Volleyball Training

Volleyball talent identification – keys and challenges

Volleyball talent identification – keys and challenges

In late 2023, in my role overseeing the English national team systems, I formed a Juniors coaches group in England as part of my efforts to inform and develop the coaches of Juniors players in the country. In April 2024, during one of our monthly online meetings, we had two of our most experienced youth national team coaches as the headliners. Just 3 weeks earlier there was a big national team camp and I wanted the two of them to share with the group their perspective on what we look for in athletes to bring into the national team pathway. In other words, volleyball talent identification.

In consultation beforehand, the two of them came up with the following list, which they shared with the group.

  • Height โ€“ height of action (can the player jump?)
  • Athleticism โ€“ agility, coordination, physicality and power (produce and control)
  • Game sense โ€“ understands space, time and momentum
  • Competitive โ€“ mental fortitude
  • Ball awareness/control โ€“ a good relationship with the ball
  • Adherence to task โ€“ prepared to learn and adapt
  • Resilience โ€“ cope with the bumps in the road
  • Team player โ€“ can help teammates get better
  • Self-regulation and personal management

The reason Iโ€™m sharing this list is that I think itโ€™s a good reference point for coaches and players regarding talent ID. Thereโ€™s nothing a player can do about their height. Everything else on the list can be developed, however. That includes height of action.

I should speak to the โ€œproduce and controlโ€ parenthetical reference related to power. Producing power is probably self-explanatory. Control, however, was presented mainly in reference to incoming power. So balls hit hard at the player. That obviously has tie-ins with Ball awareness/control.

We want well-rounded athletes

Note that nowhere among the bullets is there anything to do with position. Thatโ€™s because volleyball talent identification isnโ€™t about specific positions. Instead, we want players with well-rounded skill sets. Itโ€™s something we try to emphasize in the younger age group in how we structure our competitions. We also strongly discourage coaches โ€“ and kids and their parents โ€“ from pigeon-holing players into positions early.

Iโ€™ve heard a quote attributed to Doug Beal that says, โ€œWe want players who are good at everything, but excellent at two things,โ€ or something close to that. As our sport becomes increasingly dynamic and athletic, we need players who can do…

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