coaching volleyball

The Volleyball Life w/ Heather Olmstead

The Volleyball Life Podcast – Heather Olmstead


Today on the volleyball life podcast, we’re talking with 2018 National Coach of the Year Heather Olmstead.  Heather is the head coach of the women’s volleyball team at Brigham Young University.  In 2018, BYU went this year to their third ever women’s final four championship and had what was by all accounts of really magical season.

We talked to Heather about the priorities that they have established their be why you further athletes. We talk about growth mindset for the players and for the coaches and the coaching staff and for really everyone that surrounds the program. Talk a little bit about just the things that she finds are important to her as a head coach and trying to help these young athletes become great. She’s a really great person and a wonderful coach and we’re excited to have her in the program. I think you’ll love hearing what she has to say.

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Brent Crouch: USC’s Newest Trojan and GMS Advisory Staff Member

Brent Crouch, USC Head Coach and GMS Advisory Staff Member

USC’s Newest Trojan and GMS Advisory Staff Member 

We at Gold Medal Squared are elated for Brent Crouch in his new role as the University of Southern California Women’s Volleyball Head Coach, and GMS Advisory Staff member. Brent Crouch was first introduced to Gold Medal Squared through current GMS Director and USA Volleyball Assistant Coach, Mike Wall, but it was long-term GMS contributors and St. Mary’s College Staff (Rob Browning and Keegan Cook) who inspired Brent through Gold Medal Squared principles; and the staunch support from late GMS Founder, Carl McGown, whom propelled Crouch through his success at Portland.

“I’m so glad that Rob Browning saw the potential in Brent when he originally hired him as an assistant at St. Mary’s, bringing him into our circle here at GMS. I’ve loved being able to spend personal and professional time with Brent, and I love that our clients get to have that same experience.” Chris McGown, GMS Co-Founder and Former BYU Men’s Head Coach

Discussions regarding this relationship have been brewing for well over a year, but we at Gold Medal Squared are overjoyed that it’s finally come to fruition.

“One of my top priorities when organizing our new staff was aligning ourselves with high character people. Brent certainly fits that criteria. Furthermore, I’ve always felt that Brent’s skill set, both on the court and interpersonally would allow him to be highly successful. USC not only got a wonderful coach, but an even better human being. I suppose this means I’ll have to become a USC fan, but for Brent, it’s worth it :)” Mike Wall, GMS Director and USA Men’s Volleyball Assistant Coach

When asked why Crouch ultimately decided to join Gold Medal Squared’s Advisory Staff, he responded,

“The high quality and high character people in GMS, and their commitment to becoming the best coaches and teachers of volleyball through a commitment to evidence based research and sound principles.”  

Brent’s Background

Before he was nominated 2016 West Coast Conference Coach of the Year, Crouch inherited a winless Portland program, and in just two seasons, guided the Pilots to their winningest season in 25 years.

Brent Crouch also helped establish beach volleyball as a varsity sport at Portland in 2016, after assisting with the St. Mary’s College indoor program and head coaching their beach team. He not only assisted the St. Mary’s Gaels’ indoor team to a 73-40 overall record, finishing in the Top 3 in the WCC standings, and earning a berth into the NCAA Tournament in 2012; he likewise, coached the inaugural St. Mary’s beach team in 2013, guiding the Gaels to an 8-2 record (best mark among all Northern California teams.)

“Brent is one of the highest-character people that I’ve come across in coaching.  He’s incredibly dedicated to his players and works tirelessly to help them improve as athletes and as people.  Also, he is completely invested in improving his craft; is always asking smart questions, looking for unique solutions, and generally trying to become a better teacher and communicator,” says McGown.

We have no doubts that the athletes at USC and coaches attending GMS clinics will be blown away by Brent’s expertise, humility, and leadership.

Gazing into the Future with Gold Medal Squared

Gold Medal Squared believes coaches and athletes should approach the game of volleyball with set of unfailing principles which govern the game at all levels. Likewise, Brent Crouch holds a strong conviction for evidence based thinking:

Brent Crouch

Brent Crouch, Head Coach at USC

“I’d like to see GMS continue to spread its respect for evidence based thinking and principled coaching through the volleyball community, so that young coaches can not only implement solid fundamentals, principles and systems, but can become active members of the community of inquiry that is pushing volleyball to higher and higher levels of performance and execution.“ Brent Crouch, Head Coach USC, GMS Advisory Staff Member.

Brent would like to see volleyball continue to gain speed as a major televised event and pro sport in the US, and see the men’s game expand in ways analogous to the women’s college game.  

Brent Crouch’s 2 Tips for Success

Brent Crouch fervently believes quality reps matter greatly in both coaching and playing the game of volleyball. Crouch advises new coaches interested in taking their game to next level, to:

1. Volunteer in the best gyms you can.

“Coach summer camps in the best collegiate programs you can; Head coach at a high level club, and you’ll soon be interacting with college coaches across the country, gaining you valuable coaching experiences.”


2. Surround yourself with mentors that can teach you how to think about volleyball, so that you can apply principles and methods to building your own programs.

“Systems, tactics, and techniques need to be outgrowths of a process of thinking and research, capable of update and revision, and tailored to your specific team that year.  It’s not enough to know how, but you need to know why.”

To follow Brent’s success at USC, you can follow him on social media:   

Facebook:   Brent Crouch
Twitter:       @crouchvbcoach
Instagram:  @crouchingb

Gold Medal Squared welcomes you to attend a coaches’ clinic this summer. Want to meet Brent? Keep an eye on our clinic dates and locations page by clicking here: GMS Coaches Clinics 2018

Want to learn more about the new Gold Medal Squared Advisory Staff? Stay tuned for future posts later this month, or read our latest post on Courtney Thompson which we published just last month.

PARK CITY, UT: February 2018

Courtney Thompson Joins GMS Advisory Staff

Courtney Thompson Joins The GMS Advisory Staff

Gold Medal Squared (GMS) is pleased to announce their partnership with Courtney Thompson as a member of their Volleyball Advisory Staff.  Courtney Thompson is an accomplished athlete:

  1. Two-Time Olympic Medalist (2012 Silver, 2016 Bronze)
  2. 2014 World Champion
  3. 2005 NCAA National Champion

She is also one of the founders of the Give It Back Foundation, an organization that raises money for local charities; and currently works as a mindset coach with both her alma mater, the University of Washington, and Compete to Create, a culture accelerant company founded by Coach Pete Carroll and Dr. Michael Gervais.

GMS Staff Raves About Courtney Thompson Addition

“Having Courtney at our events over the past year has been an incredible treat for our attendees.  She brings humility, enthusiasm, energy, and curiosity in a way that completely connects her with the audience.  Her inclusion on our Advisory Staff ensures that we’ll get to see even more of her, and that her talents are more fully integrated into what we teach.   Every day you get to spend with Courtney is a great day, and I’m thrilled that more coaches will get direct access to her experience.” – Chris McGown, Gold Medal Squared Co-Founder

“Excited to have Courtney as a part of our staff for so many reasons. First of all, she just has this amazing energy; it’s infectious. She delivers amazing messages through her volleyball experiences, and we couldn’t have picked a better individual with more knowledge about the game to help relate to what high school and club coaches do.” – Mike Wall, USA Men’s Volleyball Assistant Coach

What Get’s Courtney Thompson Fired Up?

When asked what excites Courtney Thompson the most about her involvement with Gold Medal Squared, Thompson responded: 

“I hope that we’re empowering every kid with the tools and knowledge to be their best, so they can enjoy the pursuit of what’s possible; and the best way to do that is to empower coaches to do the same.”

Gold Medal Squared is thrilled to nurture a partnership with such an accomplished and inspiring person, and has every faith that Thompson will bring an undaunting enthusiasm to GMS, as she does in every other area of her life.

Founded in 1985, Gold Medal Squared is the worldwide leader in volleyball education and innovation.  Over 1000 programs at every level have won championships using the principles learned at Gold Medal Squared events.

Would you like to be a part of the GMS experience? Contact us at

Park City, UT January 2018

2014 GMS Recap

2014 Gold Medal Squared Recap:

2014 was a golden year for Gold Medal Squared. With literally hundreds of League, District and State Championships won by GMS camp and clinic clients, along with multiple international Gold Medals won by GMS Advisory Staff Members, it’s safe to say that life at GMS is as good as it’s ever been!

Back in January, Gold Medal Squared ran our 5th annual coaches clinic at Arizona State University. It’s always great to be in sunny Arizona during the winter months. We had three National Team coaches presenting at the event, along with ASU Head Coach Jason Watson. We will be back in Tempe January 9-11, 2015 for our 6th straight GMS Volleyball Clinic on the ASU campus.

In March we hosted a small clinic at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga California. This is always one of our favorite events of the year. First, the clinic has the same feel as the campus. They are both small and quaint which allows us to spend a lot of 1 on 1 time getting to know the coaches in attendance. Likewise, we get to spend time with our good friend and SMC Head Coach Rob Browning.

Last spring and summer, we made stops in Southern California, Washington, Utah, Texas, Maryland and Massachusetts. We are always flattered and honored that so many volleyball coaches are willing to invest three full days in an effort to hone their craft. The relationships formed during these events are priceless. It’s no doubt one of the most rewarding things we do at Gold Medal Squared. For the second year in a row we had more coaches come through our Coaching Foundations clinic than ever before!

Our clinic lineup in 2015 is similar to our 2014 lineup with the addition of a couple new venues. First, we are thrilled to be hosted by the University of Miami the weekend of January 23-25, 2015 for our 1st annual GMS Foundations Clinic at this location. Jose (Keno) Gandara will be hosting and participating in the event, along with GMS founder Carl McGown.

Concordia University in Irvine CA will be hosting our Southern California event this year. We’re excited about this location and to be working with Coach Trevor Johnson and his staff. To view our full 2015 volleyball clinic lineup, click here

This summer was one of the most successful campaigns in USA Volleyball history and Gold Medal Squared was well represented. First, GMS Advisory staff members John Speraw and Mike Wall led our Men’s National Team to our 3rd ever World League Gold Medal, by defeating Brazil in a tightly contested four-set match.












Not to be outdone, our Women’s National team followed up with their first ever World Championship Gold Medal when they knocked off China in four. This was a major breakthrough for the USA Women. Tom Black and Marv Dunphy (GMS Advisory Staff Members) played important roles as assistant coaches with the USA Women’s team. Congratulations to the coaching staff and the team!

USA Women

Fall is hands down the most rewarding time of the year for our staff at Gold Medal Squared. Not only do we get to communicate with volleyball coaches all over the country about their teams, but we get to hear some amazing stories. State Championships, League, District and Regional Championships, first-time success stories, and more are common during the fall months. There’s nothing better than receiving an email from a new high school head coach who took their program from 2-25 to 25-2 in her first year.

We are excited about all of the growth in the game! It’s thrilling to hear that volleyball matches are selling out. Nearly nine thousand fans showed up to watch the University of Washington upset #1 ranked Stanford University. Lots of beach matches were on television this summer and there’s no shortage of volleyball matches that you can stream or watch on all of the major conference networks and ESPNU. The 2013 Final Four matches were packed and we’re looking forward to another exciting National Championship weekend.

For those of you attending the AVCA convention, Gold Medal Squared will be heavily involved. BYU Head Coach Chris McGown will be giving an on court presentation on developing defensive systems. We will also have a panel discussion on how to best use statistics when training your teams (and when not to use statistics). You won’t want to miss that one!

Thanks again for another outstanding year! We hope to see you soon at an upcoming event. Until then, have a great Holiday Season!

Carl, Chris, Tom, Mike, Marv, Jim, Jason, Rob and the rest of the GMS Crew!

1 vs 1 Competitions

GMS Staff Member Rob Browning shares some ideas on how to run 1 vs 1 competitions.

Volleyball Drills – Objective: 

Competitive serve and pass reps. Measurable results.


Player A serves 3 balls to Player B, who must pass one half of the court. After 3 serves they switch places–Player A is now the passer, and Player B serves.


Good Pass = 2 points for passer

Medium Pass = wash (no points)

Bad Pass/Over Pass = 1 point for server

Ace = 2 points for the server

Service error in the net = -2 for the server

Service error out = -1 for the server


If the serve is in the court but not in the passer’s half of the court, it counts as a service error out.

Serves may land anywhere in the passer’s half of the court.

If a serve hits the tape, but lands past the 10′ line, it counts.

If a serve hits the tape and lands inside the 10′ line, it is a replay. If it happens twice in a row, the second serve counts as an ace.

The passer should go for every ball she thinks is in. If she goes for a ball that is outside her half of the court or off the tape and inside the 10′ line, she will get points for a good pass. Otherwise the serve is ‘out’ or a replay. The passer will not get punished for a medium or bad pass on a serve that is in the regulation court, but outside her designated half of the court.

In the case of a tie, each player serves one ball each. If they are still tied they continue until the tie is broken. The final score, however, will be recorded as a tie, with each player keeping the number of points she earned.

Recording Data

Wins, losses, and points should be recorded so that you know a player’s win percentage, average score, and win loss record versus teammates.

You can set up a matrix so that teammates play each other an equal number of times, or you can run this as a ladder, with winners moving up and losers moving down.

I love this volleyball drill and run it often in my practices.  Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Rob Browning

Practice Execution Means Game Reality

Volleyball Coaches – This is a great article the outlines the importance of practice planning.  Enjoy!

Original Article Written by Jonathan Clegg and Kevin Clark

Ahead of their playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts last weekend, the New England Patriots signed to their practice squad someone named Reggie Dunn.

Dunn is an undrafted, unheralded wide receiver. But he also is roughly the same height, weight and speed as Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, who had scorched the Kansas City Chiefs with 13 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns in the wild-card round.

As a practice-squad Patriot, Dunn was charged with imitating Hilton, giving New England’s defense a head start. Apparently it worked: In a 43-22 win over the Colts, the Patriots held Hilton to four catches for 104 yards.

The Dunn hiring illustrates a little-known scheme that Patriots coach Bill Belichick employs for slowing down opponents: He clones them, stacking his practice squad with replicas of some of the NFL’s most dangerous players.

“I don’t know where he finds these guys,” said former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt. “Every week, they bring in someone. Same height, same speed. It’s like they practice against your twin brother.”

To prepare for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Denver against the Broncos, the Patriots in recent weeks signed to their practice squad 6-foot-3-Greg Orton, a doppelgänger for 6-foot-3 Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas.

“It’s something Bill does,” said Patriots safety Duron Harmon. “To (practice against) a guy with the same height, weight, speed, it helps a lot.”

Before the playoffs began, the Patriots prepared for a possible matchup against Kansas City by signing undrafted running back Sam McGuffie to the practice squad. At 5 foot 10 and 200 pounds, McGuffie is identical in height and weight to Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, while their 40-yard dash times are separated by just four hundredths of a second.

Belichick’s rotating-cast-of-ringers approach relies on a mostly overlooked element of NFL roster construction: the practice squad.

NFL teams are permitted to keep just 53 players on their active rosters. But they also have a practice squad of up to eight players who are eligible to participate in midweek practices, though unable to suit up for games.

Most teams use the practice squad as a means of keeping hold of competent backups who are familiar with their systems and can step in as ready-made replacements in case of injuries.

“A lot of teams just see it as eight more practice bodies,” said Russ Lande, a former NFL scout. “But the Patriots are one of the few teams that understand how to manipulate the practice squad. They’re using those guys to fill specific roles based on their opponents.”

To be sure, a long-standing NFL custom is to sign an opposing team’s former player in advance of a big game in the hope of gaining trade secrets. On Tuesday, the Broncos announced the signing of veteran defensive back Marquice Cole, whom the Patriots released last month.

Five days before their playoff game in New England, the Colts signed former Patriots receiver Deion Branch to their roster. He wasn’t activated for last weekend’s game.

League insiders say that New England’s ringer strategy reflects a broader Belichick obsession with improving the quality of team practices.

Since 2011, the league’s collective-bargaining agreement has limited the number of practices a team can hold, particularly in full pads. But within those constraints, Belichick has remained committed to practices that simulate game conditions.

By bringing in players who are the same size and speed as upcoming opponents and instructing them to run plays the coaches have identified from film study, the Patriots say they are able to get an accurate idea of how to attack or defend a specific player. The team also can try out different blitzes and coverages.

“Our big thing is taking the practice field and bringing it to the game,” said Patriots safety Kyle Arrington. “The saying here is ‘practice execution means game reality.'”

Belichick’s grand strategy is consistent with his philosophy of taking away what an opponent does best.

Lande, the former NFL scout, said that Belichick has long been known for drawing up game plans that focus on stopping his opponent’s most valuable player—usually a running back, receiver or tight end—and forcing them to put the ball in the hands of less heralded players in clutch situations.

“If they don’t have anyone on their roster that can emulate that particular player in practice, they’re going to bring somebody in for a week, or even two if it’s a big game, to give them that look,” Lande said.

Before their last playoff meeting with the Broncos following the 2011 season, the Patriots added a 6-foot-3 receiver named Britt Davis to their practice squad to simulate Thomas. In a New England victory, the Denver receiver had six catches for 93 yards.

Ahead of last season’s divisional-round matchup with the Houston Texans, the Patriots signed wide receiver Andre Holmes to their practice squad. At 6 foot 4, Holmes is less than an inch taller than Texans star Andre Johnson, and they have identical 4.40 times in the 40-yard dash. In a Patriots victory, Johnson was held to 95 yards.

The strategy is inexpensive: Practice-squad players cost as little as $6,000 a week.

Not surprisingly, “Silent Bill” declined to talk about this strategy or its origins. One theory is that Belichick happened upon this approach while facing the heavily favored St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. To practice defending against Rams running back Marshall Faulk, Belichick was able to lean on a replica in his own backfield: Kevin Faulk, the superstar’s cousin.

In winning that Super Bowl, the Patriots held Marshall Faulk to 76 yards rushing.

“That’s Bill for you,” said Brandt, the former Cowboys executive. “He’s ahead of the curve in about 99% of the things he does.”