Tag Archives: Music And Sport

Dave Grohl’s Advice For Coaches

I have written before of my appreciation for the eternal wisdom of Dave Grohl. Indeed my life motto is ‘Everyone should love something as much as Dave Grohl loves music’. What I did not know was that Dave actually prepared a list of the 10 most important pieces of advice for coaching*.  I can’t put it any better than him.

1. You Have to Be Great
“If you’re good at what you do, people will recognize that. I really believe it.

2. Figure It Out
“If you’re focused and passionate and driven, you can achieve anything you want in life. I honestly believe that. Because you’ll fuckin’ figure it out.”

3. Chase Your Dreams

4. Don’t Lose Your Personality

5. Experiment

6. Do Your Own Thing
“The most important thing is that whatever you’re doing, it’s a representation of your voice. Whatever it is, the most important thing is that it’s your voice, that it’s coming from you.”

7. Find Balance

8. Just Do It
“There should be no right or wrong. You should be cool with what you do…”

9. Cherish Your Voice
“It’s your voice. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it’s fucking gone. Because everyone is blessed with at least that, and who knows how long it will last.”

10. Love What You Do
“People can talk about the good ol’ days. Well, fuck that, man. This is fuckin’ great! I don’t know how to do anything else. This is it.”


  • He didn’t really. Someone else pieced together a list of 10 important things for success from different interviews he has done and I have (slightly) edited it for coaching.  The article is here and the original video is below.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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How To Play Volleyball : By Soundgarden

I have long held the belief that there are parallels between playing music in a band and playing volleyball in a team (and I have written about it here and here).  Musicians often speak of the feeling of unity they can sometimes achieve, often when playing with particular musicians.  While I am not a musician, the description matches some playing and coaching experiences I have had and seems to mirror many of the concepts that Phil Jackson writes about.  Yesterday I came across this quote from Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd.

“When playing music, listening is more important than actually playing. When the band communicates we’re actually all listening to each other and then applying it when we play.”

There are two things that instantly jump out at me. The first is the idea of ‘listening’ to his band members.  This parallels being aware of the movements and actions of teammates, that obviously goes beyond the basic team structure and organisation.  A player who is ‘listening’ to his teammate is aware of the movements and the positions the player reaches as he responds to each game situation.  If you have ‘listened’ to your teammate you know where he is and in what timing and  you can play with him beyond the basic structure.  This is evidently mostly in transition situations where positions are less predictable.  When I think about this idea, I imagine the French team playing volleyball.

The second point that jumps out at me is how he uses the word ‘communicates’.  He is not talking about words that are spoken in the group.  Communication is two sided, and in this usage Shepherd is emphasising that communication is both how you listen AND how you then react.  And only when you can do both at a high level can you reach the very highest level of group (team) play.

As always, the lesson is that high volleyball is not technical.  It is about the level of interaction within a group.

Here is Soundgarden… and France.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.Cover v2

How To Be A Great Coach

Dave Grohl is the most inspirational human being alive.

I don’t think that is in question.

It is not a matter of whether or not he makes good music and even less about having been a member of Nirvana.  His inspirational qualities lie in his completely unselfconscious love of music, which informs everything that he does.  And what it shows us is the importance of loving something.  When you love something as much as Dave Grohl loves music, everything is possible.

So when the question came up on the Volleyball Coaches and Trainers facebook page that made be think about what it takes to be a great coach, it was only natural to me that I look to Dave for inspiration.  The obvious answer is you have to love volleyball.  If you don’t love volleyball you can never be great coach.  For one thing, you will never be motivated enough to do the work that you have to do.  But there must be more so I settled on a quote from the Foo Fighters song ‘Congregation’**.

“You need blind faith, but no false hope.”

Somehow this idea resonated with me.  It implies that the secret of success is the exactly correct mix of persistence and realism.  So I adapted that concept for coaches, with two variations.

  • You need utter confidence in your coaching principles and methodology, but be unrelenting in your challenging of them.
  • You need complete confidence in your coaching ability, but continually and ruthlessly question yourself.

I think mastering those ideas will take you a long way towards being a great coach.  As long you love volleyball.

Personally, I also like the song.


** It is important to note the quote is not directly from Dave but from music producer Tony Brown during the HBO documentary series ‘Sonic Highways’. An ode, if you will, to Dave’s love of music.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Music And Sport

… or probably more accurately, ‘Bands And Teams’.

I love music.

… or probably more accurately, I love the idea of music.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the music.  But maybe even more than the music itself, I love how the music came to be.  I love the stories of being immersed in music and of musicians describing the feeling of being in a great band.  Or of being in a great scene.  I love documentaries like Malfunkshun and Pearl Jam Twenty and It Might Get Loud and books like Grunge Is Dead and It’s So Easy.  Somehow I equate the ultimate feeling of creating music with the feeling of playing a great game.  I know that I’ve had the feeling on a few occasions where my team has played perfectly and or I’ve played with beach volleyball partners or teammates where understanding and trust was at the same (I guess) implicit level.  But somehow the example of a great band seems like a utopian ideal for a volleyball team.

Flea from Red Hot Chilli Peppers is always good for a quote about that feeling of great music, and recently he appeared on prominent ESPN / Grantland.com columnist Bill Simmons‘ podcast.  He talks about things coming together at particular times in a way that you can’t control.  At about the 27:30 minute mark of part 2 of the podcast he describes the process one has to go through to be ready for those moments that you can’t control.

‘You have to always be doing your exercises, staying technically on top of your instrument, be working on becoming a better songwriter… to be as good a musician as you can be, so when those things you can’t control come along … you’re ready. … You have to stay on top of you craft and keep yourself sharp so when the cosmic meatball hits, you’re ready to party’   

Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds quite a lot like deliberate practice.

I doubt if you could slip the description ‘cosmic meatball’ into a peer reviewed article though.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.Cover v2