Coaches Journal 9.12.23

Quote of the Week: “Most men would rather die than think, and many do. ~Bertrand Russell, Nobel laureate

New Content is Coming! Keeping in the theme of using checklists to allow athletes and coaches to focus on specific aspects of a skill, I am going to expand the available resources for coaches. Much of the content will only be accessible to those coaches who have purchased my book, “A Game Plan for Better Practices.” I am considering starting a resource library that will be a subscription-based resource for coaches. I’m not sure about that yet. More to come.

Most Recent Blog Post – We look at Aryna Sabalenka, the #1 ranked tennis player in the world. Eighteen months ago, Sabalenka couldn’t serve a ball over the net with any confidence. After hitting the bottom, she decided that she needed to take control of her fate. She ditched the sports psychologists and went to work on her game. There are items that volleyball players and coaches can embrace. READ MORE

The Keys to a Deliberate Practice– The mere fact of showing up in practice doesn’t necessarily correlate to improving one’s skills. I did a blog recently about the importance of practicing in a deliberate manner to have the best opportunity to improve the skills of a player or team. As high school coaches are in the midst of their seasons and club coaches are planning for their season, keep in mind the cornerstones of player development.

  1. The practice process is intentional. Using as many resources as possible, the athlete will fixate on specific aspects of a skill to foster improvement. Often, the area of focus will be a skill weakness, not a strength. 
  2. The athlete has 100% focus on the task. 
  3. The athlete seeks out feedback on performance. The feedback should be immediate, relevant, and correct.
  4. There are reflections and evaluations of the performance. The evaluations can be in the form of verbal feedback, statistical analysis, video analysis, performance results, etc.

Wisdom vs. Knowledge – There is a wonderful video on the Jim Stone Consulting Homepage by Maria Popova that contrasts wisdom vs. knowledge. Some excellent food for thought!

A Few Observations from the Collegiate Season

Vilmarie Mijica (PUR) sets
  • The quality of serving is getting much better. I see more teams/players serving with increased velocity and accuracy. More interesting is that I don’t see a corresponding increase in errors. It is obvious that some coaches are placing an emphasis on serving tough and serving in. These two items are not mutually exclusive.
  • The reception of the serve is not keeping up with the quality of the serve. Coaches need to examine if the way they are teaching serve-receive is compatible with the current level of serving.
  • The middle attack is effective, with the middle hitters hitting for high numbers. However, they don’t get enough swings. Generally, the middle hitters are only getting about 20%-25% of the attack attempts. The issues with serve-receive noted above are impacting the number of attempts the middle hitters receive. Similar to the above note about passing, should coaches be examining their middle attack to allow the middle hitter to be able to be a larger part of offenses?
  • To a large degree, teams’ success is tied to the abilities of the libero. I don’t have numbers to back up this statement, but my observation is that all the top teams have excellent libero play.

Iga Swiatek on Defending the US Open title and Losing Her #1 Ranking: “The last one and a half years was a time of observing and experiencing how much people talk and write about “defending” titles, rankings, and points. I was surprised sometimes to start to think this way. But I don’t need to defend anything; this is a good moment to write down some thoughts.

Iga Swiatek

“For me, sport is a cycle of constant changes, exactly like everyday life. We can either win or lose, that’s it. It’s so simple. A new season, a next tournament, new opportunities to GAIN, ACHIEVE, not defend. A clean slate. During this year’s US swing, I could win and achieve more, that’s for sure. I know some of you expected more; many of you expected defending the #1 ranking, the US Open title, etc. But I stick to my mindset that when I work hard, develop myself, and do my job, I will create many more chances to WIN, to ACHIEVE my goals, not defend them. The way to do it is to constantly focus on my high standards in what I do and learn from the best in this sport and my team. Yes, what a journey it was as the #1 ranked player in women’s tennis. Thank you for being with me on this journey. I will appreciate this time before I go forward.”

This sounds like a young lady who has and will continue to accomplish great things! A great reminder for your athletes to keep looking forward and working hard to achieve future goals.

Is Deon Sanders Worth the Money for the University of Colorado? The new head football coach at CU, Deon Sanders, has definitely made an impact both on and off the field. By his own admission, he coined the phrase “I ain’t hard to find” which rapidly became the slogan of his recruiting and visibility around the Boulder campus. CU paid quite a price for Sanders (a 5-year contract valued at 30 million dollars). Will he be worth it? Only time will tell, but in the short term, it would seem so.

According to CU, Colorado Athletics alone garnered $28 million in donations in fiscal year 2023. In 2022, it raised $20.2 million. At least some of this can be attributed to the excitement around the new coach. “In fiscal year 2022, [CU] had 15,592 alumni donors contribute a total of $50,846,783, and in fiscal year 2023, we had 13,650 alumni donors contribute $52,785,243,” says Steve Hurlbert, director of communications and chief spokesperson for the school. Merchandise sales increased by 505 percent in December after Sanders was hired. Year to date, sales are up by 69 percent.

Buffs Football became the first team in the nation to sell out of 2023 season tickets, marking the first time it’s sold out of season tickets since 1996. It sold over 22,400 season tickets. The 11,600 student passes it offers were sold in less than an hour.

Despite the hefty single-game price — a minimum of over $100 and much more for most games — the team’s first home game of the year, on September 2 against rival Nebraska, is already sold out. According to Hurlbert, the games against Colorado State University and the University of Southern California are nearly sold out, too.

So, at this moment in time, the money is streaming into the CU coffers. Now, Deon needs to win games.

That’s all for this week! As always, reach out to me if I can ever be of assistance.

~Jim

Jim Stone Consulting