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DigDug

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Jan 28 11 10:41 AM

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Super long, but heart felt! Almost put in abusive coach thread but felt it was different topic!

 

I agree with many of the comments in that thread. But to echo what was already stated in that thread, there is a clear difference between a "tough" coach and an "abusive" and/or "incompetent" coach.

We went into a situation that felt like a "tough" coach situation.  We went in with our eyes wide open, yet full of trust and support. As time went on, you start to see trends and warning signs that there are gaps in the program and/or philosophy. However, we talked through this with our DD along the lines described above.  I believe we need to teach our kids to come under the authority in their life.  Not all authorities do things just right and kids need to learn to bend their will and personal desire to meet the needs of the program and team. We learn from all authority, some show us what to do and others show us what not to do!  I get that and understand the importance of parents encouraging their kids to work through these situations as young adults.

However, there are times when a coaches poor leadership skills, knowledge of the game and/or philosophy of teaching/training to compete reaches a level that requires intervention.  The question is whether or not parents have the discernment and insight to rightly know the difference and are not simply blinded by the “my DD is amazing” goggles.

The painful reality is finding good, I mean really good vball coaches in high school, is getting very challenging.  If you have desires of your DD playing and training at a high level you must venture down the high school road with extreme caution. There are many coaches who refuse to embrace the evolution of the game and how to train and equip a young woman to play for the long haul.  Some coaches are putting the reputation of the program above the overall health of the girls with no apparent desire or interest in staying relevant or current in light of new ideas and philosophies. Let me be clear, I do not believe this to be intentional!

Most DD's have several spheres (3+) of play in their life.  For example: (1)High School (2)Club (3)Beach (4)High Perf (5)Camps (6) High School Weight Training Programs. The problem is, very few, if any of these spheres interact or communicate with each other about the work load and demand that their individual sphere is placing on our DD. That leaves it to either us ill-equipped parents who are simply good willed but lacking knowledge in such matters or a teen age girl who wants to be everything to everyone and has an err of invincibility to be the one to exercise moderation or restraint. Dangerous combination!  The evidence of this is the increased number of injuries we are seeing.  Specifically issues directly relating to overuse. We have coaches in high school that are driven to build a program for understandable reasons.  To their credit they do a great deal for very little compensation. But in the pursuit of success they create weight training programs that are held during school hours or practice for an unreasonable number of hours.  If practice or training is administered poorly or with a flawed philosophy, this will further complicate the issue of overuse.  Who oversees this very important process? After everything else your daughter is doing, does your daughter really need to be maxing out or lifting with another DD being the spotter? How can one, or even a few supervisors’ oversee young girls of varying skill levels to ensure safety as they load artificial weight onto their spine, shoulders, knees, hips?  Let alone take into account the student athletes extra curricular activities that may be fatiguing the body. How does a teacher or coach discern between a lazy player and one exercising moderation?

Do they know whether or not a girl has practice that night or did the night before?  Do they know whether or not there is a 2-3 day tournament over the weekend? Do they know whether or not an injury was sustained at another event? Are coaches in high school quick to jump to conclusions and label a girl as week or to have poor work ethic because she wants to limit her work out for a couple of days? This can easily become a recipe for a season ending, if not career ending/limiting injury at a young age.

In short, I wish high school coaches would stick to "Coaching Volleyball" I am even fine with a volleyball conditioning hour at high school.  But how about sticking to basic conditioning / agility / plyo / bands / volleyball related activities like footwork – serve receive – passing – blocking – hitting strategies.  Our girl’s bodies are developing in significant ways and we must use their time and talent wisely and with purpose. We need to strategically train both the small and the large muscle groups in a manor best suited for volleyball.  I bet if you polled college coaches they would rather a girl be working on these items and leave the development of the body to a highly trained professional who can oversee and manage the higher risk activity with a purpose and plan individually as opposed to a class of 40+.  Kind of like choosing whether to eat at Golden Corral or Pita Jungle! Both about the same money!

I also understand there must be a balance between quantity of reps and quality of reps.  However, I see the teaching of fundamentals waning in high school. As a basketball coach, I would not tell my boys to shoot 1000 free throws and hope their technique works itself out. I would rather have them shoot 100 and give advice to correct error and improve technique. Even this is not a fair analogy because a basketball player shooting a thousand shots daily will most likely NOT result in injury.  However, a volleyball player taking 1000 swings on a regular, long term basis with average to poor technique will often result in pre-mature breakdown.

 

I simply write this to give parents looking for information and insight, some personal perspective and some idea of what questions to ask when choosing a program. I simply think that in the past, the coach built whatever program he/she felt appropriate and the parents and players just had to deal with it if they wanted to be a part of the program. I fear that talented players are bearing the brunt of the consequences of this type of model. All I really need out of a high school coach is wisdom on personnel management, sound strategy, a little inspiration and vision and some volleyball specific technical training.

 

Lastly, I believe as parents of teenage girls we must be cautious about what kind of authority we allow to be over them. Girls generally do not mind intense coaching as long it has the appearance of being fair, consistent, impartial and generally free of politics and geared toward them improving their overall performance both as an individual and within a team.

 

Maybe I am speaking from personal experience and it is not a fair representative of the whole.  If so, then I apologize.  I just feel that there is more than sufficient reason to at least contemplate building a player’s career without using high school volleyball. If you are a parent whose high school coach does it just right, then you are very blessed and please thank them often! I understand that many wonderful memories, experiences and accolades can come from High School volleyball and I have not reached this position in haste.  I also understand the every parent/player will not reach or even agree with this.  However, if I try to imagine what I would like as a college coach, I think I would prefer a player to spend that 3.5 months in a specific program geared toward 1 on 1 skill training and physical development in a safe and structured environment and come to my program HEALTHY full of good volleyball!  In summary: Not all schools / programs are created equal AND a winning program does not always equate to a healthy program. We as parents are left to find the balance. Hopefully more coaches will strive to create a HEALTHY and SKILLED environment as vigorously as they pursue victories and conditioning.  I think when done properly, the success will come! A high school coach’s mantra should be, "train in such a way that I do no harm and take all reasonable precautions".  If a player wants more, there is clearly an industry of qualified professionals that can help with that, probably right inside your club or at the finger tips of your club coach.

I only took the time to write as I continue to be amazed at the quality of girls and parents playing this wonderful game!

Last Edited By: DigDug Jan 28 11 1:55 PM. Edited 2 times

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VBJunky

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Jan 28 11 10:33 PM

It is a strategy

DigDug wrote:

In short, I wish high school coaches would stick to "Coaching Volleyball" I am even fine with a volleyball conditioning hour at high school.  But how about sticking to basic conditioning / agility / plyo / bands / volleyball related activities like footwork – serve receive – passing – blocking – hitting strategies. 

   DigDug, high school coaches that have their players spend excessive time in the weight room or on the track are coaches that, in my opinion, are either lazy or don't know how to coach/teach volleyball.

The more time the girls spend off the court is less time they have to work with them, or expose their ignorance of the sport.  It is a strategy of theirs to minimize the time spent on actual volleyball drills and coaching.

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DigDug

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Jan 29 11 12:18 AM

Loyal Opp

Sorry about the rant.  For those that know me, that was a point or two.  j/k 

VB Junky - I see your point...

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TX145aFan

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Jan 31 11 3:16 PM

i read exerpts from that, but agree that HS coaches have alot more time with the athletes than club coaches do...but the dd's do most of the growing during club? whats up with that? I agree that HS coaches should utilize their off season and balance with volleyball workouts in the gym, as well as fundamentals on the court

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goldmedalcoach

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Jan 31 11 3:34 PM

I think I've said this before.

I feel like many High School coaches run out of creative drills for all the hours the players are at practice which is why they do so much conditioning. It's difficult even at the club level to keep the players from getting bored.

What bugs me the most is how they start the "optional but really mandatory if you want to make the team" open gyms early in the summer.

If they're not getting proper instruction why bother?

Some of the more talented kids have just completed intense competition at Nationals or other festivals and most of them could really could use a break. (physically and mentally)

I think some High School programs are a big reason for "burn out" situations.

I advocate getting them on the sand courts where they can have fun but still get their "touches".

No coaching, no pressure, just go out and play the game they love so much.

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VBJunky

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Jan 31 11 4:56 PM

goldmedalcoach wrote:
I think some High School programs are a big reason for "burn out" situations.

+1

I know of several, let me make it many, vb athletes that 'burn out' or lose their passion for the sport from their HS experience. 

They want to play to represent their school, they want to play with their other friends who they don't play with in club.  However the HS coach's inexperience, incompetence, indifference, or whatever it may be just plain puts a bad taste in their mouth.    

I've seen some tight nit HS teams in August who are playing fresh from their club experiences get progressively worse as the season progresses because of all the shenanigans the HS coach pulls.  It is a shame really.

Not all HS coaches are that way, but too many are. IMHO.

  

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whipper

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Jan 31 11 6:30 PM

I didn't read all that, and I doubt more than 5 people read it.

I gather you don't think much of coaches? Was there more?

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smhatyou

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Jan 31 11 9:55 PM

whipper wrote:
I didn't read all that, and I doubt more than 5 people read it.

I gather you don't think much of coaches? Was there more?

Whipper....
If you cant be bothered to read it... don't reply.
I think there was a lot of valuable information in this post.

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bearclause

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Jan 31 11 10:22 PM

What's really sad......

Since the talk is about high school, how come I haven't seen one comment about a focus on a high school education.  What would be the use of so many hours a day of training if there isn't time for education?

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DigDug

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Jan 31 11 10:39 PM

Whipper

smhatyou, thanks!.

GMC - I think that is a very valid alternative! (Summer Ross)

Whipper, I know it was long. I simply wanted to communicate that a lot of thought and time went into the comments and it was not a flippant outburst of frustration about my DD's bad experience. Even my wife said that was a little long. : ) To your comment, believe it or not, I care about the coach but feel it reached as point where there is more wrong than right. It took 3 years to get to that point and finally realized by primary responsibility is to put her in a healthy situation. But I also know in the immediate future I will relinquish a great deal of control and will simply trust and pray we have equipped our DD as well as protected her within reason.

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canvbc

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Jan 31 11 11:54 PM

Dig Dug, I think in many instances what you have written is correct and maybe in too many instances the norm, but those spheres you mentioned are problematic from all sides. I have found some club coaches feeling they are the "final authority" on volleyball and can also do as much harm as poor high school coaches with regards to burn out. I have heard of clubs practicing up to 8 or sometimes 10 hours a week (whereas here in Texas the UIL regulation is no more than 8 hours outside the school day during the season and no more than an hour per day in any athletic period in season or off season). So when you subtract matches here in Texas which occur 2 times per week its hard to work out more than say 9-10 hours in season and that would be using a Saturday and no more than 5 out of season during athletic periods. Clubs are practicing some ridiculous amounts when done to the extreme (to be fair most clubs in my area practice an average of 4 hours per week).

But I digress because I did want to address the high school coaching issue and the communication issue.

I understand the frustration with high school coaches because in many instances the coaches are hired as teachers first and coaches second. But similar arguments about bad communication could be made for poor club coaches or parents/players who fail to ask questions or communicate. For instance, if an athlete turns in a medical note at school saying they are restricted from certain activities at school there is no requirement for them to do that same thing with their club. In fact I have seen this happen where an athlete is not allowed any explosive movements or is restricted from running or high impact activities at school (and they do nothing) yet plays in those 2-3 day tournaments because the club coach does not know, care or is not informed about any restrictions. Or the club coach that wants to condition the athlete assuming that they player has not worked out at all at school because they continue to fail in a drill. Or the club coach who keeps repping skills without correction like your 1000 free throw analogy. Some of those top tier clubs sacrifice players for the reputation of the club as you mention some coaches put their programs ahead of athletes.

But more to the point. High School volleyball (more importantly off season) can in many instances help with club volleyball as well as the school program if the high school coach is thinking ahead. Weights for instance should be periodized and tailored to the capabilities of the athlete and use predictive maxes rather than "maxing out" That way an athlete could be told to lift 5 sets of 5 reps at 67% of their max and that weight is varied by the player(as an example 67% for one player may be 95lbs rounded off and another 65lbs). Weights should be done to both strengthen the athlete and help reduce injury. The players also need to be taught correct forms and technique on lifts just like they are taught to hold a platform or swing at a set. This will reduce the occurence of injuries. Running too should focus on anerobic ability with mild cardio added in every so often, not running miles because its what has always been done. Even plyos should be thought out to control the number of jumps (and in many cases landings a player does). Communication with players or checking a few webistes could easily give the coach an idea when major tournaments are up and running and allow them to retool what to do that week.

If that coach is also good they will go to clinics, talk to peers (especially successful ones) and get better with their technical skills for court work. As for college coaches - many hand over manuals to players in the summer detailing a 12 week weight program and if the player has no basis then when do they learn to lift for college (more importantly who supervises them and teaches them to do the lifts?). A good high school off season weight program gives them a better base for college. But you are right too many don't get better and don't think ahead just throwing workouts at players for the sake killing time or worse making a point.

At our school, our volleyball weight program has, overall, reduced common injuries over the last four years. It has made our players stronger and our coach has worked tirelessly to "tweak" what is done in the off-season to help players. Does that mean no injuries - of course not - but the volleyball players at our school are seen as some of the strongest and best conditioned players at the school and achieved a dramatic turn from a losing program to a winning program. The coach mixes weights with plyos/running, teaches lift correctly, modifies when necessary and has recently begun to add in flexibility weight days (low weights, slow controlled movements) to get players stretched where they normally won't by themselves (done on Fridays). Court work for skills is also added in as other sports seasons wind down and gym space opens up. The focus of the weight program is to make players capable of working faster, harder and smarter to allow skills to be done repetitively on the court. For instance how many times does a middle have to retract and run slides or quicks in a 3 day tournament or how oftern does an outside have to dig, transition and attack? Our coach wants players to be technically sound and well conditioned both on speed and strength so that's what the off-season work is for.

I apologize that my response is about as long as you orginal comments but from the sounds of your complaints I guess we better thank our lucky stars that we may just be lucky around here to have our coach.

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canvbc

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Jan 31 11 11:58 PM

Oh, and I think that with the second to last paragraph, that is at least what I hope some high school programs either look like or are even better than, which I believe was the intent of the original post.

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TOOMUCHVB

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Feb 1 11 10:48 AM

Nice commentary. Paragraph 4 is so true! Club parents cannot have club expectations during high school. Expect more? Have a club-level coach train her in addition to high school practices to keep her skills sharp. She'll deliver for her team and be well prepared when club begins.

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canvbc

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Feb 1 11 9:01 PM

Or in some instances you may be fortunate enough (again like our school and others) to have a coach that coaches club as well. Many of the best high school programs in our area of Texas have high school coaches who also coach club (not their own players as that violates state rules) and that helps with technical aspects of a player's development.

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gottawinby2

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Feb 2 11 1:37 PM

My DD will be the first to assign credit for her increased agility, stability, and endurance to her high school coach's [demanding but well-balanced] conditioning program.  Club coaches are happy with the athlete she has become.  It can be done right, especially when the coach is a knowledgeable and seasoned athlete his/herself.

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