Posted in Coaching

Simple “rules” are often the best

After looking through some old blogs and searching around for something to procrastinate from study, I came upon Setter’s Rules by Mark Lebedew. It discusses some basic rules for executing setting in volleyball. I have previously had discussions with a number of people about these rules and found it interesting to read over it again.

These “Setter’s Rules” came from Harlan Cohen, an American volleyball coach who had been involved with various level, including the US National Womens Team.








It got me thinking about another conversation I previously had with Alexis Lebedew (Mark’s brother) about why should we limit junior athletes because we think something is too difficult for them? If we limit them how can they ever be expected to improve?

These setters rules are simple, and specific, but still provide scope for vast differences in technique and style. What they do however is say the responsibility (rule #1), and a minimum standard (rules #2 and #3). Other than this the rest is up to the coach and athlete to work out for themselves.

Why shouldn’t all technical “rules” and directions be simple and specific? I am regularly in discussions (and arguements) with coaches about how something should be done, or what the best way to do it is, and undoubtably these conversations talk about tiny little technical aspects that at the end of the day are probably not the most important part anyway.

Maybe the best way to teach a skill is to keep it as simple as possible, and let the athlete develop their own individual tendencies around that. The only issue then is that if a different coach comes along to work with the athelte, are they going to have the same philosophy? Or will they want to force a particular style on the athlete that will then alter what they have done with you? Often coaches want to do something spectacular to show how clever they are, and what a good coach they are, when in reality it takes away from what they are trying to teach.

In the Australian Junior Womens Program, the technical skill of passing has documents with up to 20 skill keys, when in reality, the main one that is focussed on and really the only one needed is “platform to target”. This is the simplest of keys, but very clear and has a minimum standard, if the reult is different to what you want, chances are it can be corrected with this. You can always be further develop and progress the skill, explaining the way the platform should be held and the footwork involved and the way you aim and move the platform etc. but at the end of the day, if the platform is pointing at the target, then the ball will go that way. This simple instruction will also allow for the athlete to add their own characteristics and be able to best use their natural physicality and movement patters, without taking away from what is needed to perform the skill with technical accuracy.

If you allow for greater and more difficult things to happen they may just do that, if the environment is controlled so that only the desired task can be completed, then the athlete will never achieve more that is required.

Posted in Uncategorized

Social Media and Sport

Yesterday there was an article in The Canberra TimesPay them not to tweet, about whether or not professional athletes should be paid not to use social media. In the article there is discussion from Keith Lyons about professional athletes having media training and other eduaction and welfare support. This training is undoubtably invaluable to these athletes and those that learn from the information are able to have significant positive media expoosure to enhance their careers and even sport as a whole. Should this mean that they are provided with further financial incentive for good media presence?

A professional athlete makes their money partly through their playing contracts, but also through endorsements and public appearances. Media exposure has a significant impact on the money that will be involved in an athletes marketing value. This basically means that they already have a financial incentive to promote good public media presence. There is also the consideration that they should have contractual obligations not to bring their team, sport and sometimes nation into disrepute. These should be the incentives, not more money.

I agree with Paul Heptonstall who later in the article states “prohibiting players from social media would exacerbate problems and cause more of a media circus later on.” This suggests there is definietly value in having additional training in these areas. That is where the money should go, not to the players that choose not to use social media. Athletes can be told to remove photos and posts that have a negative impact on the organisations they are contractually obliged to, as happened with Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk when they posted photos of themselves with guns onto facebook before the London Olympics.

The other end of this debate is where do the legal implications of some of these things come into it. As The Canberra Times article points out, there are risks involved in social media, and we all know that there is no such thing as privacy on social media. Anything that is put up will be in the public domain.

My sports and the law lecturer today was making the comment that there is the potential for claims of negligence against clubs and organisations for the statements made by emplyees on their social media sites. As there has currently been no cases of legal action with regards to the duty of care an organisation has to their members statements on social media there is still the potential risk of litigation against a club. Although there are a number of complicated scenarios surrounding these situations it still leads the question; is anybody safe in an environment where anything you say is recoded on the internet and becomes the potential property of somebody else without your knowing?

I think at the end of the day it is a risk that we are either willing to take and guard as best we can, or something that we do not want to be part of. The way technology is moving I think it will be difficult for anybody to be successful long term without a social media presence, and those that do it the best will have to most rewarding careers.