SA Volleyball League


Coaches Corner By Alexis #1

This is the first of what we hope to be a regular article in V-News for coaches. Alexis Lebedew will be providing coaching tips, based on the current activities by South Australian coaches, or based on specific questions that are asked by the South Australian Volleyball community.

For those who don’t know, Alexis was first a State Junior coach in 1993, and is still coaching this year. He was first an Assistant with the National Men’s team in 1996, and also was last year. He has coached at the Olympics, in the American college system, multiple world championships, indoor and beach, men and women. He has a Masters in sports coaching, and particular expertise in junior athlete development.


The topic for the week is: “athlete management on double header weekends” or, as I often joke, maybe “Winning Both Games” would be a better title. It always helps to have ‘winning’ in the title when you are writing about sport.

With the double header taking place this weekend, we had an opportunity to think about the best way to manage athletes in a competition like this. Firstly, it is something that is happening all around the world right now, Australia is currently competing in the Volleyball Nations League, where they play 3 games every weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) for 5 weeks in five different countries. ‘Ah, but they are highly prepared athletes, they can do anything’ I hear you say, actually, they are most likely carrying injuries, they have had very little or no time off since last August and they are pushing themselves to the edge of their physical limits every time they play. Their physical limits are probably different to our League and Reserves players, but the edge of limits is the edge, no matter where it is, and it takes time to recover. One way coaches in the VNL manage this is by constantly juggling their lineups in order to share the workload amongst all their players. If you look at teams’ lineups over the course of a weekend round, you will see most teams have huge variation. With the very top teams it is almost like they are trying to play the very weakest lineup they can win with, so their top players are able to perform at their best when they are really needed.

‘Yes, good story, but what about me?’ I hear you ask. Ok, here are three tips:

  • Have a plan going into the weekend on different lineups you will use in different sets and games, in order to make sure you get the most out of each game. There is no point in ending up with a couple of exhausted players, and a couple of players who are wondering why they gave up their weekend, regardless of the match outcomes.
  • Trust your reserves for sustained periods, not just when someone on the court has done something you don’t like. Give them a clear role and give them positive feedback on that. You need them to be confident and capable when you really need them.
  • For decades there has been clear evidence that appropriate warmup, warmdown and recovery improve subsequent performance. Make sure you are doing this. If you want your players to perform optimally you are better off making them physically fresher (through warmdown and recovery) than giving them an extra 5 minute explanation on why they just lost the game!
    • Warmdown should be 15 minutes, including active movement and active stretching. I googled ‘Active Recovery’ and found this, which looks fine
    • Recovery can just be a 3 minute shower, as cold as you can handle it. Make sure you don’t have a warm shower afterwards otherwise there was no point in having the cold!

If anyone has any questions on coaching they would like answered, please email and have the subject ‘Coaching Tips Question’.

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