Sunday, July 30, 2017

"If you can't say anything nice...."

Travel the coaching journey for many miles and you hear stories, from players, former and current.

(In total paraphraseology…)

“Holly, you are never going to be a setter. You aren’t fast enough and your hands are terrible.”

(She was 12)

“Chandler, if you are playing soccer for your high school during club season, you aren’t an athlete.”

(She was 15)

“Chandler, you only played one year of club and you can’t pass.”

(She was a college freshman)

“Landon, you will never be a setter or a hitter. Just go pass.”

(She was 14)

“Adrianna, you aren’t tall enough to be a hitter.”

(She was 15)

“Ashley, you will never play back row.”

(She was 15)

“Mac, you are too big boned to get to the ball. Love your hands but you aren’t fast enough to set.”

(She was 16)

These are examples of bloviating Coaches who put walls up on young athletes, in most cases before they are grown, out of puberty or have played the game very long.

Why?

Is it to show the level of internal expertise they think they may have? Is it to nudge a player into the direction that best fits their club team and program? Is it just a need for the coach to flex their ego?

Tough to say but there are enough walls in adolescence for young athletes, especially young women.

Holly went on to set for her college team.

Chandler is now the starting libero for her college team having set dig records her junior year.

Landon will start her college career this season after being named her state’s player of the year….as an outside hitter.

Adrianna will be starting her junior season with her high level high school team…as their OH1.

Ashley, at 6-1, played back row her final year of club.

Mac will be the starting setter on her high school team this season as a senior.

Too slow, bad hands, not tall enough, too ‘big’, can’t pass, can’t hit, can’t set, can’t block…..

We seem to forget one thing in this equation.

We are coaches. We should be helping them get faster, better hands, better passers, better attackers and better blockers. Why do we just look at an athlete and think this is the finished product and their entire career is based on how that club coach or high school coach or club director sees them at that moment?

Our mothers used to tell us the old adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.”

Coaches need to take this to heart. Don’t tell your athletes what they can’t do, lead and coach them to what they can do.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

High heels...

It is a small sorority.

Women coaching Men's collegiate volleyball. You can count on one hand the coaches that fit this bill. It is a daunting task with so many eyes and opinions on everything you do.



Add to that coaching the Women's collegiate program at the same school.


Oh yea... your two kids and a personal life to balance.


Nickie Sanlin, the head coach of the volleyball programs at McKendree University  in Lebanon, Illinois, does just that. Every day. At one time, she was also coaching club in the St. Louis area and continues working summers with USA Volleyball, coaching High Performance and Junior National teams. 



In this 30 minutes interview, Coach Sanlin talks about her volleyball career as both a player and a coach, the influences in her life, how she manages her time and commitments and answers the big question from the front line: What IS the difference between coaching men and women?

Enjoy this interview with Coach Sanlin.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Caught the bug...."

The University of Arizona hired Steve Walker to lead the unknown. A beach volleyball program in the desert. Since his hiring in 2013 and 4 years of PAC-12 competition, Walker has seen his program rise from an unknown to one of the elite programs in the country.


Last season, Walker's Wildcats earned their first 20 win season and their coach the PAC-12 Coach of the Year. He has helped guide several players toward the pairs championships in the last few seasons including Madison and McKenna Witt. As the sport continues to climb, Walker talks about his past, the beginnings of the Wildcat Beach program and where the sport is going.


He also offers up sage advice for those that think coaching Beach volleyball is an easy gig.



Monday, April 17, 2017

"Shrimp tails...."

Lifelong Learner. That's a phrase tossed around like shrimp tails at a Benihanas. What is a lifelong learner and are they actually?

Lifelong learner is a student for life. They still get spring break off and they might blow off reading that chapter for a quick coffee with friends. But lifelong learners figure out, in their own way, in their own time frame what works for them to continue to learn more about what they are passionate about. In our case, volleyball, our athletes and coaching.

Lifelong learning has to be the comfortable jeans you slide on and feel good in. They can't be too constricting, too uncomfortable. Sometimes it's something that by pure accident you come upon and share. It's a tiny light that is always on, waiting to glow a little brighter. 

Follow the path below and perhaps some of these articles, videos and podcasts will get you to think a little bit more about the coach you want to be, the way you want your team to play and the way we want our sport represented. In no particular order and following a recommendation of several, please enjoy the following. 


The Secret to Coaching Success: How Long Is A Piece Of String? by Wayne Goldsmith.

Emotional Agility by Susan David and Christina Congleton.

How I stopped Dealing with Parents by Nate Sanderson

Growing the Love of a Game blog.

The Perception and Action podcast hosted by Rob Gray. 

Echoes beyond the game: the lasting power of a coach's words by Coach Reed. 

Regression to the Mean, or Why Perfection rarely Lasts by Adrian Barnett.

Derek Sivers Book Notes: where an Internet billionaire has jotted down the notes of the last 200 books he's read. Ones that you might pay particular attention to are Daniel Khaneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" and "Ego is the enemy" by Ryan Holiday.

The Max Potential Playbook by Reid Priddy.

The Headwinds Paradox, or why we all feel like Victims by Jonah Lehrer. 

4 Career Lessons Bill Belichek wants all Millennials to Know, (Including his own kids) bySuzy Welch. (Watch the accompanying video too!)

Why Facts don't Change Our Minds by Elizabeth Kolbert

Coach your Brains Out podcast. Recently guests have included Hugh McCutcheon, Andrea Becker, Tom Black, Reid Priddy and John Dunning. It is hosted by John Mayer, Billy Allen, Andrew Fuller and Nils Neilson

How to get better at the things you care about by Eduardo Briceno.

A Note to my Fellow Working Moms as I near the End of My Life by Rachel Huff

The Confidence Gap by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

To Raise Brave Girls, Encourage Adventure by Caroline Paul. 

Why Young Girls don't think they are Smart Enough by Andrei Cimpian and Sarah-Jane Leslie

The Sitting Happens podcast hosted by Jon Aharoni and Dan Mickle. 

Tell us what you listen to, watch or read and help us continue our lifelong learning. We appreciate any and all feedback always and look forward to yours. 




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

There ARE little things....

For nearly every other day during the two weeks of the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil, on the sidelines of the Ginasio do Maracanazinho in Maracana, Mike Wall took his seat as the Assistant Coach of the USA Men's Olympic squad and watched the previous four years of work, research and instruction unfold before him. It's a long two weeks, one that drains everyone involved to the last drop each day, requiring a prodigious revitalization of both body and spirit. 


There are no off days in the Olympic Games.

Mike has signed on for another quad and will be one of John Speraw's confidantes through Tokyo 2020. In this exclusive interview with the Arizona Region, Wall talks about his beginnigs with the sport, his Hall-of-Fame Coaches and what he took from them, his work with Gold Medal Squared and his recollections of the Bronze Medal winning Men's team from last summer.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

More value...

Twenty some years ago, the Az. Region travelled a squad to find out what was up with this "High Performance" program. Very few showed interest but many Region were asked to come and check it out, see what it was all about. At the Colorado Springs airport, a van with USA Volleyball emblazoned on the side pulled up and the most affable of men welcomed them to Colorado Springs. He spoke with a deliberate southern drawl and the Arizona contingency thought this kind and pleasant young man must be one of the best drivers USAV had in their vast motor pool.

Twenty years later, a coach from Arizona was driving athletes from the Sitting A2 program in Edmond, Oklahoma. Arriving the day before in 88 degree heat in late February, the van heaters were on full steam in the 26 degree morning air. Welcome to Oklahoma. The athletes ranged in age, in size, in disability but all relished getting on the court. They loved sitting volleyball.

The twenty years in between saw the young affable driver, Bill Hamiter, take a sport so reclusive in its popularity it was the Howard Hughes of mainstream volleyball tweaks but made it into a culture of growth, science and as only a story like this can end, world domination.


Yes, the Oklahoma Kid, Bill Hamiter, with little to nothing to work with as far as tangible evidence based training or statistics used his education, his coaching prowess and the many lessons winning and losing teach us about life along the way and this past September, his USA Sitting Women's Team dismembered an empire. The Chinese team had beaten the USA in the previous 3 Paralympics, stopping them the last two times with the gold medal at stake.


It took 8 years. Nothing comes easily when you are reinventing a sport. He added speed, he added wrinkles, he out smarted the Chinese who adjusted their game to the adjustments the USA made year after year. This time, the USA women had the answer. This year, they would not be denied.

Sit back and listen to the journey, as Bill Hamiter takes you on his: as a coach and administrator to simply answering a call no one else would and how that took him back home and then world wide. Listen how he utilizes the harshest team culture imaginable and uses it to his advantage. Most of all, listen to a pioneer of a sport that grows in popularity with each passing season. 


Twenty years between drivers, and he is still the same affable Oklahoma Kid. He just has a longer resume' now.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Nah...that's a girl's sport!"

From the corner of your eye, you could see it. Bright pink, the size of a softball and it came fluttering across the crisp morning air and plinked softly into the sand right next to an ASU Sun Devil beach player.

With that, Coach Keenan gathered his six foot eight inch frame and strode across the court picking up the mini volleyball where he had chucked it. He saw something he needed to give feedback on and managing three courts is like being the ring leader at Barnum and Bailey. This was a way to garner attention and not lose his place. Eighteen sand players joining Keenan and his staff in an effort to turn a program in its infancy into a National powerhouse.

The stories surrounding Brad Keenan are to say the least, unconventional. He was the stabilizer and at times comic relief in an indoor season gone awry. He has orchestrated and been in the thick of Nerf gun battles and Super Soaker wars with his team. He is quiet and reserved and as you will hear, somewhat superstitious. But what Brad Keenan is most is a Beach Volleyball Coach.

Here is his interview with the Arizona Region on his past, how he got to ASU and how he intends to coach the Sun Devils in the midst of the country's beach volleyball tsunami.