gms volleyball

5 Tips to Getting Started with GMS

5 Tips to Getting Started with Gold Medal Squared


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!

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. 



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

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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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!