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BIGHITTER

Posts: 185 Member Since: 02/24/11

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Dec 17 12 6:43 AM

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I am coaching a U14 open girl’s team. Last week I was working with my hitters on their 4 step approach when the club director stepped in and corrected what I was teaching them. Which is; forward leaning, arms down and accelerate on the balls of their feet. He wants the girls to start standing straight up, arms to their side and step out onto their heels for steps one and two.

He told me this is how Gold Medal Squared wants hitters to approach.  I later found this video  and sure enough the hitters are approaching standing straight up, accerlerating heel to toe.  The presenter states the method is endorsed by Dr Carl McGown, one of the founders of GMS.

So now I am a bit confused. I know from an athletic point of view trying to accelerate heel toe is complete nonsense, mechanically it can’t be done. I also know from watching hundreds of collegiate and top club hitters none use this "standing up straight heel toe” acceleration method. When they transition off the net, they land behind the ten foot line with the right foot far forward, aggressive lean and accelerate on the balls of the feet. On serve receive, after they shuffle out, they lean forward on their first step to the balls of their feet and continue to accelerate in this pattern from there.  

This video depicts what I believe to be the correct way and what I was teaching my players  

If GMS is advocating the stand up straight heel toe approach can someone please make it make sense?  I am not opposed to training this, I just don’t understand it.

One other point that I am a bit confused on is the second step coming down at or near the ten foot line. This also is something he is suggesting I direct my players to do. I agree with this for all but one of my hitters.  I have one who is really physically advance for her years, she is already 6’ and very athletic. For her to place her second step at the ten foot line is wasting at least 20% of her acceleration.

I want her second step to land about 2 feet behind the ten foot line so she can explode off of her second step. This still puts her in the jump zone but with far more speed than if I demand she place her second step at the ten foot line.  If she did, she would have to back off her speed, which again makes no sense (at least to me). 

I look forward to your input.

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SnareMV17

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Dec 17 12 12:21 PM

Can't speak about all the technical biomechanical jargon at the beginning of the post, but I can tell you that GMS actually says "second step on OR BEHIND the 10' line." Taller, more athletic types who accelerate faster and really do a strong Small-Bigger-Biggest will need to step behind it. This also assumes you're trying to hit a ball set between about 3-5 feet off of the net. Doesn't need to be any different for middles or right sides either, but I'm sure plenty of people will invent reasons in their own minds why it should be.

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dftsmile

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#3 [url]

Dec 17 12 10:57 PM

I think these two approach techniques are a lot more similar than you are making them out to be.

The keys the LMU coach points out in his video are that as the approach progresses, the attackers steps need to get longer and faster. This happens for all four attackers in the two videos. This is what you need to key on in my opinion, not the extraneous techniques of how the first two steps are taken.

It seems to me that "standing straight up" and "heel to toe" directives are simply cues to help exaggerate this slow to fast progression. I'm certainly not GM2 certified, so maybe somebody on her can confirm or deny.

Comparing the 4 approaches posted above, they differ only in the first "right" step. Once they are on their first "left" step, they're all leaning forward, arms slightly forward. I think you are worried about what is the least crucial part of the approach so it is one I rarely worry too much about and allow whatever is more comfortable for the hitter. What does need to be instilled is the small to big and slow to fast approach.

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BIGHITTER

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Dec 18 12 8:44 AM

I went right to the source and no GMS is not advocating the first approach as described.  They simply want to focus on the hitting keys and let the girls natural movement patterns develop within those keys.  Slow faster fastest, arms down back and up, bow and arrow, hit with torque. 

This is what I teach my kids, I don't typically get down in the weeds, "simple is best."  The whole ball of foot, heel toe was me breaking it down as a coach for my education. 

With that, however, there are traits or sub-keys, if i may, that separate good hitters from bad hitters.  I am not talking about physical traits, but mechanical functionality.  What has been your experience in trying to correct these small "glitches" in a hitters mechanics that are separate from the hitting keys?        

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alexsi

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Dec 18 12 10:59 PM

We asked Carl McGowan the same question when he helped us with our first week of practice this year - he was very clear - "no we don't teach that, we don't talk about it at all" (referring to heal-toe). We have one hitter who practically tippy toes up to each of her hits. We pointed her out to Carl and he basically told us that if she was comfortable doing it, then that was just fine.

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vbdog111

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Dec 20 12 1:24 PM

Bighitter -- don't worry. You are NOT alone as a coach coming back from one of their seminars with that impression about changes in the teaching of one's attack approach. We sent a few coaches to a GM2 seminar one or two years ago and they came back with the EXACT SAME impression. Went through the upright (NO lean), heel-to-toe crap. And they were adamant that we were teaching it ALL WRONG. Totally drank the kool-aid. So...I asked them to scour youtube to look at as many of the best hitters in the world and the collegiate game to see what they were doing. It ended the conversation.

Originally, I passed it off as GM2's way of trying to appear on the "cutting edege" with a promise to offer something really different and forward-thinking (as a marketing tool). After all, there are many, many groups trying to make money off the coaching clinic circuit and video industry. However, after hearing some of you who claim to have asked McGowan about these actual techniques, I'm thinking something else--McGowan may say that he is not teaching or promoting heel-to-toe or upright prep stance, but what I fear is happening is that, as these ideas are moving from the originator's head to the mouths of various presenters, the ideas are getting contorted somehow. By the time they arrive in the ears of many coaches in attendance, the result becomes something the originator never intended. Who knows, but it's interesting that we had a number of coaches who came back with the same understanding.

Last Edited By: vbdog111 Dec 20 12 1:30 PM. Edited 1 time.

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alexsi

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Dec 20 12 2:04 PM

vbdog111 - I think you have it right here.  There is definitely some de-gradation in the message as it's gets reinterpreted.  As one example, we've been teaching girls a specific set of footwork for a jump float serve and a different set of a top spin jump serve and being very clear with them that there is a specific way to do it because that's what they showed us at the GMS clinic. 

Then I turn around during the first week of practice and Carl is teaching one of our OH's to do a top spin jump serve using the footwork from the jump float. I'm like "Carl, can you do that?" and he says "Sure, why not? She's going to have a killer serve this way and it's anatomically correct." So I picked my jaw up off the floor and went back to coaching ;-)

My learning:  Don't be too dogmatic when your following what GMS says - they have some really good guidelines and it's a great way for new coaches to quickly learn a bunch of what you need to know, but even the leading GMS coaches (Jim at UW, Chris at BYU, Tom at LMU) use them differently and are constantly pushing/adapting the system to try and make it better.

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dftsmile

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Dec 20 12 3:07 PM

It may have evolved like Toshi's up-down/down-up passing. Something that the coach used to help one individual grasp the concept. People see it and take it as dogma.

It makes sense for a kid who can't grasp the slow to fast concept. Standing upright will mean the first step of your approach is slower than in a loaded position. Same with heel to toe - it's obviously a slower movement than moving on the balls of your feet.

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BIGHITTER

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Posts: 185 Member Since:02/24/11

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Dec 20 12 3:35 PM

Glad to hear I am not the only one a touch confused by GMS.  My director is so far in the GMS box he has lost all ability of reason.  Just another example, I had a hitter that was loading her arms wide and no matter what we did she just couldn't reach straight back.  After doing some film analysis I discovered she was moving her arms back with her palms to the floor, not up towards the ceiling. 

So I started having her be mindful of the way her palms were facing as she loaded.  I was told, "that's not simple, I shouldn't have my girls focusing on such small things."  The way the humerus bone rotates in the shoulder socket with the palm's down precludes loading with the arms straight back, it can't be done.  So without addressing this one small item the hitter will never be able to load properly.

On the heel toe thing, I brought this up to a high level D1 coach and he told me to just focus on the keys and the heel toe issue would work itself out.  He followed that up with some video and told me he has never had to address any issues with heel toe.

I thought, "of course you haven't, if a girl approached heel toe she is walking by definition, therefore she would never make it to a D1 level program." 

When a girl naturally moves with athletic patterns, the keys work well, you don't have to address heel toe or palms up or down.  It's when a girl does not have these naturally occurring patterns that "sub-keys" need to be addressed.  Sure wish GMS would develop a list of sub-keys, it would really make my coaching life easier at the moment.         

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alexsi

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#10 [url]

Dec 20 12 3:42 PM

Good points. There are definitely some things that Div 1 coaches don't ever have to deal with and thus aren't really addressed by GMS materials - like tryouts for instance, or teaching players what their relative position on the floor is or who they need to stand next to in rotation 2. No one makes it to Div 1 who doesn't have those down already.

I should note, that even with all that said, I'm pretty happy with GMS. Great set of super helpful principles and techniques and a staff that is super helpful and always willing to answer questions over email or by phone. I go to their clinic here in town every year and always feel like I'm a better coach as a result.

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SnareMV17

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Dec 20 12 5:19 PM

I still find it hilarious that whenever I hear people talk about GMS, it's always something about some technical detail like swing blocking, or how the passers tilt their shoulders, or some tiny detail of the approach. It seems like a lot of people (not saying any of you) are completely missing the point of GMS. GMS comes out and says it themselves: "There's no right way to do any of this". Yet, we see all sorts of cases on boards such as these where coaches clearly don't grasp the concepts of designing and running effective training sessions, or not trying to do tactically what you can't do technically. It's not as if GMS is the only source of this information. It's splattered all over the USAV site. It's in all of the ASEP texts. It's everywhere. GMS is not a cult of swing blockers, it's a set of principles, some of which have to do with some simple technique things.

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