Tag Archives: Volleyball Coaching Philosophy

I Am Right About Timeouts

Over the last year or so I have studied and written quite a bit on the topic of timeouts.  You can read all of the posts I have written (in English and in Polish) by following this link.

The upshot of all of the research I have done with Ben Raymond is that timeouts do not seem to work in the way that we (coaches, fans, administrators) like to think that they do, that is they have no impact on the game.

An American researcher, studying USA college matches and looking at over 5,000 timeouts found eerily similar results.  They are summarised in the infogram below.

ho-phi-huynh-summary

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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The Coaching Is Not In The Interventions

There is a common quote applying to music that I first heard in a Phil Jackson book but have heard in varying forms many times since,

“Music is the space between the notes.”

The quote has been attributed among others to Claude Debussy, and it always makes me think about things like the interactions and relationships in the playing of whatever game is being talked about at the time.  A few days ago I read something that made me think of this idea directly in relation to coaching.

Most people think of coaching as being what the coach does during the game, the timeouts, the substitutions or if we want to go into real ‘depth’, the starting rotation.  Some smarter people understand that what happens in practice is equally important, the drills done, the feedback given, the time taken, the conduct of practice.

The moment I had was when it occurred to me that all of those things are interventions.  The notes, if you will.  But just as music is not in the notes, the coaching is not in the interventions.  The coaching is in the timing of the interventions.  It is choosing the moment when the feedback will have the greatest impact.  It is not giving any verbal feedback at all but allowing the player or team to learn the lesson by themselves.  It is allowing the errors that lead to learning.  It is not jumping up and down on the sideline berating players or the referee but trusting the team to carry out the vision of the game you have taught them in practice.

In short, the coaching is not in the interventions. The coaching is in the space between the interventions.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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Do Not Judge It, Solve It

One of the key inspirations behind the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project is Julio Velasco.  By any measure, Julio Velasco is one of the best, most innovative, most important volleyball coaches in history. Every time you watch volleyball, the game that you see is (partly) his product.  His influence on the game is profound.

But the reason he is such an inspiration for the project, is that while most volleyball people know his name and know that he is one of the most famous coaches in the world, outside the Italian / Spanish speaking world they have no idea about his actual teachings or philosophies or methodologies; the things that made his influence so profound.  The same applies to many other great, unknown volleyball coaches.

The goal of the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project is to make that knowledge more widely known and understood.

As an example, below are two clips from presentations Velasco made that have been subtitled into English.  Just as a taste.  They are great.

Klucz do siatkówki

Artykuł przetłumaczony na język polski przez Zuzannę Dulnik.

Originalne po Angielsku jest tutaj.

Ludzie często odnoszą się do siatkówki jako do technicznej gry. To znaczy drużyna z najlepszym poziomem technicznym to drużyna, która najprawdopodobniej wygra. Inni mówią, że największa drużyna to drużyna, która najprawdopodobniej wygra. Osobiście nie zgadzam się z żadną z tych teorii. Najprościej mówiąc, kluczem do siatkówki są interakcje.

Interakcje są widoczne gdziekolwiek spojrzysz i są one (prawie zawsze) decydujące.

Interakcje występują pomiędzy zawodnikami, pomiędzy trenerami i pomiędzy trenerami i zawodnikami.

Interakcje występują pomiędzy trzema kontaktami z piłką po każdej stronie siatki.

Interakcje wystepują pomiędzy fazami gry, od fazy przyjęcia do fazy zdobycia punktu, od fazy ofensywnej do defensywy do fazy ofensywnej.

Interkacje występują pomiędzy wszystkimi wyżej wymienionymi: zawodnikami, kontaktami z piłką i fazami gry.

Ostateczny potencjał drużyny tkwi w optymalizacji wszystkich tych interakcji.

To jest gra w siatkówkę.

Ta sama zasada dotyczy treningu. Tak jak interakcje pomiędzy osobistymi, technicznymi i taktycznymi elementami decyduje o jakości gry, tak samo interakcje pomiędzy różnymi elementami treningu decydują o jakości programu treningowego. Jak renomowany trener od przygotowania fizycznego Vern Gambetta mówi:

“W przypadku wydajności, esencją są połączenia, nie izolacja. Zatem trening powinien to odzwierciedlać i skupić się synergiach i połęczeniach mięśni.“

Klucz do wydajności tkwi w interakcjach. Izolowanie sprawia, że czujesz się lepiej jako trener, ale łączenie sprawia, że stajesz się lepszy.

The Key To Volleyball

People often refer to volleyball as a technical game and the team with the best technical level is the team most likely to win.  Others say that volleyball is physical game and the biggest team is the team most likely to win.  I agree that you need to have a very good technical level and I agree that you need good size and athleticism.  But as a rule I do not agree with either thesis.  Simply put, the key to volleyball is interactions.  Interactions are evident everywhere you look and they are (nearly always) decisive.

There are interactions between the players, between the coaches and between the players and coaches.

There are interactions between the three contacts on each side of the net.

There are interactions between the phases of play,the sideout phase to the point scoring phase, the offensive to the defensive to the offensive phases.

There are interactions between all of the above; the players, the contacts and the phases.

The ultimate potential of the team lies in optimising all of these interactions.

That is the game of volleyball.

The same principle applies to practice. Just as the interactions between different personal, technical and tactical elements determines the quality of game play, the interaction between different training elements determines the quality of the training program.  As renowned conditioning coach Vern Gambetta says:

“In performance the essence is linkage and connections, not isolation. Therefore the training should reflect this and focus on muscle synergies and connections.”

The key to performance lies in the interactions.  Isolating makes you feel better about yourself as a coach, but combining makes you better.

Hands v. Feet

I am fairly confident you already know where I stand on this issue.  If you don’t, you can catch up here, or here.  But this is it in a nutshell.

With your feet, you can save plays.

With your hands, you can make plays.

I’d like to say that this is my last word on the topic.  Somehow I doubt it 😀 😀