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A Coaching Challenge and Reality

Jan. 26, 2009, 12:23 p.m. (ET)

Just back from Milwaukee where over 60 coaches shared two full days of a CAP course. I got up at 3 am to catch a 6 am NW flight there and spent a very interesting part of Friday with the Badger Region Board of Directors and Junior Leaders, sharing ideas on growing the game…

Jenny Hahn and the group there run a very innovative region, with many great volunteer leaders USA Volleyball is fortunate to have involved. So for two days Cecile Reynaud, Stu Sherman, Tom Shoji and I shared the ideas of over a hundred years of coaching expertise and the latest science of sport. The site was a superb one. Waynze World with 8 well lit courts and tons of space for each court.

A lot of understanding went on over the two days, along with a lot of laughs. I tasted perhaps the best root beer I had ever tasted, made with honey they say, by Sprechers, and had more than a few bratwursts, and was pleased to see some coaches I first worked with decades ago…still teaching and still learning, along with many young coaches.

So two things stood out, beyond the people doing so many good things to help grow our sport there.

1. Never be a Child’s Last Coach

This is one of my mantras, and I am very proud of the number of my players who continue to play long after school volleyball is over, as well as those who give back to the sport by coaching and officiating. Retention is a very important area to improve in this wonderful lifetime sport. I heard a story about a passionate player who, due to the kind of “coaching” she got at college, had stopped playing the game. I will write more on this problem later, but for now, I challenge any of you reading this to simply never be an athlete’s LAST coach…and think about what that means to your own skill development and coaching…

2. Train in Reality

So many coaches seem stunned when we start to guide them towards understanding what pepper and partner passing and all sorts of traditional drills do in a player’s development. It seems they are so shocked with the idea of using the net the whole time you HAVE one there, that they think that we are saying never pepper or partner pass. Marv’s line about “train in reality” was oft said, but the point remains that when we have such a limited time to have the net, and our teammates, you simply must use it the whole time. Sure the kids will partner and pepper, in the driveways, back yards, and even school hallways until they break the fluorescent lights….but to spend so much time setting up the net, then to ignore it for the first 10-30 minutes of practice is not understanding the importance of both cumulative effect and the reality of our limited time of training. Development of positive mistakes first is also very important and not well understood it seems, given the amount of time training negative errors, but that is a different topic…

On the flight back, this quote came to mind that I will share – like Sprechers, you can google up John Holt and find some good writings and ideas by him…

“Not many years ago I began to play the cello. Most people would say that what I am doing is "learning to play" the cello. But these words carry into our mind the strange idea that there exists two very different processes: (1) learning to play the cello; and (2) playing the cello. They imply that I will do the first until I have completed it, at which point I will stop the first process and begin the second. In short, I will go on "learning to play" until I have "learned to play" and then I will begin to play. Of course, this is nonsense. There are not two processes, but one. We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way…” -- John Holt

Hey, Happy 2009 all. Let us know how we can help you grow the game…. John

Comments

The following comments were made on our previous web platform and have been transferred here to maintain the historical record.

On March 02, 2012 JJ wrote

Thanks John. I like reading your blog posts.

 

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