Tag Archives: Jastrzebski Wegiel

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



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.

Cover v2

Training Goals

There is a lot of research that shows the best kind of practice the coach should do with his team.  The best kind of practice that a coach should do with his team is distributed practice.  Distributed practice provides the best conditions for learning and importantly the retention of the learning.  That is clear.  Everyone knows that*.  So it logically follows that distributed practice is always the best way to practice.  Or does it?

What if the goal of a particular practice session is NOT learning? What if the goal is team building? Or active recovery? Or providing feedback? Or developing a common language?  Or improving communication? If the goal of practice is not learning then is it necessary to use only distributed practice formats?

The practice below was originally recorded by Volleywood for a Facebook Live Event.  The goal of the practice activation.  The team had had two free days prior to this practice.  Contrary to popular belief, professional athletes are not better when they have had free time and tend to be fairly sluggish.  Sometimes practice can look like the players have never met each other, or a ball, before.  In such cases, to prevent practice being an essential dead loss, we can have a morning practice that activates the nervous system and muscles, in preparation for the days that follow.  In that case we want to have simple activities and movements that allow a player to get back in communication with his body and with the ball.

The video quality is not perfect, and it wasn’t recorded with the view of being a training aid, but you can get the idea.

*Sadly, not everyone knows that.  But they should.

2014 Champions League Final Four – Part One

I am on record over the years of saying the Champions League Final Four is the best weekend of the volleyball year.  The reasons are partly obvious, the best club teams in Europe gather to play the highest level volleyball, and partly behind the scenes, it is a gathering of all the movers and shakers of European volleyball.  And of course when people gather to celebrate volleyball, there is a little party atmosphere going on too.

Sadly (only a little bit because it means I am still playing in my own league) I couldn’t attend in person this year, so the following observations are only the sporting ones, courtesy of laola1.tv.  In no particular order…

Serving is really, really important.  The ability to serve aces is the cornerstone of Russian, and therefore world, volleyball right now and the number of errors that accompany that kind of service pressure often seems incidental, if not totally unimportant.  The Belgorod team of Travica, Ilinykh, Grozer, Musersky and Tetyukhin was akin to a murderers row of servers.  Even if the first four made errors, you still couldn’t relax when the fifth one came up to serve.

Volleyball is coming into the 21st Century A lot of the volleyball at the 2012 Olympics was boring and predictable, with reducing errors the primary concern. Since then there has been a massive generational change and younger, more athletic players are being allowed to be more aggressive by their coaches.  This ‘movement’ was exemplified at this tournament by Jastrzębski Węgiel, in particular by Michal Kubiak and setter Michal Masny. The play is getting faster and riskier and in the bronze medal playoff was rewarded. I especially liked seeing an outside hitter hitting first tempo in transition.

Tetyukhin was rightly awarded the MVP trophy, not just for his service series that turned the fourth set in the final and won the match.  He has been a great player for a long, long time now but it seems that he has only started to receive due recognition in the last couple of years. In this tournament he was a player in complete command of himself and the game and a master of the little plays and big moments.  I think it is completely fair at this point to put him in the conversation with Karch Kiraly and Lorenzo Bernardi as the greatest player in history.   The conversation is a short one because the answer is Karch, but it is a bit longer than it was.

Musersky We should enjoy the best player in history conversations as much as we can while it is still possible.  Musersky showed again, without even being at his best, that he is ‘on pace’ to take Karch’s title. No player in history has had such an effect on the game in every phase. He is the best server, best attacker and best blocker. He can play defence when required and sets fast balls in transition. He is a joy to watch, not least because there is joy in his play.

Video Challenge System is (thankfully) here to stay, although what it’s final form will be is still unclear. In this tournament they used the Italian version which only allows in and out reviews and some net touches. The Polish system allows for reviews of nearly everything and is therefore better, but also more cumbersome.  The number of successful challenges against the home team, particularly on the far sideline from the TV perspective, showed its value in improving the fairness of the games, which must be the ultimate judge.  The system is not (yet) infallible.  I don’t know what brain fart (human or technological) resulted in not overturning the line judge at 2-1 in the fourth, but overall it is very positive.

Part two here.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

Cover v2

A Couple Of Cool Videos

I have actually practiced this situation at different times, and it happens reasonably regularly in matches.  But I’ve never seen it happen twice in one rally.

But this is one of my favourite funny actions.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

Cover v2

Polish Finals

I’ve seen a lot of shit.

But it seems I haven’t seen it all.  By a long stretch.

My feeling on the way to the gym for last nights game 4 of the Polish Championships Finals between Jastrzebski Wegiel and Skra Belchatow was that with both teams physically and mentally tired from a long season, Belchatow’s dominating victory in game 3 would give them enough momentum to win game 4 and clinch the title.  Jastrzebski with the help of their home court would gather their resources to win a set at home, but that would be about it.

The first set played out like I expected.  Belchatow were strong right out of the gate, Jastrzebie were tired and couldn’t get anything going.   Three serve errors and 7!! attack errors gifted Belchatow the set.

The second set played out like I expected.  Belchatow were on top for most of the set and and had a 21-19 lead.  But three or four inspirational plays from Marek Novotny suddenly levelled the scores at 24-24 and with 2500 spectators going crazy Jastrzebski won the set 30-28.

The third set played out like I expected.  For a while at least.  After that scare, Belchatow settled down again and at 15-10 seemed to be cruising to victory with little or no resistance left from the home team, except for a flurry of substitutions and timeouts from the coach.  What then followed was the most astonishing five minutes of volleyball I have every seen.  Rearranging the deckchairs as he was, I’m sure even the coach was surprised when one of them exploded!  Jastrzebski went on a run of points inspired by Brazilian opposite Pedro Azenha (on the court for Igor Yudin) who got five!! blocks in half a set.  All of them were different, all of them were BIG and each of them get the crowd more and more animated.  It was absolutely incredible.  Belchatow’s lead vanished amid another flurry of timeouts and substitutions and suddenly out of nowhere, they trailed 18-21.  Jastrzebski held on, with some nervous moments at the end, to win the set and to everyone’s surprise take a 2-1 lead.

The fourth set played out like I expected the third set.  The effort of coming back in the third took a lot of energy and despite the best efforts of the crowd, Belchatow were too strong.  Jastrzebski showed their spirit and gave the crowd hope by finishing the set strongly (Belchatow led 21-11 at one stage) and the stage was set for a final showdown.

And so it came to the fifth.  After many changes of personnel throughout the match both teams sent their starters back on the court and gathered what remained of their energy to play the set that would (potentially) decide the championships.    The set began with the best quality volleyball seen since the beginning of game 3 and when Igor Yudin ace gave Jastrzebski a 6-4 lead 2500 spectators dreamt of a fifth match on Friday.  But at that moment the champions, led by setter Falasca and outside hitter Winiarski settled one more time and for the first time in a month, covering the whole playoffs, Jastrzebski were ran out of time to fight back.  After four matches and 17 sets over six days and every ounce of energy and experience at their disposal, Belchatow won their six title in a row and Jastrzebski had to settle for silver.

It was a great finals series.  Both sides really gave everything.  And then it was over.

The stats for the final match are here.

Galleries for the match are here and here.

Poland, Greece, Russia Finals

There was a sea of orange in the Jastrzebie Ice Palace last night to see the third match of the Polish Finals between Jastrzebski Wegiel and Belchatow (here).  3000 fans packed into the stadium to see if the home team could take a lead in the series that stood at 1-1 before the game.  The atmosphere was fantastic as the crowd screamed each players name during introductions and I wouldn’t be surprised if the ice under the temporary volleyball floor melted from the heat and energy of the fans.  The game started at a really high level, with great defence and transition attack.  They looked like two teams that knew what each other would do at every moment, and how to counter it.  At the first technical timeout Jastrzebski held a small advantage and the crowd was primed.  Unfortunately for most of the rest of the match they saw a Belchatow team slowly find the rhythm they had been missing in the home matches and draw away.  That is until the very end of the third set when aces to Ben Hardy and Patryk Czarnowski helped peg back deficits of 17-21 and 21-24 to level the score at 24-24.  The crowd was really rocking at that moment and I had the feeling that anything was possible despite Belchatow having dominated the match.  But that is the thing about sport.  It picks us up and gives us a peek at the prize before quietly chuckling as it takes it out of view again.  The collective groan as the last reception sat on top of the net for the Belchatow middle to kill was a gut wrenching moment.  The stats for the game are here, but they don’t make great reading for Jastrzebie/Australian fans.

Jastzebski have only a few hours to bounce back with game 4 being tonight.  It should be another packed house and hopefully a different result.

In Greece, it was also an emotional game 3 (although it’s never any other way in Greece) as Olympiakos came back from a 1-2 deficit to win in the tie break away from home and move to within one step of the title.  The battle of the opposites must be fascinating to watch live.  Last night Agamez again outscored Miljkovic by 1 point – 36-35.  Both are scoring at a percentage of close to 60, but Miljkovic seems to be scoring just a few more blocks and aces and perhaps is giving just that little bit more to his team.  But you can never tell just from the stats.  With the collective emotion of all Panathinaikos-Olympiakos matches and the next game being possibly decisive for the championship, no amount of money in the world could entice me to be in the gym for game 4.  That’s a complete lie.

In Russia, Kazan won 3-0 again in game 2 against Lokomotiv Belgorod.  They remain unbeaten in the playoffs, with their 5th straight 3-0 victory.  All the sets were under 21 and they are probably the favourites to win the championship from here.    The stats for game 2 are here.