Coaches Journal 6.30.23

Quote for the Week: The most dangerous person is the one who listens, thinks, and observes.” ~Bruce Lee

Load the Muscle to Improve Dynamic MovementIn a recent blog post, I noted that an athlete would move faster if they are already moving, or put a different way, incorporate the “stretch-shortening cycle” to load the muscles in preparation for movement. Many coaches want players to be “stopped” as the ball is attacked or served. I believe it is more important to be “balanced” than it is to be “stopped.” In the video below, you will see the stretch-shortening cycle in action. You can see how the baseball players exhibit a short hop to load the muscles in preparation for movement. This movement is timed to the action of the batter and the incoming pitch. Also, notice how both players will exhibit the same timing for the loading. You will also see Stacey Gordon, who played for me at Ohio State, perform the same loading action. She exhibits a small hop as the attacker is initiating their armswing. As the game moves faster, loading the muscles before performing a skill will lead to an increased speed of muscle contraction.

Terry Pettit Podcast – Last week, I was a guest on Terry Pettit’s podcast, “Inside the Coaching Mind.” Terry and I spent about an hour talking about coaching volleyball. Terry used my book “A Game Plan for Better Coaching” as the primary platform, but we tended to hit on plenty of interesting topics.

Featured Video This Week: On the Jim Stone Consulting landing page, I placed one of my favorite videos by author Brene Brown. She uses the Theodore Roosevelt speech of “The Man in the Arena” speech as a springboard for making points about the cost of being “in the arena.” Her points are very applicable to coaching.

Member Questions – In my last newsletter, I encouraged readers to send specific questions that interest them. I want to take these questions and address them either directly via email, do an extensive blog post, or, in this case, place the question with a brief response in the newsletter.

Question- “My questions are about evaluating players and determining where to place them in a lineup in terms of position.” RS-Wisconsin

  • My Response: This question is worthy of an extended response, which I’ll do in an upcoming blog post. In brief, I have a couple of thoughts. First, players with a more well-rounded skill set are more challenging to defend. By that, I mean players capable of hitting a variety of sets, blocking multiple positions, can receive serve effectively, etc., will be able to play any position in any system successfully, and will be less predictable to the opponent. Also, the most important component to winning is the ability of a team to “kill the ball.” If a player is an effective attacker, find a place for them on the court!
  • If you are looking to specialize a player in a position, you can look at some of the possible requirements of the position.
  • Middle blocker- the ability to move quickly is more important than height. Middles must move 20′ laterally to block, be able to quickly transition off the net to attack, and must always be an attack option for the setter. All of these physical traits require a competitive spirit and the ability to recognize situations and react quickly. Too often, coaches will, by default, place their tallest player in the middle. A tall player that can’t fulfill the above requirements will struggle to be successful.
  • Right Side- If a player is tall, but can’t move laterally, consider putting them on the right side. If they can block, most of the opponent’s sets go to the left-side attacker, which might be a factor. Understand that blocking effectiveness has a very low correlation to winning. So, you might consider a different thought. Put your best attacker on the right side, assuming your setter can backset accurately. I say this for the following reason. Most left-side players for the opponent are not great blockers. They are on the court to pass and attack, not block. Consequently, your best attacker will be hitting against the opponent’s weaker blockers. In addition, middle blockers tend to move less efficiently to their left (mainly due to lack of practice).
  • Left Side – These are your passers, solid attackers, and good athletes that exhibit good movement skills.
  • Setters – The first thing I look for in setters is how well they move their feet. The second item is their competitive spirit. I can teach players to set if they move well and are competitive.

Articles of Interest

Baseball Scouts are Using Artificial Intelligence to Identify Potential Flaws in Prospects – Uplift Labs, a biomechanics company, says it uses artificial intelligence to translate the images captured by the phone cameras into metrics that can quantify elements of player movement. The data Uplift generates can detect players’ flaws, forecast their potential and possibly, flag their potential for injury. Will volleyball coaches begin to use advanced technology when evaluating prospects instead of the usual metrics of “she’s tall and jumps high?” READ MORE

Can We Heal ACL Injuries Without Surgery? – Almost all knee experts considered torn ACLs irreparable, with surgical reconstruction usually required to keep the knee functional. But the new research, which focused on 80 injured knees, found that many torn ACLs can apparently knit themselves back together and heal naturally — reducing the need for expensive and often painful surgery. READ MORE

Phonics Is the Key For Childhood Literacy – “American students continue to suffer the effects of pandemic learning loss, as this week’s miserable National Assessment of Educational Progress scores demonstrate. But school closures and lockdowns explain only so much. If you truly wish to understand the dysfunction plaguing U.S. public schools, consider the remarkable story of Joel Greenblatt. A hedge-fund manager with no training or experience in education, Mr. Greenblatt nevertheless figured something out 20 years ago that New York City’s sprawling $38 billion school system is only now starting to realize—phonics is the key to early childhood literacy.” READ MORE

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That’s all for this week. Have a great July 4th Holiday!


Jim Stone Consulting