The Tao of Chip Kelly

Chip Kelly is currently the head football coach at UCLA. As I write this note, the Bruins are undefeated and are competing for a PAC 12 championship. What intrigues me about Kelly is how he runs his practices. The tempo, the designed distractions, the limited amount of talking by the coaches, and the use of post or pre-practice video are all items that can be transferred to other sports.

“To Kelly, practice is for one thing: repetitions. Learning by doing. Teaching and talking take place in classrooms and video sessions beforehand, whenever possible. Stopping to talk during practice is a wasted opportunity and pulls you away from the rhythm of actual games. As much as possible, every aspect of practice emulates the game environment.”

Kelly rarely practices for more than two hours. However, because of his tempo and limited stoppage for talking, he will get in more repetitions than other coaches on the field for a much longer period of time.

Another aspect of Kelly’s approach is focusing on players who can play more than one position and are multi-skilled. He wants his running backs to be able to catch passes. His quarterbacks are capable of running with the ball. Kelly feels that his teams are more challenging to defend with multi-skilled players.

Volleyball coaches should read this book, focusing on how some of Kelly’s principles might be incorporated into volleyball practice. Lots of repetitions, limited talking, lots of video to provide feedback, and everything at game speed are concepts that are relevant to volleyball. I highly recommend this book to any coach interested in a unique but very successful coaching method.