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.

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!

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!

Volleyball Coaching Wizard Bill Neville

Looking back and looking forward

Bill Neville is one of the most respected coaches in US volleyball coaching circles, and probably beyond as well. His long experience in the game provides him a perspective on the sport and on coaching that few can match.

His resume includes:

  • Olympic coach for both the Canadian and US national teams, including for the 1984 gold medal winning USA.
  • Over 15 years coaching NCAA Division I women’s teams.
  • USA Volleyball Technical Director
  • USA Volleyball National Commissioner of Coaching Education
  • Developer of the Coaches Accreditation Program (CAP)
  • Author of Coaching Volleyball Successfully

Here’s some of what Bill discusses in his interview:

– His favorite memory for the 1984 US Olympic team

– The qualities of a great setter

– Key factors in good coaching education

– Being an innovative coach

– How the game has developed and where it might be headed

Play this excerpt for a taste of the sort of insights and ideas you’ll get from the full interview:

Get access to Bill’s interview now for just a $14 contribution to the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project.










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Podcast Episode 6: Being a Humble Coach and Coaching Education, Ruben Wolochin

This episode of the podcasts is a continuation of our discussion from Episode 5 with Ruben Wolochin from German men’s team TV Bühl. We continue to talk about what Ruben saw and heard in the big coaching conference he attended in his native Argentina. The conversation here turns to coaching mentality and coaching education. You will hear the term “humble” used several times!

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

Podcast Episode 5: Cultural Differences in Volleyball, with Ruben Wolochin

The main underlying purpose of the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project is coaching education. This episode is the first of two based on a conversation between John and Mark and Ruben Wolochin following Ruben attending a coaching conference in his native Argentina. That conference featured some of the most accomplished and renowned of that nation’s coaches, including the likes of Julio Velasco and Daniel Castellani. In this part of the discussion the focus is on cultural differences in volleyball and coaching.

Ruben Wolochin is the head coach at German Bundesliga men’s team TV Bühl. Along with having coached in Argentina, he coached professionally in Denmark and Finland before moving to Germany.

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

Podcast Episode 3: Three Wizards on Copying What Others Do

There are some standard themes which come through from the Wizards interviews. One of them is the subject of this episode of the podcast. The subject is copying from other coaches and/or coaching gurus. Tom Tait, Iradge Ahrabi-Fard, and Giovanni Guidetti all shared their thoughts on the subject during their interviews, some of which we’ve excerpted from this show.

Actually, we apparently were going for some kind of coach name-dropping record, as at least seven different Wizards were mentioned somewhere along the way! Mark tossed in a Big Bang Theory reference as well. :-)

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.

Iradge Ahrabi-Fard is Iranian-born, but has sent the majority of his career in the US. Like Tom, he too has primarily been a university professor. His views on coaching have been widely published in both academic and coaching circles. Iradge is a member of the AVCA Hall of Fame, won over 500 NCAA Division I matches as a head coach, and consults with the USA national team program.

Giovanni Guidetti is currently the head coach of the Dutch women’s national team and of the Vakifbank club in Turkey. Internationally, he also coached for Germany and Bulgaria. At the club level, he has won two CEV Champions League titles (plus a runner-up) and has won gold and silver at the World Club Championships. In his native Italy, he was twice named Coach of the Year.

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