This week’s Coaches Corner is a brief Q&A with the Australian men’s volleyball team Head Coach, Mark Lebedew.
Hopefully everyone knows that the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) will be in Melbourne this weekend. Australia is playing against Brazil this Friday, Argentina on Saturday and Poland on Sunday. I hope to see you in Melbourne, otherwise, the games will be live on Foxtel.
Q - You have been coaching professionally for 20 years, and before that you coached State League and State junior teams in South Australia. What similarities are there between what you do now with club teams and the National team, and what you did when you were coaching a club in State League and State teams?
A - The basic parts of coaching are the same regardless of the team. You need a vision for how you want to play, a methodology for practice, a plan for getting people to work together, and some basic tactics. The only real difference between coaching professional and National Team players now and State League and state team players then is the amount of resources, including time, that are available. Hopefully my methodology and skills have improved over the years, but I the basic principles are the same.
Q - What tactics should coaches watch for in the games coming up this weekend?
A - How different teams manage risk. I predict that two teams will use a low risk strategy and two teams will be more open to risk in order to score points.
Q - What is the biggest limiting factor for success at the highest levels?
A - Team play and a sense of collective purpose. Collections of great players lose to great collectives all the time.
Q - How tall is the shortest top level player (non-libero) in the Polish League (one of the top 3 professional leagues in the world)? In the VNL?
A - In the Polish League there are top spikers around 192cm and setters 180cm. In the VNL it is similar.
Q – Do you have any advice for aspiring coaches?
A - Question everything. Everything you see, everything someone tells you, everything you think you know about volleyball, there is always a better way to do it, but you will never find it unless you question everything.
Alexis was first a South Australian Junior coach in 1993, and is still coaching this year. He has coached national Junior and Senior teams since 1994, in both indoor and beach volleyball. He has coached at the Olympics, in the American college system, has a Masters in sports coaching, and particular expertise in junior athlete development. If anyone has any questions on coaching they would like answered, please email email@example.com and have the subject ‘Coaching Tips Question’.