Tag Archives: Volleyball

Coaching Tip Of The Week #20 (Bonus Edition)


It's my fault (1)

“It’s my fault”

Those are the three hardest words for a coach to say, but perhaps the most important.  It is hard to say those words for two very good reasons.  Firstly, it is almost never true.  There is always plenty of fault to go around.  Secondly, you can be pretty sure that everyone else is saying that it is your fault, so the first instinct is to defend yourself and lay the fault at the feet of others.

I am not advocating that you stand in front of the collected press / management / fans / parents and admit to being at fault.  At least not often if you want to keep your job.  However, if you can manage to utter those three words, to yourself, in front of the mirror perhaps, you can find it an incredibly liberating, if challenging experience.

By taking responsibility for everything that happens in your team, you also give yourself the power to change it.  If you accept responsibility for the quality of practice, you will search for ways to improve it.  If you accept responsibility for the quality of your players’ skills, you will search for new teaching methods.  If you accept responsibility for the tactical faults of your team, you will search for new and more effective tactics.

Taking responsibility for everything that happens in your team, drives innovation and leads to personal and team development.  It is hard to look into that mirror, but worthwhile.

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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Coaching Tip Of The Week #19


“Every season is different”

It seems like an obvious thing to say, but sometimes it is the obvious things that we need to be reminded about.  Even if the individual members of the team remain the same those individuals change over time, as their goals and motivations and priorities are constantly evolving.  And if the twelve individuals in the team have changed since last season then the team is a new team.

For the coach that means nothing can be taken for granted from season to season.  Each season the team must be built from scratch.  All areas of the work of the team from rules to expectations and goals to tactical and technical goals to team building must be covered every season.  If the changes to the team are minor, then some areas can be covered quickly and the team can move on to the next one fast.  But making assumptions about anything to do with a team from one season to the next is a fraught with danger.

Take nothing for granted.

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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Suggerimento della settimana #2

Più i giocatori sono stanchi, più bisognerebbe aumentare l’intensità dell’allenamento

Qunado i giocatori sono stanchi, la prima cosa che pensano è quanto sono stanchi. Più tempo hanno per pensare, più dicono a se stessi e ai compagni quanto sono stanchi.

Gli esercizi che richiedono apprendimento, prendono un sacco di energia mentale. I giocatori stanchi utilizzano un sacco di energia mentale per dire a se stessi e ai compagni, quanto sono stanchi.

Questo non significa che i giocatori non sono motivati o non vogliono lavorare, oppure ancora non vogliono migliorare. Significa semplicemente che tu devi adattare l’allenamento allo stato fisico e mentale corrente dei tuoi giocatori.

Se i giocatori non hanno tempo per pensare, non hanno tempo per rimuginare sui loro problemi. Riduci i tempi tra un’azione e l’altra. Ad esempio, proponi esercizi con ripetizioni multiple da ripetere entro un breve lasso di tempo.

La competizione motiva sempre. Non finirò mai di stupirmi davanti a uomini adulti che si  trascinano -letteralmente e metaforicamente-  sul campo nel momento in cui fai fare un gioco stupido, solo perchè c’è di mezzo la competizione.

Se la squadra è stanca, aggiungi un’altra palla o cambia il gioco e vedrai che i giocatori in questo modo saranno sempre capaci di trovare un altro po’ di energia.

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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Check Your Data Volley Files

Now that the season is under way a lot of people are spending far more hours than is healthy sitting in front  of their computers frantically working away entering their matches into Data Volley.  I am personally a big fan of the software and can proudly say I have been using it for twenty years now.  As much as I have used and loved and won countless matches because of it, there is one small flaw in the program that is continually annoying.  The ‘Validate File’ command is woefully inadequate and finds only the very biggest errors in a scouted file.

For those who have similar feelings, Ben Raymond (my ‘Timeouts’ co-conspirator) has developed a simple validation tool that have saved me countless hours of trolling through dvw files trying to find out why my statistics don’t add up.  It is a web based app, online now at the url https://untangl.shinyapps.io/dvalidate/

Simply upload your file onto the front page and within seconds you will have a report that identifies all (so far) of the common errors that ‘CTRL V’ does not.  For example, it will spot substitution errors, false scores, backrow players spiking in the frontrow, rotation errors and many other.  Below are screenshots of the uploading page and an example of an error report.

Enjoy and hopefully you’ll get more time to spend with your families 🙂


French Reception Technique – Part 2 Scott Touzinsky

I had the (mostly 😉 ) pleasure of coaching Scott Touzinsky for the best part of seven seasons in three different clubs and countries.  Scott’s best volleyball skill was his mastery of the backcourt, encompassing both reception and defence.  His preparation, positioning and control in both phases were exceptional.  For the last season we were together, I knew that it would be his last season and I promised myself that before the season finished I would take some close up video during practice that I could use.  Sadly, injury meant that Scott didn’t finish the season and I hadn’t got around to taking the video that I had planned to.

But… going through my old folders, I did happen to find a bit of footage that I could edit into about one minute of Scott Touzinsky reception.  The key points for me are:

  1. Very early preparation
  2. Minimal movement before contact
  3. Great platform control
  4. Balanced at the point of contact, with any movements after contact instead of before, including a cross step

This last point is a very interesting point.  I wrote a while ago about the reception technique espoused by French National Team coach Laurent Tillie.  When I originally posted his description there was a lot of consternation on the VCT Facebook page, as there was during the clinic when Tillie made his explanation.  A particular point of debate / discussion / anger was the cross step taken by the receiver after contact.  The only thing I can say to add to the conversation is that Scott Touzinsky is the best receiver I have worked with, and copying his technique would seem to be an excellent place to start being a great receiver.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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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 #7

“The first time you do anything it is terrible”

When you start a weight training program, you have a period at the beginning that during which improvement is very fast.  Sadly this is not due to improved strength, but due to learning the how to perform the movement correctly.  It is known as the Learning Effect.  Only after the Learning Effect has taken place do you start to see the improvements that are caused by muscle adaptation through the weights program.

That same concept can be seen in other areas in the training environment.  For example, any new drill that the coach tries in practice has a period in which the players and team are learning how the drill works.  At some point performance off the drill improves significantly.  This is not actual skill development, but a Learning Effect.  And it is important to note that before the Learning Effect performance is terrible.  The same applies with warm up or small sided games.  Any time the coach introduces a new game, before the Learning Effect takes place performance is terrible.

The lesson is, the first time you do anything in practice, don’t expect performance to be excellent.  Relax and let the players work out how to do the drill.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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