Being open to letting other coaches see you work

There’s an interesting book titled Living on the Volcano: The Secrets of Surviving as a Football Manager, written by Michael Calvin. Obviously, it’s about soccer managers. Specifically, it has about 20 chapters, each of which features a specific manager. They come from all different levels of the professional ranks in England. It’s not an interview book, like Volleyball Coaching Wizards. Rather, it’s a series of profiles that feature some interview excerpts.

In one chapter the subject manager talks about the attitude he sees among his peers with respect to allowing others to come to your practice and observe.

‘One, you’d never invite a stranger in. Two, there’s nobody who’s actually suited to that role anyway. You can’t go to a competitor. You’ve got your courses and occasionally you’re lucky enough to get a Premier League manager who will allow you to come in, but even that’s getting more difficult now, unless you’re out of work.’

Basically, what he says is that he’d never consider inviting a manager he doesn’t already know into one of his training sessions. On top of that, no one would ever let a competitor on their training ground. No doubt you can figure out the reasons for that.

It is worth noting that this manager said former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was an exception. He was happy to have others come watch him at work. Though he did suggest Ferguson had an ulterior motive. He wanted to keep an eye on up and coming coaches.

What if Ferguson’s motives were not actually so selfish as suggested. What if he was just happy to help the learning process for developing managers. Could it be that his mentality is actually part of what made him great?

Our experience interviewing great volleyball coaches says it might very well be that last part. A willingness to share ideas, and to allow other coaches in their gym is a feature of our Wizards. They are happy to share, and even encourage less-experienced coaches to seek them out, to come visit them. Of course they also often share what they know via clinics and conference presentations and the like.

Why are they so open?

Clearly, part of it is an interest in giving back to the coaching community. All of them were once new coaches in their own right. They know what it’s like.

There’s also the feedback mechanism. While many visitors will just write down drills and games, and maybe ask a few questions, others will go deeper. They will challenge the coach to be able to explain their choices and justify their actions – maybe even encouraging change and adaptation. It’s part of the process of review and continuous improvement.

But what about other coaches “stealing” your ideas?

First of all, how many truly unique ideas exist in coaching? Pretty close to zero. Further, just because someone sees what you do in your gym, it doesn’t mean they can replicate that in theirs. We all have unique situations.

So, be open to allowing others in your gym and don’t be shy about asking to go visit others.

Interview: Stephen Pierce

Date: March 31, 2017

Download the audio file (right click and “Save As…” / 67mb – 1:37:58)

The one book mentioned in the interview was Coaching Volleyball Successfully by Sally Kus.

What did you think?

We’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, etc. What did you find most interesting or surprising? What was something that could influence your own coaching? What additional question(s) would you like to hear Stephen answer?

Just fill out the comment box below.

Podcast Episode 32: Killing the Player Inside

In our interview with Glenn Hoag, he shared a comment from legendary coach Julio Velasco. It was that in order to truly be successful a coach must kill the player inside of him. This episode of the podcast explores that comment and its implications for your mentality as a coach. During the discussion we mention the conversation from the Peggy Martin podcast. That’s the one talking about coaching players as they are.

Feedback, questions, comments, etc. are always welcome!

A review of the Wizards book from Down Under

An Australian reader of the first Volleyball Coaching Wizards book sent us an email to share his thoughts.

I’ve read both of Jack Schwager’s books, and so immediately related to the concept.

I’m only two chapters into it, but I absolutely love it so far, particularly the chapter with Giovanni Guidetti. I especially like the section about Jamie Morrison (former assistant coach to Karch Kiraly), where Giovanni deliberately runs a drill he knows he will disagree with to start a healthy debate. I work in the completely opposite environment in my day job, I would love to have a boss like that.

As a young graduate engineer, one of my first managers told me that I was very “black and white” and that the world is in fact many shades of grey. The older I’ve gotten, the more I relate to this statement, and that’s why Giovanni’s acceptance of this concept resonated with me so much.

I also personally appreciated the point you made about using punishments in training, and how it stifles creativity and focuses the player only on avoiding errors. I was torn over the concept of punishments at the start of last season, however my wife, who is a neuropsychologist, was dead against them, with the psychological research heavily supporting reward rather than punishment. I adopted a philosophy of patience and rewarding positive behaviours and thoroughly enjoyed the performance and culture that arose from it.

I look forward to the insights that I will find in the remaining chapters. I commend you for getting this book out there. I’ve written a short kindle book, and I appreciate that it’s a passion more so than a means to make a living.

The Jack Schwager books he mentioned are Market Wizards and The New Market Wizards. They were a big part of the inspiration for the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project. Glad to hear the volleyball version does indeed follow along with the Schwager version’s concept.

Podcast Episode 31: Observations from the 2016 AVCA Convention

First of all, if you have not already seen our In Memorial post about the passing of Wizard Carl McGown, please check it out. We are making the text of Carl’s interview freely available. Be sure to pass it around to your friends and colleagues. The whole volleyball coaching community should be aware of Carl’s influence and impact on volleyball training and player development.

Now back to the podcast. In mid-December, John attended the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) annual convention. He presented a session about the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project, which he talks a bit about in this episode. John also attended a number of other sessions. We will probably talk about some of those in future podcasts, but in this episode the focus is on some stuff USA Men’s National Team coach John Speraw discussed in his presentations.

Feedback, questions, comments, etc. are always welcome!

In Memorial of Carl McGown

Carl McGown

The volleyball world has lost one of it’s leading lights.

Carl McGown is without doubt one of the most influential individuals the sport has ever known. In terms of his philosophy of coaching, there are those who agree and those who don’t. No one, though, can deny his impact on coaching.

Carl was a leading force in introducing and spreading the idea of specificity of training in volleyball. Those efforts have been instrumental in shifting the training in many gyms from primarily block in focus to the adaptation of more game-like activities. The concept of “the game teaches the game” so often mentioned these day comes straight out of Carl’s teachings.

We could write a whole article on Carl’s history in the game and all the different coaches he influenced along the way. There are plenty of others much better positioned to do so, however. He left a mark on a great many. We leave it to them to share their memories.

What we can do, though, is share Carl’s own thoughts and sense of history. He was one of our early interviews, and his is the first in the initial Volleyball Coaching Wizards book. We posted a trio of excerpts from the interview audio on YouTube as well.

In memorial to Carl’s life and impact, though, we want to share the full text of his interview. Get your PDF version of it here. The document runs 24 pages in total.

Enjoy, and feel free to share it with your coaching friends and colleagues.

 

Volleyball Coaching Wizards at the 2016 AVCA Convention

American Volleyball Coaching AssociationLast week, in conjunction with the NCAA Division I semifinals and final, was the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) annual Convention. It was an important event for the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project on multiple levels.

First, several Wizards attended the event. Tom Turco and Ruth Nelson – both featured in the first Wizard book – were convention attendees. Mick Haley and Tod Mattox were also there. Among the folks presenting sessions were Wizards Terry Pettit, John Corbelli, Bill Neville, and Sue Gozansky.

Guidetti’s Adventure

Giovanni Guidetti, whose interview is also in the first Wizard book, was a prominent presenter. He was part of the pre-convention program, which focused on takeaways from the 2016 Olympics. Unfortunately, his travel schedule forced his contribution to be done two days after the others. That was Friday. Giovanni gave a 15-minute talk about why he coaches to start the day. He then did his pre-convention session.

Things got a little crazy after that!

Flight schedules for his return trip to his club team in Turkey were fluid. Giovanni was scheduled to start back Friday afternoon, but the first leg of the trip got moved up for some reason. That saw the AVCA organizers say they needed to get him to the airport, This meant he could not do his last schedule session – and on-court one about blocking and defense training. Giovanni nixed that plan, though. He told them he would push his return trip back to Saturday. He wanted to get that last session in. That’s exactly what happened.

This, of course, caused confusion. The organizers had sent out a message to attendees already saying the session was cancelled. Despite that, it ended up being standing room only around the court as he presented.

It should be noted that his trip to the Convention forced Giovanni to miss coaching his Vakifbank team in the CEV Champions League. That was not the original plan, but apparently the match was moved for TV.

Wizards Presentation

The Convention was also the first time Volleyball Coaching Wizards was presented. John did a Friday session titled “Lessons Learned from Volleyball’s Wizard Coaches”. Mark was not available as he had a full coaching schedule, including a Polish league match that same evening.

The main focus of the session was to share some of the areas of overlap among the Wizard interviews, as well as some places where they disagree. As you can see, it was a pretty good audience. As usual, folks avoided the first few rows. :-)

Volleyball Coaching Wizards presentation at the 2016 AVCA Convention

The AVCA volunteer running the room gave John an estimate of 233 attendees. That is not too bad considering the All-American awards luncheon happened at the same time. And no one left until the Q&A section started. Even then, it was only a couple of people. They must have thought it was pretty good stuff!

At the start of the session John asked how many people knew about Volleyball Coaching Wizards and/or had read the book. Only a handful of hands went up. That was surprising from the perspective of thinking that people who knew about the project would seem to have been more likely to attend. It was great, though, that we could expose a whole big bunch of folks to what we’re doing.

Book Wizards Tom Turco and Ruth Nelson were in the crowd. So too was Tod Mattox. Tod actually helped answer one of the questions asked.

In one of the more interesting developments, the AVCA volunteer told John after the session that he was making the book required reading for the management class he taught. He thought the thinking of the Wizards about leading people and organizations would be very useful. Cool! We hadn’t really thought about things that way.

The AVCA said the recording of the session will be available on its website about 3-4 weeks after the event.