Second series of development webinars starts off with a bang!

CEV, Luxembourg. As many as 285 people (!) – 232 publically registered, plus another 53 teachers/coaches from National Federations involved in the delivery of the CEV School Project – attended on Thursday the first webinar in a second series of four organised by the CEV Technical and Development Department. The attendees accounted for 58 different countries from all over the world! Besides those based in Europe, there were people from Pakistan, Thailand, the Philippines, Vanuatu, Singapore, and more coming together to follow the lecture delivered by USA Volleyball legend John Kessel. 

While building a long resume and history with USA Volleyball, Kessel attended the first-ever FIVB Minivolley Symposium held in Japan in 1985. This information was later transferred to the Junior Olympic volleyball scene back in the USA, and various clinics. Horst Baake and Hiroshi Toyoda hosted that event; Kessel owes a great deal of thanks to these two international leaders for inspiring him to grow the game even beyond USA Volleyball borders. 

John explained to the attendees that they are not ‘only’ a volleyball coach, but rather PEOPLE coach, since they coach:
•    Leadership
•    Values
•    Character
Volleyball is simply the vehicle to achieve these goals and Kessel emphasised that the coaches’ behaviour makes them better at their job, not their beliefs. 

Kessel continued pointing out the fact that many coaches practice for practice, and not for performance, i.e. coaches do drills and practice so that practice looks good rather than practicing real game-like situations. This creates tension later on, when the kid cannot react properly in a game, and the coach gets upset. 

“Never take the pencil from the student” – kids do not learn as much when the coach takes the ball away from them, therefore John invited the attendees to follow these key guidelines: 
•    Let the kids play and learn
•    Be a good listener and observe (in other words, more ears and eyes than mouth)
•    Provide information not criticism, especially for kids/beginners
•    Encourage the kids to build relationships/friendships with other players, even if it is an opponent – this embodies the key values/culture of the Volleyball game. 

As many know, drills are the drugs/addiction of coaches. Coaches tend to love all types of drills and exercises but must take caution, since drilling involves too many contacts and interference from the coach, whereas playing allows athletes to enjoy and play. The coaches should not waste the kids’ time! If they are going to do a drill, coaches should make it directly applicable to the game, since “the game trains the brain”. Moreover, Kessel invited the attendees to use “GRILLS” (i.e. game-like drills), also providing a few examples to this extent. 

Finally, Kessel discussed once again how to be a coach that players remember as an inspiring one. Such tools include the ability to tell stories because this helps players remember facts, plays, etc., variance (from kid’s volley to the elite game, there is always variance in different aspects of the game) and much more. 

Overall, the most important part of Kessel’s coaching philosophy shared was that it is a coach’s job to GUIDE a child’s discovery of volleyball, and give them as many opportunities as possible to have control of the ball. 

The webinar series continues next Thursday, August 20, with a session hosted by Teemu Niemelä of Finland under the headline ‘Children learn more than we think’.

CEV – European Volleyball