Coaching is a complex job, there’s more to it than people think – or maybe want to believe. Coaching also carries with it a great responsibility. Athletes, staff members, institutions, and sometimes countries will invest their time and energy into the Team that you are leading. They’re giving you their lives and their resources with the expectation that you can help them achieve a common goal. As the coach, you need to respect that investment and do everything you can to generate a decent rate of return. Ultimately we are service providers; we are facilitators of change and achievement. It’s a job like no other, it’s special and unique, and when someone calls you ‘coach’ it should be because you’ve earned the right to be called that.
Generally speaking, coaching requires strong character (honesty, integrity, and consistency), knowledge of the game, and a solid grounding in the fundamentals of teaching, communication, and sports science. Now, given that there are a lot of books out there on coaching volleyball, and an exponentially higher number than that on coaching in general, what’s so special about this one? How can the information contained in these pages help you become a better coach? Well, in my opinion, this book is different. In fact, it’s one of the best collections of anecdotal volleyball knowledge I’ve ever read. Ard and Mary have interviewed some of the best coaches, not only in North America, but the world – and most importantly, they’ve asked the right questions and gotten some great answers. All of the information you need to coach a team (teach, train, develop team culture, and compete) is contained in these pages. There are no lists, there isn’t any spoon feeding going on – but anyone who can read between the lines will find the principles required for building successful (in all of its numerous definitions) Teams and programs.
I never really planned on being a coach. It’s just something that happened while I was trying to do something else. It was initially a means to a different vocational end. Fortunately I was afforded some opportunities to work with, and learn from, some of the best coaches in our sport (McGown, Dunphy, and Beal, to name a few). I also had the chance to play Volleyball in different countries and see the sport through some different philosophical lenses. The culmination of these experiences and interactions, combined with my academic preparation, were critical in my coaching development. And here’s the point – when I read this book, I see in these pages a lot of the lessons I was fortunate enough to learn early in my career. There are different ideas and methodologies presented, different cultural norms and values, but the principles of coaching, teaching, and functional team dynamics are all in here. The challenge for you, the reader, is to figure out which of these principles you should apply to your coaching. What can you learn from these successful and experienced volleyball coaches that will help you realize your Team’s collective potential. Good luck and enjoy the journey.
2007 NORCECA Championship “Best Coach”
2008 Olympic Gold Medal
Photo with kind permission of USA Volleyball.