Structuring preseason

What does your preseason training structure look like? That is addressed by Mark in this clip excerpted from his interview. He addresses some of the challenges that coaches in the professional game have to deal with in terms of player availability. He lays out the primary objectives of preseason development and provides a basic framework of how he looks to plan things. One of the potential surprises for many volleyball coaches is that Mark doesn’t do any of what he calls traditional conditioning.

Things not working quite as expected

In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching WIzards interview, Vital Heynen talks how sometimes the things you try in your coaching can have unanticipated effects.

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.

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.

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.

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).

A view on blocked training

In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview, legendary American men’s collegiate volleyball coach Al Scates lets you know what he thinks about blocked training.

Al Scates coached the UCLA Men’s Volleyball program for more than 40 years. During that span his teams amassed over 1200 victories and won 19 NCAA championships, with another 6 runners-up finishes. Scates was named Coach of the Year five times: 1984, 1987, 1993, 1996, 1998. He was inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Hall of Fame in 2004.

A side vs B Side or mixed team scrimmages

In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview, US college men’s coach Arnie Ball answers the question whether he prefers scrimmaging starters against non-starters or mixing the players up.

Arnie Ball spent more than 30 years coaching the men’s team at IPFW where he won over 500 matches, reached the NCAA Final 4 six times, and was a national runner-up. He also won over 200 matches as the IPFW women’s team coach in the first few years of his tenure there. Arnie was named conference Coach of the Year three times and the 2007 AVCA National Coach of the Year. He has worked in the USA national program in a number of different coach roles and is a member of the AVCA Hall of Fame.

This is a topic John & Mark delve into more deeply in Episode 20 of the Podcast.

Looking at jump counts like pitch counts

In this excerpt from his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview, US high school and juniors coach Ryan Mitchell explores the idea of volleyball coaches evaluating player jump counts in ways similar to how baseball managers use pitch counts.

Ryan Mitchell has been a head coach at a three different high schools in the greater Dallas area, as well as having coached at the Juniors level for three of the area’s clubs. At the high school level, Ryan won five straight Texas titles, earning himself six Coach of the Year selections in the state. He was also selected National High School Coach of the Year by the NFHS. At the club levels his teams have earned national qualification nearly every year.

In Episode 22 of the Podcast this is a subject John & Mark expand upon.