Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Standardization: A program or a series of teams?...
Tue, December 15, 2009 | link
Do you run a program or a series of teams? Do you have standard set calls, a standard set of key words and phrases throughout
Whether a club or school program you will benefit from this idea. In general. your players and coaches benefit from consistency
from year to year, team to team, and coach to coach.
It’s fairly easy to standardize offense as far as terminology and training go. Offense is mainly timing and repetition. The
offensive system is a little more difficult. Differences in personnel as well as coaches’ preferences flavor each team. But
even with those differences, standardization on set calls is easy to maintain. If in your system a “B” refers to the same
set on every team, then a player who changes teams will not be lost when told to hit a “B” on the new team.
While this seems like just common sense you’d be surprised at how many clubs and coaches don’t subscribe to the idea. Whether
it’s because of the way they learned the game, where they are from, or just plain ego, they insist on their way and no other
way will do.
This is not all that hard to deal with where offense is concerned, but defense and floor game are a whole ‘nother matter.
Most defenses are based on formations. All concepts of formations generally agree that you must have a block, tip coverage,
a defender in the left back, a defender in the right back, and a defender in the middle back. The different defenses put different
players into each of those positions (the exception being the block).Those positions even change within the defense depending
on where the set goes.
Your players have to remember that.
Every coach has their own interpretation of adjustments. Ask 5 coaches where tip coverage comes from in a perimeter defense
and you’ll get 5 different answers.
When one defender isn’t very good at her position, many times the coach will make a team-wide change rather than simply make
that one player better at her job. This is a direct result of her position not being standardized. If it’s not standardized,
it’s not quantifible and repeatable.
Again, the players pay the price for this. They must remember every detail we give them, when to apply those details, and
do it all on the fly while that big girl on the other side og the net is pounding the ball at their heads.
Sound ridiculous? Yeah, it kinda does, doesn’t it?
But it’s what we do.
In the basic BODM Line system the front row player must remember “I set the block, I close the block, or I cover tip”. The
back row player must remember “I find my view, then dig-or-go”. Each concept clearly defined, clearly teachable, clearly repeatable.
In all situations, at all levels of play.
How much better will each of your teams and all of your players be if they all had this same consistency?
Monday, December 14, 2009
How is that easier!?!
Mon, December 14, 2009 | link
A lot of coaches I talk to want to know just how can teaching a read defense be easier than memorizing a formation.
They can teach a formation easily in one practice. They can teach more than one formation in one practice.
Yes, you can teach that formation in one practice. And, yeah, it’s a lot easier for you. “You go there, you go there, and
you go there.”
Making it work, however, is another thing entirely.
Does that formation create movement?
Does it clearly define your defenders’ roles in relation to one another and in relation to the action on the other side of
How many things will you need to add for situations that come up?
How many “adjustments” will you have to make over the season?
Do you ultimately find yourself saying things like “when SHE hits, go HERE” or “when THIS happens, go THERE”...? How many
combinations do you think your players can remember?
This is what happens when we try to make one formation cover all the possibilities on the court. Or two. Or three. There are
literally thousands of positions the ball, the attacker, and the block can be in.
That means thousands of matching formations for the floor defenders, and no real way to know ahead of time which one to use.
A read defense, when properly taught, is not BASED on a formation, but rather CREATES the defensive formation appropriate
to the situation. Since it’s creating the formation dynamically, on the fly, it creates the movement we want to see in our
The positions our defenders are in as the attacker is contacting the ball is our “defensive formation” and that will be different
at EVERY CONTACT OF THE BALL. Then they go to actually play the ball, which changes the formation yet again.
Properly taught means including the location read (concept 1, “where to go on the court”)), the interpretive read (concept
2, “is the attacker hitting toward me or not”), and what to do about it (concept 3). To be a little more picky about it, you
have three back-row positions and each position is different, so that’s technically 9 concepts.
9 pieces easily taught to a team in a single session. Primary Read (location read) for left, middle and right. Read the hitter
(is she hitting at me or not) and what do I do about it in either case (Dig-or-Go) for left, middle and right.
Trouble shooting boils down to three questions. Did the defender make her Primary Read (location)? Did she read the hitter
correctly? Was she in Dig-or-Go?
Which sounds easier to you?
Now, is this meant to be an absolute? That my way is the ONLY way?
OF COURSE NOT.
You can approach team defense through formations. It works. My point is that it's not the easiest way, the most efficient
way, and it certainly isn't most fun way.
You want to have fun. You want to have success, and you want it to happen sooner rather than later.
The BODM Line is a pretty good alternative.
Friday, December 11, 2009
The gloves come off...
Fri, December 11, 2009 | link
A club coach’s question: “I’ve got a very inexperienced 16s team. They are athletic as all get out. But they just don’t have
volleyball experience. How can I teach them The BODM Line? There’s too much going on for them to handle that on top of teaching
them to set and attack, let alone just getting their ball control to a reasonable level. I know they need to read sooner or
later, but that's just too much. No way. Maybe later in the season.”
You’ve got it backwards. That’s exactly the reason you should WANT to start them with The BODM Line.
The biggest challenge to ball control is not knowing where to go on the court. Not knowing how to read gets in the way of
knowing where to go the court, and not knowing where to go on the court gets in the way of ball control.
No ball control gets in the way of successful offense.
Successful ball control leading to successful attacking is, by definition, successful team defense.
Successful team defense comes from reading.
Reading is in two parts: the location read, then reading the attacker.
The BODM Line breaks the location read down into 5 understandable, repeatable concepts.
The BODM Line breaks reading the attacker down to into 3 understandable, repeatable concepts.
So if A equals B and B equals C, then the key to truly successful offense is The BODM Line.
And you want to leave it until “later in the season”.
Friday, December 4, 2009
A question regarding “What do you Remember?”
Fri, December 4, 2009 | link
Got a question from Jesse in Texas about the last blog:
“Ok I get what you are saying about what my players remember from training. But I’m not too clear on where you’re going with
the coaches’ version of it. What does it have to do with the defensive system you teach?”
Ok, good question. The coaches’ version isn’t quite the same as the players’ version. The coach's trap is falling back on
"what I DIDN'T have to do".
Most coaches remember best the most successful teams they’ve had. The most extreme version would be the D-1 top-level coaches.
Great level of competition, high level of play.
I’ve talked to a couple of these coaches. They generally come at me with the same theme. “Why should I listen to you when
I won two national championships ten years ago? It worked for me then, why should I change it?”
Well, you won your last championship ten years ago. You haven’t won one since.
What’s different? If you are teaching the same things you did then the other difference must be the level of competition or
level of your players.
Very specifically in regard to team defense, the instinct and talent level of those players made up for what you weren’t teaching
them. If you are like 90% of the coaches I see you remember something like “I ran a modified rotate/man-up. They learned the
formations and that’s what worked.”
Pressed further that coach will likely say something like “geez they were so good. They could move, they could read, they
never let a ball get to the floor, they were fearless. All I had to do was tell ‘em where to go and they did the rest. The
kids today, well, they just don’t get it”...
Their instincts kicked in and “they did the rest”.
“The rest” is what to look for, where to look for it, and what to do when you see it. Reading. What The BODM Line is all about.
You can remember “They could move, they could read, they never let a ball get to the floor, they were fearless. All I had
to do was tell ‘em where to go and they did the rest” in which case you now depend on your level of recruiting for continued
OR...as a coach, you can remember the things that you taught them them made them successful. The things that made their defense
work. When you do that, those things become repeatable, and you will have a higher level of success with every group you coach.
If you aren’t sure what those things are, well, maybe that’s why you came to this site in the first place.
That’s The BODM Line.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
What is repeatable and what do you remember for next time?
Sun, November 29, 2009 | link
Just finished the High School season and watched an interesting contrast in some of our players. We had several players, while
not really beginners, were very much novices at playing the level of game we coach. We have a great defense and we run a fast
offense with a certain amount of deception. We need to do this because we aren’t stacked with a bunch of big bangers. We are
in a very competitive conference. In order to be competitive, we’re running a fairly advanced level of play with a lot of
fairly inexperienced kids.
This causes some interesting situations, particularly in the mental side of the game.
One thing in particular I noticed this season revolves around what players “remember for next time” when they learn a new
skill. The some concept applies to coaches as well, but we’ll get to that later.
So imagine a young “home run king” stepping up to bat. Here comes the pitch. He takes a breath, closes his eyes, swings as
hard as he can and belts one over the fence.
What does he remember? Certainly he remembers how good it felt to hit, run the bases and have his team waiting for him at
the plate. But what does he remember about the swing? Getting up to bat?
What if he remembers “hey I closed my eyes and swung as hard as I could”? Is THAT what’s going to make him successful the
next time he comes to the plate?
He SHOULD remember his stance. His balance. His weight shift. His calm focus. His grip on the bat. Which bat he chose. His
timing. If he does, golden. If he doesn’t, he’ll struggle.
So, back to volleyball. A hitter, mostly middle. Going over and over everything to turn her into a reliable, effective attacker.
Transition. Approach. Timing. Communication. Position under the ball. Seeing the blockers.
She goes up, gets off a good swing, beats the block. Celebrates. Happy she got the kill.
Then immediately goes back and forgets everything that got her there. No transition, no communication, poor timing, bad position
on the ball. Those little pain-in-the-ass details. Back to hitting the ball into the net. The bottom of the net.
She remembers that she swung hard and how good it felt.
A constant struggle all season.
By contrast, another hitter that believed early on that if she worked on those pieces, and didn’t try to hit the crap out
of the ball every time, the power would come. Her approach, footwork, timing, communication all becoming more and more automatic
as the season progressed. And guess what. Not only is she hitting smart, she’s hitting hard. Solid. Dependable. Golden.
She remembered and worked on all those little pain-in-the-ass details.
Oh yeah, she gets to celebrate too. A lot.
So why do you care? What do you do with this?
If you are simply aware that some (or all) of the players on your court are only remembering the “swing hard” part, you can
direct your attention accordingly. Go back to those details as often as it takes to not have to. You can identify what the
issue really is other than “she just doesn’t get it” or “she’s not trying hard enough”.
Once you quantify it you can deal with it.
What do you remember as a coach? Do you remember that awesome, physical, hard hitting team you had that were so good that
you “threw balls at ‘em and got out of the way” all the way to the championship? Or do you remember that struggling, hard-working
group of over-achievers that took every detail you could think of to squeeze out a second-place finish that surprised everyone?
Do you remember teaching all the little pieces and relishing the results or do you remember standing back and basking in the
glow of that team that was so good anyone could have coached them to a winning season?
Which team do most groups more closely resemble now and which way do you prefer to coach?
Just food for thought.