Thursday, 9 February 2023
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Volleyball Training

Turning a player into an assistant coach

Can a good coach succeed at any level?

Here’s an interesting question from a Facebook group for head coaches working with new assistants.

For those of you who get an assistant coach who maybe understands how to play volleyball, but doesn’t understand the intricacies of how to coach it, what do you do to help THEM learn how to coach. How do you utilize them?

The poster went on to add, “He doesn’t know the lingo, the specific drills we run, etc.” to provide further context. So clearly it isn’t someone who played for this particular coach. That means there’s a lot to learn in terms of specifics on top of more general concepts. Let me share how I’d approach things.

General expectations

This goes for all assistants, not just those without a coaching background. Start by laying out the expectations and how you do things. Be very straightforward about this. Answer any and all questions you can. You won’t cover every possible thing that could come up, of course, but make sure you hit all all the big stuff. Think of it as a reference point for the “Remember when I said…” conversations that might have to happen down the line.

Explain your plan before practice

A great way to get someone trained up as an assistant is to walk them through the plan for your practice. This is where they can learn terminology, the drills you use, etc. Explain why you’re doing things and their role in each activity. Just don’t expect them to retain it all right away, though. Just like with the players, it can take a new assistant going through a drill or a game to really understand how it works and what they’re supposed to do.

Keep their focus narrow

Over time you’ll figure out the best ways to make use of an assistant based on their strengths, interests, etc. In the early stages as they are learning, though, make sure you focus them fairly narrowly. That gives them the opportunity to get stuff right while also taking in the bigger picture.

Encourage questions

Make it a rule that if there’s any doubt at all, they should ask you. The last thing you want is to have to stop them doing something because they didn’t understand and are doing it incorrectly. That means you have to be open to questions. Obviously, there are times when questions are a distraction you don’t want. Make sure they know when those times are, but otherwise be open to them.

Lots of feedback

Just like you want to give your players feedback as part of their development, make sure…

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