Coaching is hard. I think we can all agree with that. And I think we can further agree that one of the hardest parts of coaching volleyball is teaching blocking.
There are a few reasons for that, starting with the fact that blocking is really, really difficult. Another is that more than with other skills the knowledge of results part of feedback is misleading. The block can be perfect in every way and still not touch the ball. Alternatively, the block can be wrong in nearly every way, and score a point. The following is an example of the latter.
Blockers, especially middles, have to expand their focus of attention to see the whole play develop before and contracting their focus onto the setter. In this example, if the blockers had a wide focus of attention they would see that there are no attackers on the opponent’s left side and that the only possible option is the set to position 1.
Even though the only attack option is in position 1, if we pay attention to the middle blocker, he moves his right. It is a standard, unconscious action of both blockers and defenders to ‘follow’ the setter. That simple movement nearly always compromises the actions that follow it. In this specific example, the middle does not go past his ‘normal’ position but he is still compromised as are every other player’s actions in a chain reaction.
The small, unconscious, seemingly insignificant movement to his right means the middle blocker has to rush to close the block, and collides with the outside blocker in the air thus compromising the quality of the block, reducing the space it takes up at the net and risking a net touch. It also means the third (position 2) blocker must wait before moving and is late to make position, leaving a hole in the block that an alert spiker should have been able to take advantage of. Unfortunately (see above ‘coaching is hard’), the end result of that cavalcade of tiny errors was a block point.
Sometimes you get lucky, especially in the block, but that doesn’t always mean it was a good play, or that you can’t still improve. And sometimes what looks like a missed play, was actually caused by something that happened when everyone’s gaze was somewhere else.
About Mark Lebedew:
Mark Lebedew authors the At Home on the Court Blog. He coaches professionally in Poland, from january 2021 with eWinner Gwardia Wrocław, in season 2019/20 with Aluron Virtu CMC Warta Zawiercie and in the period 2015-2018 with KS Jastrzębski Węgiel. That follows five seasons Germany where his Berlin Recycling Volleys won three straight league titles and a CEV Champions League bronze medal. He has prior professional experience in Belgium and Italy. Mark was also Head Coach for the Australian Men’s National Team. From next season he returns to Germany, where he will lead VfB Friedrichshafen.
Mark partnered with his brother and father to translate and publish “My Profession: The Game“, the last book by legendary Russian coach, Vyacheslav Platonov.
With John Forman, he is behind the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project (link http://volleyballcoachingwizards.com/) which identifies great coaches from all levels, making their experience, insights, and expertise available to people all over the world. The project has produced multiple books, a in e-book format available here ( link to http://bit.ly/34yakou ) or in print at Amazon here (link https://amzn.to/2JRqTE6)
In 2021, he launched project Webinars and Presentations on Demand. If you are intersested for coaching presentations and webinars available on demand, click here.