The Volleyball Coaching Wizards Project
Follow the links below to find out more about the project, who is involved, and how you can help.
About the Project
Sharing thousands of years of accumulated volleyball coaching knowledge and experience. That’s what we’re after! Sound ambitious? We hope so. We want something truly spectacular – something that will help volleyball coaches at all levels for years to come! How? We Read More ...
Who’s Doing This?
John Forman and Mark Lebedew are the two main movers behind the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project. They do, however, get lots of help from their friends, colleagues, and contacts in the global volleyball community. John Forman first thought up the Read More ...
How you can help?
Making Volleyball Coaching Wizards the ultimate resource for coaches is a major undertaking. There is a lot of work done. Here’s part of what we have to do.: Identify and communicate with prospective Wizard coaches. Conduct numerous interviews. Arrange translation Read More ...
Keeping players fresh
In this excerpt from his interview, Mark discusses his philosophy on training time and intensity. In particularly, he talks about the need to make sure players are as fresh as possible for competition, not just in the short term, but also in the broader context of the full season.
Coaching the team’s best players
In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview, US college coach Joel Dearing talks about the need to avoid just focusing our coaching on the weaker players on the team. He says we have to make sure we also give the best player sufficient time and attention.
Joel Dearing coached a total of 40 seasons of collegiate volleyball – mainly on the women’s side, and mostly at Springfield College. He recorded over 700 NCAA Division III victories, putting him in the Top 10 all-time. He head to Springfield men to a final #1 ranking in his final season coaching them. He was the AVCA Regional Coach of the Year 5 times. Joel coached 10 All-Americans. He is the author of two volleyball books, is on the board of the Volleyball Hall of Fame, and is a long-time member of the USA Volleyball CAP cadre. In 2019 he was inducted in to the AVCA Hall of Fame.
This topic is one John & Mark take on in more detail in Episode 15 of the Podcast.
The psychology of training
In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview, Swedish coach Anders Kristiansson talks about the psychology of training. Specifically, he discusses the need to consider the mental impact on players of focusing on things they aren’t doing well or where they have developmental needs.
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.
You can hear further discussion of this concept in Episode 21 of the Podcast. It also features in the Wizard Wisdom book.
Importance of specificity in training
In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview, Tom Tait talks about the importance of making training specific. He uses as an example, hitters who primarily practice attacking without a block struggling to be effective when faced with opposition.
Tom Tait is essentially the father of the Penn State volleyball programs – both men and women. He led them both from their early days as club programs to their promotion to full varsity status. He eventually handed off the women’s team to Russ Rose, but kept coaching the men for several more years. In that time he reached 6 NCAA tournaments and reach the finals in 1982. Tom was the 1986 Volleyball Monthly National Coach of the Year. He is a member of the inaugural indication class to the AVCA Hall of Fame.
This topic is something John & Mark expand upon in Episode 17 of the Podcast, as well as in the Wizard Wisdom book.
Advice for coaching career development
In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview, Mick Haley shares some advice for coaches who are looking to potentially take their careers to the highest levels of coaching.
A 2006 AVCA Hall of Fame Inductee, Mick became the first coach of a non-West Coast team to win an NCAA Division I championship when he led Texas to the title in 1988. That wasn’t even his first national championship, though. Mick won a total of 6 junior college championships at Kellogg Community College between 1973 and 1979, amassing over 300 combined wins and earning himself a spot in the Junior College Coaches Hall of Fame. At Texas he won over 500 matches in 17 seasons during which the team won 13 conference titles and make 15 trips to the NCAA tournament. Mick coached the US Women during the 1997-2000 Olympic cycle, finishing 4th overall in Sydney. He has since been at the helm at the University of Southern California we he’s won 2 national championships and made six semifinals appearances, with well over 300 total wins to run his career tally north of 1000 in NCAA Division I alone.
Initial vs Final ability
In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview, renowned coach Carl McGown talks about the difficulty in judging final athlete ability based on the level of starting ability. He makes the point that we should coach as many players as we can for as long as we can.
A 2010 AVCA Hall of Fame inductee, McGown is widely considered one of the world’s best volleyball coaches and a key proponent of motor learning in volleyball. His coaching experience dates back to being assistant coach for the US team at the 1970 World Championships. He was head coach for the US men from 1973 to 1976 and technical adviser to the program in 1980. Since then, McGown has mentored teams in seven different Olympic Games and has also coached the National Team in seven different World Championships, including 1974, ’82, ’86, ’90, ’94, ’98 and ’02. Carl was the first coach in Brigham Young University men’s volleyball history and over 13 seasons he compiled a career record of 225-137, with two NCAA titles – twice garnering Tachikara/AVCA National Coach of the Year honors. Carl’s most recent upper level head coaching experience was in the 2007-08 Swiss A League, where he led LUC to the regular season title, the Coppe Suisse Championship and the Swiss League Championship.
The development of a coaching style
In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview, Simon Loftus shares his views on how coaching styles and philosophies are developed over time.
Simon became the first coach of a Scottish national volleyball team to win a championship when he led the Scotland men to the 2012 Novatel Cup title. As coach of the men’s and women’s program at Leeds Met University in England, his teams one 6 U.K. university (BUCS) championships and 5 Volleyball England Student Cups. He has also coached professionally in Sweden and has NCAA coaching experience.
Creating game-like situations in training
Training in-context is a key to player development. In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching WIzards interview, Paulo Cunha talks about how to create game-like drills when working with only one or a few players.
From 1987 to 2007 Paulo was a coaching education lecturer and course director for the Portuguese Volleyball Association and Portuguese Volleyball Federation. He coached his nation’s Junior National Team from 1986-1992. His club teams in Portugal’s 1st Division won 8 national titles, 7 Portuguese Cups, and 6 Super Cups. Paulo’s coached in 12 European Cups and in 1998 became the first Portuguese coach to reach a European cup final four. Three times he was awarded Coach of the Year by the Portuguese Association of Volleyball Coaches.
Changing training over the season
Stelio DeRocco talks in this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview about how he changes and adapts his team’s training over the different phases of the season.
Stelio was the Australian National Team coach during the 2000 Olympic cycle. He later lead the Canadian National team to a NORCECA championship and coached in a World Cup. As a professional coach, he won 2 Euro Cups with Montichiari (Italy) and 2 leagues and 3 cups with Constanta (Romania).
The concept of the team – another view
In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching WIzards interview, Vital Heynen shares his concept of team and how he looks to develop that in the volleyball squads he leads. It is worth comparing his views to those shared by Sue Gozansky.
Vital led the German National Team to a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships, then Poland to gold in 2018. He won numerous league and cup titles coaching in his native Belgium, and has also coached professionally in Germany, Poland and Turkey.