Check your coaching ego at the door

A couple of things motivated this post.

The first is a quote from the 2nd Wizards book sent to John by Jan Maier. Jan is the head coach for the Hamburg team in the German women’s 2nd division (2.Bundesliga Nord). Jan texted the following.

“They (coaches) should be judged on their impact and influence.” love that! More people should read at least that introduction.

This is part of the philosophy we express in the book with respect to coaching excellence.

The other motivator is a post by Jim Dietz, a junior college and juniors coach. Jim also has experience in the USA Volleyball High Performance program. His post includes commentary on what he sees as the arrogance of that program’s staff coaches with respect to coaching level. Here’s what he had to say (bold is Jim’s).

I got tired of hearing coaches talk about how they were unjustly assigned to a young age group or a lower skilled group–that the kids they were assigned were beneath them as a D-1 or elite club coach.  Speaking up to argue that assertion once, I was told my club isn’t known and I’m a juco coach, so my opinion counts for zero.  Yikes.  But it gets worse.  Worse is the attitude towards coaching colleagues who cannot further that coach’s march up the illusory career ladder.  Yeah, I coach at a juco…I suck.  Yeah, she’s a high school coach/teacher…if she knew anything, she’d be a 17-elite club coach, she sucks, too,…blah, blah, blah.

Jim is not the only one to express this sort of view. John has definitely heard about this kind of arrogance from others with experience in the HP program, and it’s something that turns off would-be participants. You’ll notice Jim’s use of the past tense to start the quote above, speaking exactly to that issue (If you read the post you’ll find that Jim speaks to the same type of “coaching niche” concept as that mentioned by Wizard Mike Lingenfelter in his interview).

And you know which coaches have those egos and attitudes? It’s the ones with the least justification for doing so. We’re talking about coaches with limited experience and little in the way of perspective – probably mostly younger males, to be honest. They think the level of play of their teams has anything to do with their coaching quality.

Guess what? It’s probably completely unrelated.

Returning to the quote from Jan above, how much impact and influence have these coaches had? Not very much is the answer.

Note that this isn’t just a problem with USAV High Performance, though. Anywhere you have the perception of something as a higher or more “elite” level of coaching you run the risk of this sort of mentality expressing itself. And to be fair, sometimes the perceptions of those not included add fuel to this fire. You can sometimes hear experienced, successful high school coaches acting overly deferential to college coaches just because they are college coaches. It’s foolish, but it happens.

One of the features of the great coaches we’ve interviewed is respect and humbleness. Naturally, disagreements about the finer points of coaching happen. A common theme of the Wizards interviews, though, is the sense that there is still a lot to learn, and that learning can come from all different sources. A Wizard respects other coaches, regardless of competitive level or experience. Even more, they are eager to hear what those with more or different experience from themselves have to say. Neither ego nor arrogance is a factor.

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.

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.










Note: PayPal is used to process the payment, but a PayPal account is not required.

 

Volleyball Coaching Wizard Sue Gozansky

One of the World’s Most Respected Coaching Educators

Coaches around the world know Sue Gozansky from her tireless efforts in coaching education and development. She is also author of well respected coaching books. All of this is built on a long, successful career coaching US collegiate volleyball and in a variety of international capacities.

Her resume includes:

  • Nearly 700 wins in 39 seasons coaching at UC Riverside.
  • 3 National Championships and a record 20 straight trips to the NCAA tournament.
  • Author of Championship Volleyball Techniques and Drills and Volleyball Coach’s Survival Guide
  • International coaching instructor for the FIVB and for USA Volleyball
  • AVCA Hall of Fame inductee

Here’s some of what Sue discusses in her interview:

– Developing the team concept and team-building

– Coaching career progression and growth

– Learning and sharing coaching knowledge

– Managing relationships with players

– Training planning and implementation

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

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










Note: PayPal is used to process the payment, but a PayPal account is not required.

 

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!