10 Days in to the Volleyball Season

Perpetually Dissatisfied and Always in a Hurry This is the second quote on our whiteboard. This time next week we will have played 3 matches. There just is never enough time to get everything in place – NEVER.

One aspect of our coaching staff that I’m greatly enjoying this season is our belief in being “perpetually dissatisfied.” We stole this from the USA Women’s National Team Staff – they are, in my opinion, the best coaching staff in the world. So our staff is always asking questions – how can we be better? What if we did this different? Can we measure this and see if it makes a difference? Everything is up for discussion. As such, we have made some changes that are going to be helpful to our goal to be 2% better everyday.

Serving and Passing I asked my staff for “3 Big Rocks” we need to work on this coming week. Of course, I got more than 3 from each of them. But each of them said this – “we need to serve and pass better.” I think we spend a lot of time on this skill. Maybe we do? Maybe we don’t!!! Or maybe, you can never serve and pass enough.

Stats. Stats. And, Stats I’m not going to pretend I don’t like numbers. I played for Carl McGown. So many times this season our staff has left practice thinking one thing about an athlete, the quality of practice or some type of setter/hitter relationship, only to have it dis-proven by the numbers we collect. Of course, we are fortunate to be able to collect a lot of numbers. However, it’s not hard to collect a rudimentary series of statistics. We used giant Post-It notes when off campus conducting a scrimmage in lieu of a whiteboard. It was simple. If we are asking our athletes to work to be 2% better, then we should be looking for similar improvement in ourselves. Remember, we are all “perpetually dissatisfied.”

Relationships Carl once made reference to a conversation he had where the great coaches had the ability to “be good too and good for” their athletes. This is the time of the year when decisions are going to be made. Hard decisions: who is going to be on the travel roster for the first weekends away tournament? Who is going to start? What is the athletes role on the team if they aren’t starting?

My goal this year is to ensure I’m direct, honest and provide timely communication to my athletes. I didn’t do a good job last season. As a result, my team suffered and my relationship with them became strained. It’s my responsibility to communicate with my athletes. Some times it’s not fun. Sometimes it’s a lot of fun. However, it takes time. I guess we shouldn’t take the job if we don’t want to make tough decisions.

But while it’s tough on us, it’s exponentially harder on the athlete. Let us all remember that we are coaching people. People with feelings and emotions. How we as coaches approach difficult conversations is going to have a profound effect on the athlete and our team. I don’t have the perfect delivery. I just think honesty is the best policy. I’m interested in seeing how I do.

Manage The Game We have made a dramatic shift in the way we talk about the game. Rather than talk in terms of “don’t” we talk in terms of managing the game. A constant question being asked in our gym is simply, “How could you have managed the game better?” When we watch film, we are watching it with an eye towards identifying areas where we did a good job in that area, or where there is an opportunity to upgrade.

Later this month, Daniel Coyle (The Talent Code) releases his newest book The Little Book of Talent. Should be a must read for any coach.

Jason Watson – ASU Women’s Volleyball