Blogs that are Making a Difference

April 22, 2014, 11 a.m. (ET)

After sharing with you the importance of the “Volleyball Coaches and Trainers” group on Facebook, I went skiing for my last day this season in Vail. It’s a sport I have done all my life, and in no small way, the 54 Colorado 14ers are only rivaled by the 28 ski area options. Fresh powder everywhere, you get time to ride up in a chair or gondola, meet new people sharing your sport from around the world and reflect on how lucky you are to be alive.  I wonder if we can make our tournaments change to a game, then take time to sit with the other team’s players and coaches on their bench, then in another game, they come sit on your bench, whether it goes three sets or not. Just to have time to learn about the other amazing people who love our sport too. 

Looking down to Ford Field at the base of the ski area, it is hard to believe that in 60 short days, the closest volleyball event that makes this “sharing and meeting” a reality, will be happening on that snow covered grass.  The Vail Father’s Day Tournament – something I started over a decade ago with my old friend Leon Fell. There you can play coed on Friday, B-AA on Saturday, then join your son or daughter if they are still in high school, to play against all the other Fathers doing the same.  The story that tells my tale was shared on a blog by ESPN High School sports HERE -and I urge all dads loving this game to play with their son or daughter somehow on Father’s Day.  If you can’t get to Vail, enter a doubles men’s division or coed tourney and play with your kid. You deserve it. 

So did you know there is an ESPN High School blog? That got me to thinking about the ones that make a difference in my life – on and off the court. So in no particular order, I share my list of blogs I frequent to become a better person and lifelong learner that I am.  BTW, I share finds more and more on Twitter so if you are so inclined @JohnKesselUSAV will get you connected that way:

The Talent Code – Dan Coyle’s New York Times best-selling book by the same name is kept up-to-date by great articles and finds by this great sportswriter.

Changing the Game ProjectSoccer player/coach John O’Sullivan’s excellent blog on making all sports better for all kids – always worth the read. 

Teaching Life’s Lessons Through Volleyball – by Miami University assistant coach Chuck Rey – One of the first volleyball blogs, which is still being added to by a great thinker in our sport. 

USAV Arizona Regions Sidelines Written by Eric Hodgson, Arizona RVA’s Outreach Director, who also happens to lead my Sport Development Commission, Eric “gets it” and writes about things that not only matter to our sport, but to parenting, playing and making all sports better – with a focus on volleyball of course!

Make Each Day Your Masterpiece – Volleyballer4life’s (Bryan McDermand) blog on our sport that is always worth the read and ponder. 

Gold Medal Squared – Hall of Fame and coaching legend Carl McGown and his staff are always up to date on the latest research and science of teaching our sport.  A look back at past blogs, comments, and other sections are always worthwhile here too. 

Brain Pickings - Editor Maria Popova, herself a curious mind at large, calls the site a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are. Founded in 2006 as a humble email digest and eventually brought online, the site was included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive in 2012.

Championship Basketball School Newsletter – I have done two summer camps in Lander Wyoming, where some great kids live and do sports. The Ragan family are a remarkable clan, mom Janet head coaching VB while two of her children are in volleyball. Two others are in hoops and son Trevor’s non-blog basketball but motor learning science based newsletter is a favorite one for breaking out of the silos of my sport. 

Sports Performance and Tech Magazine - Every issue has reads of value to any sport coach or leader.  The newest edition has a focus on the spread of analytics in sports and how teams, athletes and coaches are making the most of new data driven approaches. Sections include how FC Barcelona are integrating data into their open sharing culture to maintain their winning mentality; Dan Petersen looks at the importance of mental training in the age old battle of pitcher vs batter in baseball; Richard Angus discusses how the US Olympic team are using data to improve medal prospects in the future and Simon Barton looks at how analytics have made a big impact on the young athletes at the ASPIRE academy in Qatar.

Mind/ShiftHow We Will Learn - Launched in 2010 by KQED and NPR, MindShift explores the future of learning in all its dimensions, covering cultural and technology trends, innovations in education, groundbreaking research, education policy, and more. The editor is Tina Barseghian.

My Aussie Family – Having lived there as Australian Tech Director,  living in each major city from Brisbane to Perth, for months and keeping in touch with great leaders like Tony Naar, the Borgeauds, TC Pho, Peter Bundy and more, I am thankful for the Internet that lets me skype, email and read the neat things happening there. Like a few of these blogs by more of that nation’s great leaders. 

Clyde Street – by Keith Lyon who lives in New South Wales, studies performance analysis, and thinks of himself as an educational technologist, keen to learn from the remarkable people who share their insights and experiences across the web. I love the web of information and insights he ponders.   

At Home on the Court – by Aussie Mark Lebew –  I knew Mark’s dad in Oz, and he would be proud of the great international level professional volleyball coach his son has become. In 2012 and 2013 he coached Berlin Recycling Volleys to the German Bundesliga title. Mark says “I watch and study a lot of volleyball for my job, preparing for my job and for fun. Sometimes I come across things about volleyball that interest/amuse/annoy me. These are those things.” 

Tips and Traps – by South Australia’s Dave Eldridge. I have known Eldo for over 25 years and am not sure there is a better school volleyball coach in the world, let alone all of Oz. While winning over 60 titles with Heathfield High he grows the game with his VB company and his shared writings too.

Sports Coaching Brain – by Aussie Wayne Goldsmith - I first met Wayne years ago at a USOC Sports Performance Conference at the OTC here in Colorado Springs . Wayne writes that “this blog does not aim to educate so much as to inspire coaches at all levels and in every sport to achieve excellent through being themselves and believing that anything is really possible.” 

If you got this far, you must be a lifelong learner/reader, so I am going to share one more thing to ponder.  Back in 1995, CU Professor Emeritus in math, Albert A. Bartlett, taught a session on exponential learning/doubling rates. Professor Bartlett shared a lot of math and examples, as he feels that “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”   In 2007 the lecture was posted to YouTube under the title “The Most Important Video You Will Ever See…” and over 5 million people have watched it. The video can be seen here

See, when I first skied Vail in 1970, tickets were $7 – or $6 with a coupon. I took a picture at the lift ticket booth, shaking my head to see it would cost $129 to ski all day (not a senior yet!).  The good news? It is below the doubling rate seen from 1963 to 2003. What has slowed it, I am not sure, but the math lesson is sound and worth understanding on many levels and the lecture, as boring as it might be, is fascinating I think.

If you have a blog that you follow which is making a difference in your coaching and how you grow the game, please share it below in the comments! Thanks for making a difference by being a lifelong learner.