3 Words of Advice for Coaches before Club Season Starts

As we get prepared for our week, a lot of us are beginning practice for club. Let’s dive into some advice from myself to you for your coming club season.

Personally, I coach a 15s team that competes at a national level with the goal of qualifying for USAV Nationals.

As I’ve coached club, I’ve come to learn quite a bit about various nuances and how to make the small things travel the furthest with your players.

Coaching club is a far different beast than coaching high school.

A lot of the time you only have that specific group of girls for one season and it’s extremely rare if that entire group elects to stay together for the future. This takes the idea of continuity out of the window.

The other factor that proves different is a limitation on practice days and times to practice. You honestly have to make every moment on the court matter in order to achieve goals that you and your team set forth for the season.

Lastly, it costs a lot of money and takes up a lot of time. Club is essentially volleyball with tons of hidden fees. It’s your responsibility as a coach to make all of these things worth it by season’s end

As a new season starts we sit down and read whatever tidbits of information we can get our hands on, here are three bits of advice that pull the club season into perspective.

Women's volleyball team from The Edge Pro volleyball trainer

Taking Stats during a Match

In my personal opinion, avoid taking stats during a match. If you have an assistant coach, have them focus on one area of the game while you focus on the next.

Have your team on the sidelines do their thing to stay involved with the game.

Allow the parents to be parents in the stands. Stats do nothing but create this gray area of hopefully objective numbers, but in the wrong hands becomes entirely subjective and could potentially be skewed.

Keep all of your playing cards in your hands and allow you, as the coach, to do exactly that; coach! Not be the statistician.

If you need stats, film your matches, go back and stat them after you have returned home.

Also, in the process of taking stats and depending on what you have done with them, your team will grow curious as to what their stats are. Now you have created an environment where your team subconsciously values numbers and trends more so than all of the unquantifiable statistics that come with the game.

Instead: If you are more analytical in your game and you must track something, research volleyball shot charts and how to best implement them into your style of coaching. Utilizing heatmaps, shot charts, serve receive numbers etc can best assist your team in delivering real, focused objectives.

You are in a 9 Month Committed Relationship

I know, this analogy may seem strange but really, you are!

No relationship is perfect, and nothing goes as smoothly as originally anticipated. There must be consistent, clear communication on topics in order to keep the ship sailing in the right direction and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you will bump heads with someone.

At the end of the day, you’re both on the same boat and must find a way to work things through over the course of the club season, which hopefully lasts upwards of 9 months for you.

During these 9 months, you are where you are.

You can’t go coach for another club if you randomly decide to. Very rarely can you ever switch to another team within the club to coach them. You can’t just find new players for your team.

It’s your team and you have to find ways to enjoy all of their imperfections much like they put up with all of yours.

Tip: Stick to an outline of communication for parents and families. Sending an email every two weeks updating them on the team. Ensuring that all practice and tournament times are accurate and clearly communicated as soon as they are released. Always sticking up for their kid and remaining as neutral as possible with everyone in the group. Keep the parents happy.

Set Your Philosophies and Expectations From Day 1

Ideally, you are a coach who has a fluid mind that every club offseason you re-evaluate your philosophies and how they worked or didn’t work, this past year that you have coached.

So you go out there, expand your personal knowledge of the game and of how kids and adults work and interact with one another and add and drop tools from your toolbox for next season.

However, if you are newer to club or just can’t seem to find the “right formula” that works best for you, here’s my advice:

Create a philosophy of who you are as a coach and stick to it like glue for that whole season. Sure there are moments where you can break away from the mold but essentially you must be steady and consistent within your team’s life in order for them to achieve levels of growth within their game.

If their coach is constantly tossing idea after idea at a wall and ripping off the ones that stick and changing the team mantra week after week, everything you say won’t work with them anymore. They’ll soon become discombobulated and collapse.

If you love the ideas of “Train Ugly” then stick to them!

If you’re a USAV Purist and have Karch’s full practice monologue’s memorized, stick to it!

I think you get the point.

* * *

Ultimately, we are out here to create an amazing experience for our kids through the medium of volleyball.

Drawing from my previous work as a supervisor at Starbucks I fell in love with their company’s mission statement that has remained consistent throughout the years. Every day we were reminded of why we were here at the dark of dawn to serve coffee to the masses. This is a mission statement I have adapted to my volleyball coaching core!

“With our partners, our coffee and our customers at our core, we live these values:

     Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
     Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
     Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
     Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.

We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.”

It’s that simple.

Good luck to everyone this club season!

Practice Perfection.


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