Tag Archives: Hugh McCutcheon

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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Coaching Tip Of The Week #3 (Bonus)

“Take time to smell the roses”

Hugh McCutcheon says “As head coaches, we are perpetually dissatisfied.”  This is absolutely correct.  Coaches must always be searching for improvements and you cannot do that if you are satisfied with what you have.

But on the other hand, the game gives us so many disappointments that we need to enjoy the big wins, the great performances, the excellent practices, the fantastic rallies, for their own sake.  When our team does something great, revel in it, enjoy it.  And make sure your players do too.  Volleyball is a game to be played.  Always remember the joy of playing.  The next disappointment will come fast enough to keep us dissatisfied.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Reid Priddy Speaks…

US Olympic Gold Medallist Reid Priddy recently gave an extended interview of the podcast The Net Live.  In a really interesting conversation he touched on a number of areas, including the things that he has learnt over the years and how is applying those things to the challenge of playing in the 2020 Olympics in beach volleyball.  I encourage you to listen to the whole thing (the link is below).

Some highlights…

On communication… “If we can communicate without talking, that will be an advantage.”

On probabilities… He wants to know the probability success of certain actions as both a reference point for learning and as a guide to action.

On coaches… He briefly compared Alekno, McCutcheon and Speraw, all of whom he had worked with particularly relating to errors.  He said that Alekno and McCutcheon were philosophically very similar in the way they wanted to manage risk.  They had set rules in place for when a player was allowed to risk and when they were had to minimise errors.  The main difference was that when it came to a fifth set Alekno took away all restrictions. The fifth set was about being aggressive.  On the other hand, Speraw never talked about mistakes. He never wanted his players to think about them.

On his book… for more information go to his website http://reidpriddy.com/

 

//percolate.blogtalkradio.com/offsiteplayer?hostId=51367&episodeId=9836787

Hugh McCutcheon on Perfectionism

Travelling by car is when I listen to podcasts.  And with all of the travel I have done lately, I have been able to get to the bottom of my podcast backlog which goes back several years now.  The following is from a roundtable talk at the AVCA Conference from 2013 (I think).  It was entitled ‘Training and Teaching With a Growth Mindset’.  Those sitting around the table included Hugh McCutcheon and Marv Dunphy.  A question was presented about dealing with perfectionists to which Marv quipped, “I can handle those, the ones I can’t handle are the moody, mopey ones.”  Hugh went into a little more detail with his thoughts.  I will transcribe without comment.

Hugh McCutcheon 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.

Quotes – Part 3

Over the last couple of years on the facebook page I have posted quotes that jumped out at me from various sources.  Here is the third collection of some of them. In no particular order.  Part 1 is here.  Part 2 is here.

“Every player should take 5 minutes to themselves before practice and mentally lock into what needs to be done. Jeff Boals

“Training doesn’t have to be certain length of time to be effective.” Mark Lebedew

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. Ken Robinson

“The interesting thing about coaching is troubling the comfortable and comforting the troubled.” Ric Charlesworth

“Practice is the battle you must win.” Hugh McCutcheon

“The bagger is the technique of lazy.” Daniele Bagnoli

“After the game is before the game.” Sepp Herberger

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. Susan Cain

“Victories come when their time comes. Often later than you wish. Patience is an essential quality of a coach’s profession.” Vyacheslav Platonov

“It’s not all rainbows and ponies.” Hugh McCutcheon

“You cannot buy experience. You have to fight for it.” Marc Wilmots

“The idea that I [should] trust my eyes more than the stats, I don’t buy that because I’ve seen magicians pull rabbits out of hats and I know that the rabbit’s not in there.” Billy Beane

“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” Pat Riley

“Volleyball is not like a formula so we must give players some freedom.” Karch Kiraly

“Great organisations choose principles over people. When you give up on the principles, sooner or later you will break down.” Ettore Messina

“What you see is more important than what you know.” Giovanni Guidetti on scouting Continue reading

Quotes – Part 1

Over the last couple of years on the facebook page I have posted quotes that jumped out at me from various sources.  Here is a collection of some of them. In no particular order.

“From failure you learn ten times more. Victory gives you ten minutes of peace, but then it makes you stupid.” Pep Guardiola

“Being a coach is fascinating. That is why it is so difficult for some to give up. It’s sweet, a constant feeling of excitement, your head is going at 100mph all the time.” Pep Guardiola

“In a club’s normal practice sessions, the idea is for the coaches to push the players so that they work just one notch harder than they want to work.” Phil Jackson

“The key is not the “will to win” – everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” Bobby Knight

“Football is not art. But there is an art to playing good football. … It is also very difficult to play simple football. It is the same with artists. The best work is not difficult, it is simple.” Ruud Krol

“I hope that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.” Michaelangelo

“Football, as anything else, is always a series of problems. Your success will depend on how well you are prepared and how well you handle those problems as they come along.” Bill Walsh

“Success is about having. Excellence is about being.” Mike Ditka

“There’s a different between knowing the path and walking the path.” Morpheus

“If you make every game a life and death proposition you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.” Dean Smith

“Real competitiveness is what you do when the opponent is yourself.” Mark Lebedew
Continue reading

Coaches I Thought About In 2012

Just for the hell of it, I thought I’d write about some of the things I thought about in 2012.  Lots of stuff actually happened in the volleyball world in 2012 but I know nothing about nearly all of it because it happened in beach volleyball or women’s volleyball.  That’s not to say I never thought about beach volleyball or women’s volleyball, I just didn’t follow them.  So everything that follows will be male and indoor centric.  I think I’ll split them up into two or three posts.  I’ve already written about TEAMS and PLAYERS.  This one is about COACHES

I don’t the discussion about the best coach in 2012 should be a very long one.  In 2011, Vladimir Alekno won the Russian League with his club Dynamo Kazan and World League and World Cup with Russia.  In 2012, he won the Russian League again while adding the European Champions League title and topped it all of by winning the Olympics.  I doubt if any coach in men’s volleyball has had such an impressive 24 month period and I am not the least bit surprised that he retired from the National Team at the end of it.  Lots has been written and discussed about the Olympic final in particular but I think I’ll share one anecdote to perhaps put it into perspective.  A very experienced player went to play in Alekno’s club team.  He had won everything there was to win in volleyball and didn’t think he had anything left to learn in volleyball.  While the practice part of Alekno’s work was not revolutionary, the player commented to friends that his work in games was amazing and he ended up learning an enormous amount.

Also on the list in Jose Guimares, the coach of the Brazilian women’s team.  I have to say I know almost nothing about him, except that he is pretty good at winning things.  His three Olympic Gold Medals (two with the women and one with the men) is a feat matched by exactly zero other coaches, as is the feat of having won both the men’s and women’s competitions.

After those two, I think the honorable mentions go to the silver medal winning coaches.  Bernardinho and Hugh McCutcheon are not unknown in these parts and I’ve written plenty about them before.  Bernardinho left London with his fifth medal (two bronze with the women and a gold and two silver with the men).  I honestly don’t even know how to process that and I don’t think any more really needs to be said.  I was fortunate to catch McCutcheon’s US women’s team in training before the games so they ended up being a team I followed closely throughout the tournament.  I think they played the best volleyball of any team, men or women, over those two weeks and their record over the last two years is phenomenal.  Unfortunately for them the gold medal is not awarded for excellence over a period of time, but for winning a single game.

So those were the teams, players and coaches I thought mostly about in 2012.  Obviously I thought of plenty of other things.  I also thought about practice and how to improve it.  I also thought about statistics and how to use them better.  And I thought a lot about how to utilise the lessons from other sports and teams and coaches into my own work.  I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to think about those things and to write about them here.