Home » By Mark Lebedew: Repetitions v Reps

By Mark Lebedew: Repetitions v Reps

by WoV
source: marklebedew.com; Photo: CEV

For clarity, let’s start with definitions…

Mark Lebedew – Photo: CEV

REPETITIONS – are required for learning in all areas; movement, technique, game understanding, tactics and decision making. For the maximum effectiveness, repetitions should include high levels of focus and attention, as well as appropriate psychological and emotional demands. In order to achieve mastery (a great jargon word that means being good at something), a large number of repetitions are required. At different learning levels, and for practical reasons, conditions are manipulated but some must always be present.

REPS – closely resemble REPETITIONS. REPS do allow for a lot of actions in a short period of time, which makes it seem attractive in the context of learning despite low focus and attention requirements and the absence of psychological and emotional stress. They also provide both player and coach of the feeling of useful activity (as in ‘you gotta do the reps’, ‘I gotta get some reps in’). This feeling shouldn’t be underrated, but should not be confused with learning.

I have worked with several setters, who would do their reps every day before practice. They got a coach to help them. They set up their targets. They did their work. They set 100 balls before practice even started, but the first ball they set to a spiker was still on the other side of the net. Every day. They felt good about their work. They had great work ethic. They showed everyone how committed they were to work, but despite thousands upon thousands of reps, they couldn’t set a live ball that a spiker could hit.

I had a player who repped his serve diligently every day. One day he made big progress. The breakthrough we had been waiting for. The next day after practice he got his reps in… as though yesterday had never happened. It was not that it didn’t work quite as well as the day before, but that he did not do one single thing he had practiced. I asked him what he was doing. He said working to get better. When I pointed out to him that he was not doing what he had done yesterday, he had no answer. His goal was not to improve, his goal to do work.

I had a team that went through a period in the season when we had no jump servers to serve to starters in drills and wash games. To make up for this absence of repetitions, we programmed a lot more reps with the ball machine. In terms of total contacts, we did roughly 3x our normal load. But virtually none of those contacts were repetitions. Despite all the reps, our reception quality plummeted and with it our sideout effectiveness and arguably, never recovered.

Like everything, in a well organized program there is a place for reps. And working individually or in small groups it is the best/only option. But that place probably shouldn’t be a large one.

About Mark Lebedew:

Mark Lebedew – Photo: CEV

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 2021/2022 leads VfB Friedrichshafen, while in 2022 he led the Slovenian national team during the Volleyball Nations League.

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 at Amazon here (link https://amzn.to/2JRqTE6).

In 2021, he launched project Webinars and Presentations on Demand. If you are interested for coaching presentations and webinars available on demand, click here.

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