Tag Archives: Coaching Philosophy

Allenarsi con i titolari

Uno dei concetti base della pallavolo e di tutti gli sport di squadra, è che più una combinazione di giocatori gioca insieme, meglio giocano insieme. E’ una affermazione abbastanza ovvia e logica che resiste nel tempo. Sapendo ciò, molti (la maggior parte) allenatori di sport di squadra, tendono a fare meno cambi possibili rispetto alla formazione di partenza, prima di tutto per creare affiatamento e poi per trarre vantaggio da questo affiatamento. Una piccola parte di allenatori estremizza questo concetto, concentrando tutto il lavoro o la maggior parte di esso, sui titolari. E’ logico che allenare i titolari è il modo migliore per creare un gruppo affiatato di titolari. Ma è davvero il modo migliore di costruire una squadra?

La mia risposta sarebbe un decisamente no! Il primo punto è che massimizzare le opportunità di allenamento per metà squadra, significa ridurre al minimo le opportunità di allenamento per l’altra metà della squadra. Ciò comporta diversi aspetti negativi per lo sviluppo della squadra.

Primo:  bisogna tenere conto che possono accadere tante cose nel corso della stagione, specialmente infortuni. Se i giocatori del sestetto non titolare non hanno mai l’occasione di giocare nel sestetto titolare, non ci si può poi aspettare che questi, nel momento del bisogno, siano in grado di esprimersi ad alto livello.

Secondo: la motivazione dei giocatori che non giocano mai nel sestetto titolare, in allenamento è sempre minore. Non importa quanto l’allenatore spinga o quanto siano professionali o intrinsecamente motivati i giocatori, a un certo punto la loro motivazione sarà inferiore a quella dei titolari e questo influirà negativamente sul livello dell’allenamento.

Terzo: se l’allenatore crea deliberatamente due gruppi durante gli allenamenti, non può ragionevolmente aspettarsi di avere una squadra unita fuori dal campo e in partita. Se l’allenatore predica la mentalità di squadra, ma non la mette in pratica durante gli allenamenti, non riuscirà mai a creare una squadra.

Ogni cosa che l’allenatore fa, risponde a un compromesso. Se scelgo di dividere la squadra in titolari e riserve, posso aspettarmi che i titolari giochino meglio insieme, a discapito però di un eventuale cambio per infortunio, ostacolando inoltre la costruzione della squadra. Se durante gli allenamenti mischio ripetutamente i giocatori, i titolari impiegheranno più tempo a sviluppare un’intesa ottimale, a discapito della performance. In questo caso però gli altri saranno pronti ad esprimersi al meglio se chiamati in causa e l’unità di squadra e l’intensità degli allenamenti manterranno un livello alto.
Io sono sempre stato un allenatore che preferisce costruire una squadra.

Tradotto da Manuela Erbì

Originali in Inglese qui.

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

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Coaching Tip of the Week #17

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“Don’t be precious”

Every (good) coach has a unique philosophy, an individual methodology, a particular style of play.  This is only right and normal.  After studying and observing and practicing and learning, every coach will sooner or later come to their own unique way.  When they are working it is only right and normal that the coach will want to impart this unique way on his charges and will understandably be frustrated at failure to achieve that goal.

However, the coach must never forget that the goal of the club which appointed / employed them IS NOT the implementation of that methodology.  The goal of the club is some performance outcome and while the methodology was presumably an important factor in the selection process it is not the goal itself.  Coaches must certainly have faith and trust in their hard won beliefs and be ready to fight for them, but on the other hand the coach can’t be precious about them.  The world is full of unemployed coaches who put their own philosophy ahead of the performance of the team.

The same principle applies to tactics.  Sometimes tactics are great on paper and don’t work in practice.  Sometimes tactics work well with one team, but not another.  Sometimes the same tactics work well in one season, but not in the next.  The coach can’t be precious about tactics either.

There are lots of ways to get to an outcome.  Sometimes the ‘right’ way doesn’t work.  Don’t be precious.  Go and find a way that does.

The collection of Coaching Tips can be found here.

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

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Training With The Starters

One of the key concepts of volleyball, or of any team sport, is that the more any combination of players play together, the better they play together.  It is a pretty obviously, logical statement and it stands up as true time and time again.  Knowing that, many (most) coaches in team sports will try to make as few changes as possible in their starting line up, firstly to create and secondly, to take advantage of this group understanding.  A smaller group of coaches take this concept to the extreme by focussing all, or most, or their training time on working with the starters.  It is logical that training the starters is the best way to develop a group of starters.  But is this really the best way to develop a team?

My answer would be emphatic, no!  The first point is that maximising the training opportunities for half of the team, will minimise the training opportunities of the other half of the team.  This has several negatives for the development of the team.

Firstly, there are many things that can happen over the course of a season, especially injuries.  If players from the second six never get the chance to play with the normal starters they cannot be expected to play at a high level if you ever need them.

Secondly, the motivation of players who never play with the starters in practice is always less.  It doesn’t matter how much the coach pushes, or how professional or intrinsically motivated the players are, at some point they will not bring the same the level of intensity to practice as the starters, which will negatively impact the level of practice.

Thirdly, if the coach deliberately creates two groups in practice, he cannot reasonably expect to see a unified team off the court or during matches.  If the coach preaches a team mentality but doesn’t act on it during practice he will never be able to create a team.

Everything a coach does is a tradeoff.  If I split my team into starters and non starters, then I can expect my starters to play better together, but I sacrifice a smooth transition in case of injury, and hinder the building of the team.   If I continually mix my team in practice, my ‘starters’ will take longer to develop an optimal group understanding and performance.  But others will be ready to peform at their best if needed, and the team unity and training level will stay high.

I have always been a coach that likes to build a team.

Teaching Resilience

Resilience is one of those mythical qualities that is highly sought after for high performance athletes in all sports.  You can often hear coaches talk about the resilience, or lack therefore, of their teams, and about steps they are taking to develop in their teams.

I certainly agree that resilience is highly desirable. There are innumerable situations during the course of a practice / week / match / season which create disappointments both small and large for individual players and teams.  How resilient those players and teams are to those disappointments is an important factor in quality of the team.

So how to develop that resilience?  It was suggested to me recently that coach’s anger (yelling, screaming etc) during practice specifically creates the conditions that allow resilience to develop.

So this is the question… are coaches who resist displays of anger during their work actually doing their players a disservice?

I’m interested in your thoughts.

Team Culture One Percenters

Everyone* knows that the key to victory in any sporting event is taking care of the 1%ers.  It is one of those pieces of conventional wisdom that we take for granted these days.  When those people* talk about 1%ers they are most often referring to very small technical or tactical areas or even the 1% extra effort required to be successful.  Some coaches have gone as far as to identify what those 1%ers are and measure them.

For those keeping track at home, I think a lot about how the team functions, about ‘The Secret’, about the interactions within the team.  While everyone* knows that the functioning of the team is really, really important, many (most?) coaches do not actually spend time on those elements.  And they would certainly never give up actual training time to work on them.  Indeed coaches are notoriously loathe to voluntarily cut practice time for any reason at all.  And when building a team, they will always take the player who is the slightly better player over the player who is nearly as good but is a better fit in the team.

For those reasons it was interesting and refreshing to hear a recent interview with Anna Collier on The Net Live.  Anna is coach of the USC women’s beach volleyball team which has won the last two NCAA championships.  In the interview she talks of the evolution of her coaching from being a coach interested only in technical development to one being primarily interested in establishing an effective team culture.

“I learned that to me if we have a problem on the team… (fixing that problem) is more valuable than hitting that high line a hundred more times.”

If I can interpret her philosophy, she considers the team culture to be a 1%er and subsequently devotes part of her time with the team to developing them.

Maybe coaching isn’t just about techniques and tactics.

You can listen to the whole interview here from about the 37 minute mark.


*When you read ‘everyone’ or ‘people say’ do you ever ask ‘which people?’ or do you just accept the statement as given?

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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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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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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