After coaching for so many years, I’ve found my “style.”
I would describe it as supportive, patient, joking, laid back, cooperative, and open-minded.
Those are all positives, in my mind.
Of course we always want to believe that we’re the epitome of what a “good” coach should be, and it can be hard to assess flaws in our style.
As coaches, we’re used to getting our way. We run the show!
But what about when you become the instructee? Read More
Summer is almost here, and this is ALWAYS the time of year when I am asked what players should do to prepare for school volleyball tryouts.
There are plenty of options out there….
While all of these will likely improve a player’s skill level, physical fitness, coordination, and mental understanding of the game, there’s one big opportunity that many families tend to overlook: beach volleyball. Read More
Recently, I posted a question on the Instagram Story for my account for volleyball coaches, @getthepancake. I asked:
“Players: What’s something you wish your coaches or parents knew?”
The range of answers highlights just how unique our athletes are, and I think the players provide some great insight.
When reading this article, please keep in mind the following: “Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true.” Read More
The hesitation. The apprehension. The questions. The tears.
These are all fairly NEW to me as a coach, despite beginning my coaching career over a decade ago.
Nearly all players can handle being told how to correct their form without bursting into tears and making you feel like a horrible person.
But there’s a shift happening. I’m not entirely sure of the reason WHY (though I have some guesses), but once I started making adjustments to my coaching style, I was able to see players settle into the comfort of learning and actually contribute to their team. Read More
I couldn’t WAIT to start coaching volleyball when I was in school. I had helped with camps throughout high school and wanted nothing more than to just finish school so I could coach. I guess I’m obsessed.
But once I finally GOT a coaching job, a wave of incompetence seemed to rush over me.
I literally had no idea what to do. Now, as many of you know, this specific feeling is precisely what led to me writing Coaching Volleyball: A Survival Guide For Your First Season.
And while I obviously recommend my book for new coaches looking for actionable tasks and guidance in their first season as a volleyball coach, I wanted to share my thoughts on the first book I bought when I was looking for how to get started coaching a decade ago. Read More
Coaching volleyball is an amazing experience that many players look forward to having once they leave school. Whether you played high school volleyball, college volleyball, or maybe you only played in PE, you CAN get a job coaching volleyball if you prepare well enough.
There are many challenges that come with being a coach if you are not prepared to do your homework. Even experienced players will need to stay up-to-date on the latest teaching strategies in order to impress directors and get the job.
This article includes tips on how to prepare for an interview to coach volleyball and lists possible questions you’ll be asked during that interview. Read More
Volleyball stats offer a (mostly) objective look at player and team performance, and can be vital to helping determine appropriate areas of focus for future training, determining optimal rotations, and providing a broad look at team performance overall.
Looking at individual stats can help players understand their strengths and weaknesses, analyze match performance, and in some instances, even help them get recruited.
Although stats SEEM intimidating… they don’t have to be! Coaches and parents new to volleyball should not be intimidated by the overwhelming spreadsheets, computations, and volleyball jargon common when discussing volleyball stats.
I’m going to break down some of the more basic statistics for you, so you can feel more confident coaching volleyball, watching volleyball, and talking volleyball. Read More
Tracking volleyball stats is one of those tasks which feels overwhelming to start, but once you get the hang of it, you find that you can actually learn a lot from them.
However, one of the disadvantages to tracking stats during a game (particularly hand written) is that you don’t get the see the MOMENTUM of the game. Volleyball matches can be determined by a simple run of points at just the right time, and those critical moments are impossible to track simply by looking back through your stats sheet.
Enter: The Game Graph. Read More
Let’s face it…. Playing poorly all day, whether it’s an important match or a big tournament weekend, takes its toll on even the most confident coaches and players.
It’s no fun to watch a meltdown happen right in front of your eyes.
Although you may not be happy with how your team performed, there are a couple of things you can do to get your team back on track. Read More
No matter what our team’s normal skill level is, sometimes there are just games (or even full days!) where our athletes are just…. off.
It is probably worthwhile for you to dig into those reasons in an attempt to stop this situation from happening in the future. However, since it is usually a large, variable combination of things that may or may not have a possible solution, today I want to talk about what to do after you recognize this in your team!
I want to talk about visualization in volleyball, especially because it helped me when I was playing and still helps to this day. It’s likely that not EVERYONE will buy-in… And that’s ok!
But I want to make sure your athletes have the right tools in their toolkit to pull themselves out of a slump if possible. Read More
Before your first tournament of the season, you’ll need to identify leaders on your team.
This can be a challenge because in the beginning of the season, EVERYONE is on their best behavior! Everyone hustles to shag, they’re all clapping for each other, and when you ask them to come in… they run.
But in order to find one or two players who will own the role of leader, there are a few things we as coaches can keep an eye on at practice. Noticing these characteristics early on will help you in more ways than you can count, as you’ll be able to focus attention towards guiding these players, who in turn will help steer the rest of the team for you. Read More
After your players have developed their serving accuracy, it’s time to put their skills to work!
Depending on your team’s age and skill level, there are plenty of serving strategies to consider. We’ll review a few basic strategies, plus consider a few more to get your brain muscles flexing! Read More
If I had to name my top three favorite aspects of coaching volleyball, it would be:
1) Helping young players develop into volleyball athletes with confidence and self esteem;
2) Constantly being challenged to out-strategize our opponents; and
3) Creating new volleyball drills.
I guess number three, creating new drills, is BECAUSE of my top two. I like to get creative at practice and create drills specific to my team’s age, level of play, potential, strengths, and weaknesses.
There’s an ART to creating a good volleyball drill! Read More
A new volleyball season is upon us, and I’m sure many of us are heading into our first week back on the court with gusto and optimism. But there’s a lot of pressure on us all to perform at the highest level, so we all want to make sure we show up prepared!
Having gone through the whole “new season” thing QUITE a few times, here are my own personal tips for conducting a GREAT first practice of the year. Read More
I’m going to venture into a space I don’t often occupy, and that is sharing my opinion on macro volleyball topics. Sure, I’ll debate what “ready position” actually means and can have a long discussion with you about substitution strategy, but those are just a part of the game!
Here I want to discuss two of the biggest challenges I believe volleyball programs face in their quest to getting more booties in the stands, and more people INTERESTED in volleyball. Read More
If you’re reading this, I don’t need to tell you that Senior Night is a big deal.
Traditionally the final home match of a volleyball season, Senior Night carries significance not only for your senior players, but for parents, the coaching staff, and for the rest of your program as well.
With volleyball being a fall sport in most areas in the US, this might also be on of the first times it really hits your players that they’re graduating and leaving high school life. Practically every senior night in my memory (either as a coach or as a player) involves tears.
Lots and lots of tears.
So what’s a coach to do to honor their seniors the right way? You want to make sure that they feel valued by the school and community, but let’s be real… we also have a budget to follow. Here are five ideas for you to consider if they are right for your program. Use them all, or combine them in a new way! Read More
For many of you, the middle of the season is upon on (or fast approaching), and with that, boredom can start to set in. The number of new drills and concepts which you’re teaching your team has probably dropped, and not only is your team feeling a lack of fresh energy, but you’re feeling it too!
This part of the season is my least and most favorite. When the monotony kicks in, it can feel like there’s nothing you can do! BUT! When you finally think of a fresh take on a drill or come to practice set on pepping things up, that’s when the magic happens. Read More
Coaching volleyball is about MORE than just running the best drills at practice! If this is your first time coaching volleyball, start here!
When you step on the court, you’re surrounded by young athletes with TONS of potential who are ready to listen to every word you have to say. Over the course of a season you share a ton of laughs, encourage them to dip deep and overcome challenges, and watch them grow in a sport you both love. Read More
How many times have you heard these instructions at a match or tournament… “Talk!” “Call the ball!” “Communicate!”
Once in a while, this is fine. But when communication seems to be a nagging issue, there’s likely a root cause that you need to address.
Let's discuss how to improve communication for your volleyball team, shall we?
When you are training a group of players to be elite athletes it can seem like spending time playing games at practice is a waste of time. What we sometimes forget as coaches is that fun is a major component of the learning process.Thinking back on my time as a player I first remember running around laughing with my teammates and playing fun games. Yes, I remember playing hard, training, and running through drills, but the most vivid memories are from when I was playing "deadfish," "the downball game," and more. Read More