What are the magic drills that make some teams so good? Big secret: it's not the drills. There is no magic.
Recently, I spoke to a group at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center about creating a new online coach education course for all sports. It’ll be free with an aim of giving more kids great experiences in sport leading up to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As we say in summary of long-term athletic development: decide slowly. Keep as many kids for as long as possible in as safe and positive a learning environment as possible.
I focused on the priorities we as coaches must have in development.
If you develop the player, the skill will develop, too, but the reverse isn’t guaranteed.
Too many coaches focus on the player and not the person or on technique instead of leadership and the mental game. When I ask coaches how much of the game is mental, they answer about 80 percent. But when I ask how much they train the mental side of sport, they respond about 10 percent. This is a big canyon we all must bridge.
I just completed teaching an FIVB Level 1 coaches course for the Jamaican Volleyball Association. Unlike my two months working in Bonaire earlier this spring, this course was online: four hours each evening for two weeks. We focused on creating an optimal learning environment as we all need to win the learning competition over the athletic one. Training in reality, including using the net at all times, is a difficult concept for those who seek to teach through drilling rather than playing. The desire to practice so practice looks good versus the chaos and randomness of the game is also powerful.
I send this blog to USA Volleyball after watching the USA Men come back from 0-1 in the Volleyball Nations League Quarterfinals to win 3-1. Seeing my son walk off the team bus in Italy and be one of the game-changers on the bench cheering on his teammates….it is a dream come true for him. That all started with playing doubles and lots of other sports and giving him a love of the game.
I thank all who read this Growing the Game Together blog over the years for always learning and sharing your wisdom with players of all ages.