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Personal Vision Statement #2

July 3, 2011 : admin

Another example of a personal vision statement Catie, you are a planner and you have a wonderful day in front of you. In fact, you can look forward to a to a great week; followed by week after week of fulfillment and joy. You have one and only one pe ...

Voo-Doo Volleyball: Learn to say Never to Never, Only and Always

June 23, 2011 Posted in: Uncategorized

For over twenty years I coached volleyball at the collegiate and international level. I was the number one assistant in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, a key advisor at the Games in Barcelona and Atlanta, lead the 1994 USA’s Goodwill Games team to a Silver Medal and was the head coach at the University of Georgia for ten seasons. I had a love for the sport of volleyball and a passion for coaching. During that time I was provide the opportunity to travel the extensively and observer the world’s elite train and compete. I probed other coaches for their insights, endlessly studied film, reviewed statistics and spent hour after hour in the gym training athletes. As the sport of volleyball became increasingly popular in the late 80′s and early 90′s more and more experts began to pop up; they brought with them “how to articles”, instructional videos and coaches clinics. That’s when I started my Voo-Doo volleyball file.

Before moving on let me say that the advice and insights of a great number of coaches has been outstanding and contributed immensely to the sport’s development. There was and continues to be another large group that do little or no harm as they spread the word and shared their understanding on how to teach the game to the future of the sport. “Thou shall do no harm” is part of the oath physicians take before they embark on a medical career and it is advice coaches should adhere to as well.

Then there are the practitioners of Voo-Doo volleyball. To get into this file an article or clinic topic usually began with a phrase like, “to be a great server you must….” or “the only way to be a successful hitter is to….”. These techniques often have catchy names like, “non-linear passing” or “the Panther approach”; sounds good but will it make me a better player? Once, after listening for an hour to a college coach explain (in excruciating detail) that the ONLY way to be a successful passer is to…, I approached him and asked one simple question. If one of your recruits shows up in your gym and proves to be the best passer on the team BUT does not use the “correct” technique what are you going to do?

There in lies the rub. While I will concede there are basic fundamentals to most successful endeavors there is a great deal of room for individual style. If there were a “right” way to do anything, life would be boring and pretty darn predictable. Athletes are unique and if a coach loses sight of that reality they make things for themselves and those they are trying to help much more difficult.

This was never more apparent than when observing the two best serve receivers in the game of volleyball. (Serve receive is critical to success in volleyball and is a skill that requires precise execution over and over again. If a team’s serve receive breaks down they will lose, it is as simple as that.) In the mid 80′s the USA Men’s volleyball team won the International Triple Crown; the Olympics, the World Cup and the World Championship. On that team two players received virtually every serve in every match; they were Karch Kiraly and Aldis Berzins. Without question they were in a class of their own. In addition to their great ability what made them so interesting to watch was that their technique was so dramatically different. If one was doing it correctly, the other was surely doing it wrong. A major light when on for me and it has remained on; respect and build on the unique skills of the individual.

When I left the athletic arena and turned to performance coaching it didn’t take long to discover that I might need to start a new Voo-Doo file. Again, I must stress that there is great deal of very good information out there on how to improve your lot in life. However, there are two problems with the “success in a can” approach and they are both completely understandable. The first has to do with the legitimate need to make things generic if one is attempting to reach a large audience. It would be unreasonable for an author to begin a book by saying, “Jim here is your personalized road map to success”, and then start the sequel with, “Sally your goals can be achieved by doing the following”. By necessity, advice for the masses must be tailored to the average, unfortunately very few of us are truly average. Unfortunately books or seminar speakers that say,” here are the important fundamentals to a successful career now go out into the world and make them your own” produces thin books and short speeches.

For the record here are my “essential truths” when if comes to success, however you choose to define that term.

Choose wisely but when you act, be aggressive.

“Victory favors the bold.”

There may be some basic fundamentals but there is no “right way”.

“Do it your way.”

Rarely does luck play a significant role in success.

“Ed McMahan is dead.”

Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

“No man is an island.”

The second flaw and the reason why so many self-improvement books and seminar binders end up on the shelf collecting dust is that it is difficult for even the highly motivated to reach their full potential on there own. Early on athletes recognized and embraced the need for coaching, the rest of the world has been slow to come to this same realization. It is a coaches job to help articulate the goal, and it is his/her responsibility to hold the client accountable, measure progress, encourage, support: in short, to be there every step of the way until the client has met their goals. As an athletic coach I would tell my team that goal setting is relatively easy, what takes the work is goal achieving. It’s no different in the business world or one’s personal life; reaching your dreams takes hard work, commitment and discipline. A select few can get there without help; for the rest of us we need help. We need a coach.

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