More big news – Pioneer Wizards

Last week we posted about looking to expand our base of interviewers to help us move this Wizards project forward. We’re still looking to hear from people who are interested in taking that on. In the meanwhile, though, we’ve had a noteworthy hand raised in response. Wizard Mick Haley has expressed interest and we’ve talked about what that could look like. It’s starting to take shape.

Pioneer Wizards

An idea dating back to the early days of the Wizards concept was to help share with people some of the sport’s history. It’s something we’ve certainly accomplished to a degree with the interviews we’ve done so far. We can take it much further, though.

The Pioneer Wizards concept is about focusing on coaches who are largely out of coaching now after lengthy careers. They might not be in position to talk much from a current coaching perspective. What they certainly can do, though, is tell us the tale of how we got to where we are today. And they can share with us their own career and personal development paths.

In other words, they can be for volleyball what the likes of John Wooden and Phil Jackson are for Basketball, or Bill Walsh and Vince Lombardi are for football. That is sources of long-lasting wisdom and insight.

We look forward to this branch of Wizards interviews developing in parallel with the Wizard Women ones already underway. Now is definitely a great time to join us on Patreon. There will be a lot of great content coming your way!

Big update #3 – Wizard Women

This is the third of the three big updates we have on the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project. The first was about our new approach to making the interviews available. The second shared our plans to expand the interviewer pool. In this one we’ve got news about a new sub-project that’s currently underway.

Of women, by women, for women

For a while now we’ve wanted to create a new series of Wizards interviews focused on women. They would be interviews of women coaches (not to be confused with coaches of women) conducted by a fellow female coach, being sure to address elements of the profession especially relevant to women in coaching.

To put it quite bluntly, John & Mark as male coaches haven’t had the same experience female coaches have had in their careers. As such, they aren’t best suited to have in-depth conversations on things from that perspective. Thus the desire to have a female interviewer.

The focus

The focus of the Women Wizards series is on role model type coaches. These are women who are still actively coaching, or perhaps only just recently retired. In other words, experienced and successful coaches that are or could be visible in action to the current generation of early-career women coaches. We want these interviews to be motivational and inspirational for them, as well as informative. Current active coaches are a bit more relatable in that regard.

This is definitely not to say retired women and/or those who have moved into more administrative roles aren’t interview candidates. We just may categorize them in a different fashion than the active ones.

Of course, as always with the project, we want broad representation. That means women from around the world and all different levels of play.

Got any recommendations? Let us know.

Our interviewer

We originally had a pair of women lined up to do the interviews, but availability became a problem. So we’ve gone in a different direction. Lauren Bertolacci has agreed to take on the project. She’s super excited for this Wizard Women series, and has already done her first interview!

Lauren is an Australian who currently coaches in Switzerland for NUC Volleyball. She played both professionally in Europe and for the Aussie national team before moving into coaching. In fact, she got her start coaching the men’s team at Volley Luzern.

Those of you who have followed John’s Coaching Conversation series may have seen Lauren in a couple of the episodes. She was on the sessions about coaching across genders and culture development.

Special Patron Tier

As reported on Update #1 of this sequence, we’ve moved to using the Patreon platform to make the interviews available. Patrons on the primary tiers will get access to every interview posted (initially at a rate of two interviews per month), including the Wizard Women ones.

We’ve decided to create separate Patreon tiers just for the Wizard Women interviews, though. Patrons in these tiers won’t have access to the other interviews, but they will have the advantage of getting the Wizard Women interviews more quickly. Their release won’t be slowed down by being mixed in with the rest of the ones in the general list.

Become a Patron!

Big update #2 – More interviewers

In the last update we talked about our new approach to making Wizards interviews available to coaches around the world. In this update the focus is on how we actually produce new interviews.

Expanding our interviewers

A major limitation to the project up to this point is John’s and Mark’s availability to conduct interviews. Scheduling, recording, and producing them are quite time intensive efforts. I can be 6-8 hours of work for each of them when you put it all together. With the increased demands on our time seen in recent years, it’s hard to be able to get them done, especially when factoring other things like developing the Wizards books.

There are so many coaches out there worth having their stories and insights shared. And more will continue to bubble up over time. We want to be able to interview as many of them as we can, and contribute their knowledge and experience to the collective coaching consciousness. In order to do so, though, we’re going to need help.

That being the case, we’re putting out an open call for additional interviewers. These could be people who happen to know a certain Wizard caliber coach, and would thus do a single interview for us. Or they could be folks interested in doing a series of interviews. Both types are equally useful to the project.

Could this be you?

Think you could be one of those people?

If you’re familiar with the project you know we have a fairly standard set of working questions we include in the interviews. They form the basic outline of the discussion. Knowledge of and/or research about the Wizard then provides additional direction.

In other words, you’d need to be able to follow a plan, but also do the work needed to customize that plan to a given interview. No two interviews ever go the same way. That’s kind of the point. If every coach was the same, we would need a project like this one.

Think you could do that? If so, contact us. Let us know what you would bring to the project.

Our third of these three updates, also relates to this additional interviewers idea.

Big update #1 – New Approach

There are some developments we need to share with you with regards to the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project. Enough that we need to use a couple of posts to do so. In this first one we’ll focus on the first part of the new approach we’re taking to things.

Using Patreon

We decided to shift our model for distributing Wizards interviews to one mainly focused on Patreon. If you’re not familiar with it, Patreon is a platform which allows people (patrons) to support content developers through small pledges.

The platform features a donation-per-creation structure which fits very well with our project and also takes a considerable administrative load off our shoulders. In other words, it will let us focus on producing content, which is the whole point of this venture.

We’re starting off with two general tiers – $2/interview and $5/interview. Both come with bonuses, which we’ll look to expand upon as me move forward. Our plan is to post 2 interviews per month on Patreon. That way the monthly cost for everyone stays low. We can talk down the road about adjusting that monthly number based on patron feedback.

The first objective

A big motivation for us to go with this dontation-per-creation mode is being able to convert the interview audio for expanded distribution. The most obvious is generating transcriptions. They aren’t massively expensive to create these days, but do take some editing after the fact. Our initial goal is to reach $150/interview in donations to pay for that. Patrons will, of course, get those transcripts as an added benefit.

The next level is translation. It would be awesome to be able to transcribe the interviews into a variety of languages. That’s even more expense, though, so first things first.

Become a patron today and help us toward those objectives.

Become a Patron!

And if you get others to become patrons as well we’ll reach our initial transcription target even faster!

Here’s our second big update, which relates to interviewers.

Wizards at Work: MasterCoaches

Because Wizards Mick Haley and Ruth Nelson have nothing better to do with their time (haha!), they’ve joined up with fellow coaching legends Bob Bertucci and Brian Gimmillaro to create MasterCoaches. It’s a project where they travel the country providing coaching clinics.

Here’s how they describe the project.

Our philosophy at MasterCoaches is to instruct coaches in the technical aspects of the game, develop the best methodology of instruction for individual skills, how to correct and implement these skills in practice and in competition.

These are 1-day clinics for coaches. A sample schedule is available here. It definitely looks like a fast-moving, jam-packed day!

Volleyball Coaching Wizards at the 2019 AVCA Convention

Volleyball Coaching Wizards made it’s first public appearance at the 2016 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Convention – in a manner of speaking. We’re back again for 2019!

For those of you who will be attending this year’s convention, John is presenting a session titled Wisdom from Some of the World’s Best Coaches. It’s scheduled for Friday the 20th at 11:45 in DLCC 303–305.

John’s presentation will be based on material from our second book, Volleyball Coaching Wizards – Wizard Wisdom. That’s the one where we share the views of the Wizards on a variety of coaching topics.

Special Convention Time Offer

While John’s at the convention (December 17th to 21st) you can get the print version of Volleyball Coaching Wizards – Wizard Wisdom for just $9.99 on Amazon (or the equivalent in your local Amazon store). This is only good during the convention, though!

If you see John at the convention, definitely feel free to say hello. Connecting with new people – and old friends, of course – is a big part of what theses events are all about.

If you can’t be at the convention, make sure to follow John’s updates about the event on his blog.

Wizards on the Web: Jim Stone

Wizard Jim Stone has a website you’ll want to check out – Definitely worth giving a read. He earlier had a different site, though, which featured an article titled The Man (Coach) in the Arena. It doesn’t look like it’s available anywhere any longer. It was based on a quote from Theodore Roosevelt on the subject of critics, however, which comes up in a video from Brené Brown.

If you’ve read Craig Marshall’s interview in our first book, you’ll know he talks about Brown’s discussion of vulnerability with respect to coaching skills. We used those comments from Craig in our second book as well.

Here’s the TED Talk referred to by Craig.

There’s also a longer presentation on Netflix titled Brené Brown – the Call to Courage. It runs 1 hour 16 minutes, and is a good watch.

From a coaching perspective, there’s an interesting podcast episode worth listening too in conjunction with the stuff above. The podcast is called EconTalk, but don’t be put off by the name. This particular episode specifically links to what Brown talks about with a really interesting twist. It’s one that we need to think about as coaches.

Here’s the link:

Milestone: 1000 books sold on Amazon

According to the reporting from Amazon, at some point in October 2019 we surpassed 1000 total books sold on their global platform.

This includes all three of the books we currently have available. It doesn’t include sales from other platforms, though, so in reality we actually reached 1000 books sold a bit earlier.

Still, a pretty cool achievement.

Not surprisingly, the first book leads the way. It’s been out quite a bit longer than the others, after all. The second book – Wizard Wisdom – has been steadily gaining ground, though. There’s a good chance it will eventually take over the lead.

Of course we wouldn’t have reached the 1000 unit mark yet without the Spanish translation of the 2nd book – Magos del Entrenamiento de Voleibol – Sabidurías de los Magos. It’s done very well in Spain. Curiously, though, we haven’t yet sold any through Amazon’s Brazil or Mexico sites. In fact, we need to find a way to get the book in front of Latin American coaches generally. That’s an on-going challenge, and suggestions are most welcome.

Look forward to updates on new books in development soon. We have some ideas in the works. More information on that as things firm up.

Meanwhile, if you’ve read both Wizards books so far and are looking for more good stuff to read, check out our Recommended Reading List. It’s titles the Wizards suggested.

Building a whole new coaching literature

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had the opportunity to connect with a number of coaches and talk about Volleyball Coaching Wizards. Those who’ve heard about it tell us they are super excited and think it’s an amazing thing for the sport. The excitement is clear. Even the those we’re interviewing for the project are really pumped up. Just the other day, Mike Lingenfelter, who helps run the highly successful Munciana Juniors club program in the States said, “To say that I am jacked to chat would be an understatement.”

To this point we’ve completed seven interviews, with more getting scheduled all the time (Carl McGown is booked for this week). We’re already starting to accumulate some really great nuggets of wisdom, insight, and experience. This is, of course, the most obvious expectation for the project. There’s more to it, though.

The other day Mark wrote a blog post in which he talked about his motivation for developing Volleyball Coaching Wizards and his hopes and expectations for the project. One of the things that has come up in our discussions with both the coaches we’re seeking to interview and coaches who are eager to learn from them is the lack of a strong coaching literature for our sport. In English there is a ton of material, primarily from the States, but the main focus is technical and tactical (drills, offensive and defensive systems, etc.). There isn’t much at what could be called the more macro level – the philosophical and structural framework in which the technical and tactical stuff is employed. We’re looking to change that.

Further, as Mark notes, there are language divisions in the sport which keep good material from being universally available. Our long-term hope for Wizards is to be able to overcome those language boundaries by making the content available in translations.

It’s not just about volleyball, though.

One of the things that’s become apparent from the early interviews already is the universality of some of the coaching subjects being discussed. Yes, there is obviously a focus on volleyball. There is much, though, which can be viewed in a general coaching context. This excerpt from the interview with former Australian and Canadian National Team Coach Stelio DeRocco on the importance of being consistent as a coach is a perfect example.

Up to now, volleyball coaches have drawn from the insights of the great coaches in other sports. With the Wizards project we may finally start to see coaches in other sports looking to volleyball for coaching wisdom.