.  The only small problem was that the first game in Argentina was less than three days after the last game in Europe.  What happens next is an epic travel story.

Leaving in the middle of the night from the Olympic training centre in somewhere I no longer remember in Slovakia, our first leg was a trip to Vienna where we caught a flight to Heathrow.  From Heathrow, we had the relative comfort of a longish haul flight to New York, JFK (or was it Newark).  There we went through customs and baggage control and climbed into mini buses for the ride to Newark (or was it JFK) for the next leg to Buenos Aires.  Sadly Buenos Aires was not final destination.  But we did get to wander into the city to a sport school for lunch (breakfast? / dinner?) and sit around for a few hours waiting for a domestic flight to a small place with the same name as the training centre in Slovakia. Once we got off that plane and collected our luggage we were nearly there. Just a one hour bus ride to Tucumán left.

So if you are counting at home, that is four flights (three international, one domestic) and three bus trips (not counting airport – Buenos Aires – airport) and a total travelling time of 48 hours.  Luckily we had nearly 24 hours to recover from the travel before playing pre defection Cuba.  Remarkably, we hung with them for a set and even had a set point in the first.  Strangely, we ran out of steam after that and lost in three sets.  You can watch the match below.

We played two other matches in that tournament before travelling on to other, ever more remote, parts of Argentina to play against the hosts.  Before that relatively easy travel we had one more training session booked in the same gym as the tournament.  As you can see the gym looked okay on TV but it was pretty dumpy (eg the toilets in the changerooms didn’t function).  But as bad as it was we weren’t quite prepared for what awaited us in the gym we had played in twelve hours earlier and which the organisers had assured us was prepared for our practice.

We didn’t practice.  Click on the picture to enlarge, and yes, that is a bird next the lone net post.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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My Philosophy Of Volleyball

I recently did an interview with the Plus Liga TV channel.  It covers a lot of areas of my philosophy and ideas of volleyball in a different (perhaps more easily digestable) format than writing. One of my players saw it and commented that it was exactly like working with me. That is just about the biggest compliment that I can get.  Above all things I try to be consistent in my philosophy and in my messaging.  Wish I’d shaved though.

Thanks to Kamil Skladowski from the Plus Liga for then interview.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Setter’s Rules – Match

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Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work with many world class players including a number of setters of the highest level.  But for the mental, personal and team aspects of setting the best I have ever worked with remains to this day one with whom I played: Mark Tutton (bottom row, far right #5).  Tutts wasn’t very big even by the standards of the day and he was no technician, but he always, always won.  Not only did he always win, but he was the best teammate you could ever have and everybody loved playing with him.  I’m not sure which one of those things came first.  At some point, I decided that learning his secret would help me understand setters and how to help them.  So I called him and asked him how he played a game as a setter.  He began by telling me that he had no clue what he did.  And then told me exactly what he did.  Doing this won’t guarantee that you’ll win the match, but it will go a pretty long to it.


By Mark Tutton


  • Know the personalities of the spikers and how they respond to certain situations, i.e. do they like a lot of the ball or a little or only in certain situations
  • Know the preferences of the spikers, i.e. what is the spiker’s favourite hit
  • Know that each spiker is best and worst at hitting, e.g. what can’t the spiker hit


  • Determine the type of offence that will be most successful for a particular opponent, e.g. spread or tight offence


  • Notice which spikers are looking sharp and work on building up the others
  • Identify who is the ‘hot’ hitter, i.e. who is hitting best right now


  • Keep all spikers involved in the match, giving more or less even distribution, talking into account PRIOR KNOWLEDGE
  • Set the previously identified ‘hot’ hitter 2 or 3 balls to everyone else’s 1
  • If the situations requires, set the best hitter or the hottest hitter whatever defence is presented and no matter how obvious it is
  • Continually encourage all spikers

First Asian Volleyball Championships

 I have long held the belief that volleyball is a sport that does a very bad job of curating its history.  I could cite dozens of examples, but I won’t. 

I have also long held the belief that one should not complain if one is not prepared to do something about it.

By posting this I hope to give myself the right to complain for a little while.

I will let it speak for itself.


First Asian Volleyball Championships, Melbourne, August, 1975

by Walter Lebedew, OAM


Not so long ago, the 17th Asian Volleyball Championships were played in Dubai, UAE. Much to the disappointment of Australian volleyball fans Australia came fifth, not a very honourable place, considering that our men were Asian Champions only six years ago. Some reasons for the drop are glaringly obvious, others, no doubt, will be investigated and perhaps steps taken to improve the situation. None of this detracts from the fact that in the history of Asian Championships, Australia occupies a very special place. Thirty-eight years ago in 1975, the Australian Volleyball Federation, only twelve years after its foundation, organised the First Asian Volleyball Championships. It is and will forever remain a unique place of honour for the, then fledgling Australian volleyball among the greats of that era, Japan, Korea and China. Continue reading

Setter’s Rules – Practice

In the early 1990’s as Australia established a full-time, centralised, National Team program and sought to catch up with the rest of the world, ties were logically created with the United States.  They were after all the reigning Olympic champions, were culturally similar and had invented the centralised concept, or at least the version of it that we sought to emulate.  During that time various exchanges were conducted, mostly amongst coaches as the teams were not similar in level.  The exchange that I personally participated in, was a visit to Australia by Harlan Cohen.  Cohen had worked for a long time in the US at a variety of levels, including a stint coaching the women’s National Team.  At the time he came to Australia he was in his 60’s and, from memory, was working with Marv Dunphy at Pepperdine as a consultant.  He was definitely an interesting character and the theme of his visit was setting.

He had a lot of drills and theories that he applied and presented in National Team trainings and other sessions.  A few of things that come to mind are recommending that setters do some hand exercises in a bucket of rice for strengthen purposes, a lot of footwork exercises that setters did every day and the requirement that the ball should be passed low and fast to the top of the tape so that the offence could be fast.  Those are all very useful and interesting, but the greatest influence that  Harlan Cohen had on me, was to introduce to me the concept of the ‘Setter’s Rules’.

The ‘Setter’s Rules’ were training rules that held effect in every single drill throughout practice, regardless of the specifc goals of the drill.  They were designed to emphasise and consolidate the techniques, skills and behaviours that were required of setters.  I have used them in different situations over the years, particularly with younger players.  I can remember a particular coaching situation I was involved in where the team only trained once a week.  Individual technical training under those circumstances was not possible.  But simply by applying the ‘Setter’s Rules’ in practice my setters made enormous progress, in every area.  I can highly recommend them at every level.





I have also found one of the actual information sheets that Cohen shared, a specfic conditioning program for setters.  Interestingly, my team uses all of the medicine ball exercises with all our players.  Note the ‘Bucket of Rice’ exercise and I don’t recall what an ‘Arm Sprint’ is.

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