Podcast Episode 18: Coaching the players as they are with Peggy Martin

One of the struggles we can face as coaches is having to work with players who have motivations different than our own. In some cases it’s because they are different types of players than we were. In other cases it’s because they are in the sport for different reasons. In this episode of the podcast we start with Peggy Martin sharing her experience of learning to coach players as they are, not as we wished they were.

Peggy Martin has over 40 years of college coaching experience, primarily at the NCAA Division II level. She’s accumulated more than 1200 career victories and has won more than 20 league titles. Her Central Missouri teams made 25 straight trips to the NCAA tournament, reaching six Elite 8s and a national championship match. Peggy has been named Coach of the Year 22 times, including earning NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year honors in 1987. She is a member of the AVCA Hall of Fame.

A little discussion of blocked vs. random training came into this discussion, following on the subject of Episode 17.

Vital Heynen’s interview came up again in terms of having a coaching style contrary to his prior experience of coaching as a player. Along the same lines, Stelio DeRocco came up in terms of having prior playing experience being useful in understanding player motivation.

We also referenced the characteristics of a great setter episode with respect to showing a lack of doubt to the team.

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

Podcast Episode 17: Better results from random training with Tom Tait

The benefits to be had from incorporating more random or distributed (game-like) training in your practices as opposed to the old-school block style of training (basic repetitive skill execution) are often discussed in coaching circles these days. In this episode of the podcast Tom Tait, who knows a thing or two about skill acquisition, talks about how you can still do skill coaching in a game-like environment and how we need to allow our players to develop their athleticism in that way.

Tom Tait is basically the father of Penn State Volleyball. He was the first coach for both the men’s and women’s teams, having handed the latter off to Russ Rose. He developed the men’s program into a consistent NCAA championship contender before eventually also handing that off. Since then he’s been focused on coaching education, working with the US national team program, and continuing his work as a professor at Penn State.

In the discussion a graph is mentioned which shows why random training is superior to the block alternative, based on scientific research. Here it is:

This was presented at the USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Clinic in 2015. John was there and shared what was discussed in Going beyond maximizing reps.

We also referenced the desirability of being as efficient as possible in our practice planning and implementation. That was talked about in the Jan De Brandt episode.

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

Podcast Episode 16: The characteristics of great setters with Bill Neville

When it comes to the history of the game, few can beat Bill Neville’s experience and knowledge. In this episode of the podcast he shares his favorite setter of all time, Katsutoshi Nekoda, and what characteristics made him so good. Nekoda was the setter of the Japanese team which in the 1960s revolutionized the sport by introducing multi-tempo sets.

Bill Neville has been a fixture for USA Volleyball for decades. He was on the coaching staff when the men won Olympic gold in 1984, has been Technical Director, and National Commissioner of Coaching Education. In the latter role he lead the development of the Coaches Accreditation Program (CAP). Bill coached the Canadian national team in the 1976 Olympics, and also spent over 15 years coaching NCAA Division I women’s volleyball. He authored the book Coaching Volleyball Successfully.

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

Podcast Episode 15: Coaching your best players with Joel Dearing

It is often the case that we, as coaches (and teachers), either coach to the middle of our squad or focus more attention on the weaker players to try to bring them up to everyone else’s level. From the perspective of maximizing gains, this can make sense. As Wizard Joel Dearing points out, though, we cannot ignore the best players in the team along the way. That is the focus of this episode.

Joel Dearing coached at NCAA Division III Springfield College for 30 years and accumulated over 700 wins. That’s good enough for a Top-10 standing in the record books. He mainly coached the women at Springfield, but also coached the men for seven seasons, and in his last had the team end the year ranked #1. Joel was five times selected AVCA Regional Coach of the Year and coached 10 All-Americans. He is a member of the board at the Volleyball Hall of Fame, a long-time part of the USA Volleyball Coaches Accreditation Program (CAP) cadre, and author of the books Volleyball Fundamentals and The Untold Story of William G. Morgan – Inventor of Volleyball.

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

Podcast Episode 14: Talking to the team after the match with Tom Turco

Pre- and post-match team talks have long been the subject of interest and attention, both by those involved in them (players and coaches) and those observing from outside. In this episode our conversation focuses on post-match talks, especially following a loss. It begin with the thoughts of Wizard Tom Turco.

Tom Turco has won 17 state high school championships in Massachusetts, where he has coached for over 30 years. His teams won a record 110 straight matches between 2003 and 2007. Tom was selected as the AVCA National Coach of the Year in 2008 and the NHSCA National Volleyball Coach of the Year in 2012.

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

Podcast Episode 13: Breaking the game in to parts, with Mike Lingenfelter

In volleyball, as in life, it is often beneficial to break things down in to smaller, more manageable chunks. Mike Lingenfelter talked about this in his Wizards interview, sharing his “High 5” concept of providing his team with five progressive objectives for each set. That idea is the focus of this episode of the podcast.

Mike Lingenfelter is the co-director of the Munciana Juniors volleyball club and coach of its 18s Samurai team. After his own playing career, he started his coaching at the college level, but eventually found his niche in the juniors age group where his teams have won four national championships, were national runner-ups an additional four times, and earned three third place finishes. His high school teams won three Indiana state championships and he was selected Indiana state high school Coach of the Year three times. Mike is a regular coaching presenter and clinician.

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

Podcast Episode 12: Coaching to the performance, with Joel Dearing

When it comes to your coaching during matches, do you coach based on the score line or based on the performance of the team? Joel Dearing, in his Wizards interview, suggests you should be focused on the team’s performance as the score will then take care of itself. This is the starting point of our discussion in this episode of the podcast.

Joel Dearing coached at NCAA Division III Springfield College for 30 years and accumulated over 700 wins. That’s good enough for a Top-10 standing in the record books. He mainly coached the women at Springfield, but also coached the men for seven seasons, and in his last had the team end the year ranked #1. Joel was five times selected AVCA Regional Coach of the Year and coached 10 All-Americans. He is a member of the board at the Volleyball Hall of Fame, a long-time part of the USA Volleyball Coaches Accreditation Program (CAP) cadre, and author of the books Volleyball Fundamentals and The Untold Story of William G. Morgan – Inventor of Volleyball.

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

Podcast Episode 11: Keeping things simple, with Anders Kristiansson

There have been a lot of things taught to volleyball players over the years, especially when it comes to body position in the ready phase of play. Much of it, though, has seen players put into uncomfortable positions where they struggle to move efficiently. Often this lead them to “revert” back to old habits, which usually means comfortable body posters and motions.

This episode of the podcast focuses on that, not from the perspective of how to make these things permanent, but rather in terms of the desirability of avoiding burdening players with too much complexity. The focus, instead, is on making things as simple as possible.

Anders Kristiansson, who currently coaches in Japan, is a coach who influenced other top coaches. He coached teams to 26 combined men’s and women’s championships in his native Sweden, then went on to win 15 titles in Belgium and 3 more in Greece. His teams played in four CEV Champions League Final 4s and twice reached the final. Anders also coached the Swedish national team during its strongest period of international performance. He lead the team to a silver medal at the 1989 European Championships, the nation’s best ever tournament finish.

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

Podcast Episode 10: Captain selection and responsibilities with Jenny McDowell

The process of selecting a captain and the responsibilities they are assigned are the subject of this episode of the podcast. Audio from the interview of Jenny McDowell in which she shares her philosophy on the subject as the starting point. We then take the discussion into the areas of the importance of the captain role in European volleyball, characteristics of a good leader, development of the captain as a leader, and more.

Jenny McDowell is the head coach at Emory University, which plays in Division III of the NCAA. She has won over 600 wins in her coaching career. Her teams have made 19 straight trips to the NCAA tournament, with four appearances in the Final Four, and a national championships. Jenny has coached 40 All-American player selections and two National Players of the Year.

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

Podcast Episode 9: Practice plan development with Jan De Brandt

In this episode of the podcast we take a look at the philosophy of developing a good training or practice plan. In his interview, Jan De Brandt expressed his view that coaches should always be looking for ways to reduce the amount of time in training through effective and efficient use of that time.

Jan De Brandt has coached professionally in Italy, Turkey, Spain, Azerbaijan, and Germany, as well has his native Belgium. He is currently the Women’s National Team Coach for Hungary, having also coached Belgium. Among his coaching accomplishments are winning the European Volleyball League, silver medal in the CEV Champions League, bronze in the CEV Cup, plus league and cup titles in Turkey. Jan started his career coaching men, but switched to women after a few years.

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