John Dunning on defining team culture

At the Art of Coaching Volleyball clinic in Fort Worth, TX (held at TCU), John got a chance to sit down with John Dunning, Terry Liskevych, and Russ Rose for a set of interviews. They were not full Wizards style interviews – which generally go 1:30-2:00 hours in length – but they addressed some similar themes. We’ll be releasing clips from those interviews on our YouTube channel over time – five of them this week.

Here’s the first, featuring John Dunning talking about developing and enforcing team culture.

Watching yourself coach

Terry Pettit did an interview with fellow Wizard Mick Haley. One of the more interesting comments Mick made had to do with observations his wife has made about his posture when coaching. Specifically, he said:

Mick Haley“She tells me not to cross my arms on the bench because it makes me look anxious.”

By now we’ve probably all heard about the importance of body language. From a player’s perspective, its the subject of an article Karch Kiraly wrote a while back. Do you actually think about your posture, stance, movements, and facial expressions when you’re coaching, though?

I’m sure most of us don’t. We’re too caught up in the moment – in our coaching. It tends to only be when things are pointed out to us – as in Mick’s case – that we realize what we’re doing and the potential implications. That isn’t always something others will talk with us about, though. Mick is fortunate to have a wife who is willing to make those kind of statements. For those who don’t, it wouldn’t hurt to take things into our own hands by watching ourselves on video – or at least soliciting feedback from folks who will be honest with us.

If you’re someone who wants a long career in coaching, this sort of thing is important. You always have an audience. At the lower levels that may just be your players and their parents. If you coach for a school, add in spectators, teachers, students, and administrators. If you coach for a club, especially professionally, you have sponsors to consider. You’re bound to end up on a broadcast or a video at some point – maybe even every time you coach like those at the upper levels of NCAA and professional volleyball. That’s a lot of people making judgments about you based on what they see you doing or not doing.

In other words, it’s not just about how you present yourself to the players – which is important in its own right. It’s also how you present yourself to all sorts of others who can potentially influence your coaching career. As Mark recently asked, “What’s your message?

What Does A Volleyball Coaching Wizard Do?

There are a lot of volleyball coaches, many of whom are good. But there are not many who are Volleyball Coaching Wizards.

It is difficult to define exactly what makes a Volleyball Coaching Wizard. I am not even sure that we knew the answer to that question when we started the project. But after 15 odd interviews, there already seems to be a few themes emerging. None of these themes should be terribly surprisingly, but they are worthwhile pointing out. The coaches love volleyball and love their work. They are lifelong learners. They are open to new ideas and possibilities.

One coach who exemplifies all of the qualities is German National Team Vital Heynen, who was incidentally one of our first interviewees. Exactly how open he is to new possibilities is currently in the news as he begins a ‘Hellweek’ with his team in preparation for the European Championships. Interestingly, he is not doing it with the express purpose of improving his team is the short term.

„I don’t think there’s a direct effect of the rules to winning the European Championship. My hope is that in five years some of the guys will tell me – Hey coach, we learned something in that week, we learned something about ourselves…“

Read more about Hellweek here.

Below is a snippet.

Mark Lebedew on changing coaching philosophy

Here’s a clip from Mark Lebedew’s interview in which he talks about how his coaching philosophy has changed over the years. It’s short, but it could make you ask questions of your own philosophy.

This clip is just part of an interview which contains more than 2 hours of insight, experience, and observations from internationally and professionally experienced coach.

Learn more about Mark and how you can access his full interview here.