5 Tips to Getting Started with Gold Medal Squared

BYU Women’s Volleyball Head Coach, Heather Olmstead

So, you’ve Attended a Gold Medal Squared Coaches Clinic. Now what?

Time to apply the principles you learned, the advice you received, and the data you’ve collected. As the saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The best time to do these things was 20 years ago, but the second best time is NOW. Here are 5 tips to getting started with GMS in your gyms today!

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1. Pass, Dig and Set Off the Net

We believe that these skills give you the “most bang for your buck” in terms of how quickly you team will improve. Move your passing target off the net. As a result, your team will not be passing into or over the net. This will immediately improve your team’s side out-efficiency. Don’t believe us? Take the stats, and compare them for yourself. Likewise, if you move your digging target to 10 feet off x 20 feet high, your team will have fewer errors and you will immediately score more points in transition; the probability of winning the rally will dramatically increase. Again, if you don’t believe us, compare the stats. Lastly, if your setter sets the ball 3-5 feet off the net, your hitters will be able to hit with more range, and score more points. We strongly recommend getting this in place ASAP.

2. Put Your Best Defenders Where Most of the Balls Go

It’s hard to argue with the facts. We know where nearly 50% of all volleyballs go, regardless of the “hole in the block” or the blocker’s positions. Put your best defenders where most of the balls go, and KEEP them there! We WON’T get into a long-winded discussion about the MYTH of the “hole in the block,” but you should get this point in place during your very first practice back in the gym. Put your BEST defenders where most of the balls go.

middle middle defense heat map

TIP: First, determine who your best defenders are. This may or may not be your libero, defensive specialist or outside hitter. If you have a middle blocker that can execute in the back row as well as the front, and is your team’s BEST defender, why wouldn’t you put her here? Secondly, track where hits go. With either the iPad app, VolleyMaps, or a pen and paper; track where all attacks go in your gym. You’ll quickly see obvious concentrations in middle-middle and cross-court. Like the late great Carl McGown said,

 

“If you don’t like my chart, make your own damn chart.”

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3. Teach Hitting in Transition

It’s important that both you and your athletes understand the significance of transition. A large percentage of women’s volleyball is spent in the transition game – significantly more that in the serve/receive phase of the game. The odds are that in your league, your athletes will return the ball more than 60% of the time. Teach your athletes to be patient. Teach them to know when it’s OK to take a big swing (on a good set), and teach them that it’s OK to hit the ball in the court with control and wait for another chance to take the big swing. You can’t allow your athletes to make mindless hitting errors. 

4. Master Fundamental Skills

If you are new to Gold Medal Squared, your first practice back in the gym should involve the passing keys. We spend 3 hours on passing keys during our first day of our summer camps. Teach at the pace of the learners, and work through the skills in this order:

  • Passing
  • Serving
  • Hitting
  • Individual Defense
  • Blocking

Your goal is to teach your athletes all the keys and ensure they have any understanding of the movement patterns associated with each key. This must be accompanied by the end of the first month of practice (assuming you practice two days per week in club season.) If you are currently in a high school season, you should get the keys in place in a week or two.

5. Coach for Confidence

“Competence breeds confidence.”

Coach your athletes in a way that is going to build confidence. As an example, how would you communicate with an outside hitter who keeps making hitting errors?

One common option is to say “stop making hitting errors” or “we aren’t going to win if you continue to make hitting errors.” this doesn’t do anything to solve the problem. Consider that maybe your outside doesn’t have the skills to deal with that particular situation. A good alternative would be to give that athlete correction reps. Rather than saying “stop making errors” you can say, “here’s a ball, try again” and replicate the play. This not only gives the athlete another opportunity to learn a specific skill, but it also leaves them feeling OK about things because they were successful during the correction.

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