This is the third in a series of articles discussing various chapters in Terry Pettit's book"...essays, columns, poems, and letters (that) reflect my own journey into coaching. Each entry is part of a story of how I came to see the challenges in my coaching development."
By Jim Freeman
December 26, 2014
Megan Hodge in the 2008 National Championship match. Megan was a two-time NCAA Finals MVP and a four-time All-American. (AP)
“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” - John Wooden
For the purposes of this discussion we'll agree that a skill is "something that we can teach someone to do." A talent, as the quote above states, is something we're born with. "Skills are patterns that can be learned. Talents are by-products of our genetic makeup."
We've all heard and uttered such keen assessments as "you can't teach height" or "you can't make chicken salad out of chicken...feathers." When we evaluate a player's talent we're often discussing things like size, speed, power, and coordination. Some of those things can be improved upon but athletic greatness isn't generally conferred on those with merely average or below-average physical gifts. We can improve an athlete's power but we can't make them elite in that regard sans the possession of certain genetic characteristics. We all remember instances when we saw someone who immediately stood out from the crowd based on their obvious physical gifts. For example, I can still recall the distinctive sound a volleyball made when it hit the floor after being struck by Megan Hodge (it sounded like a gunshot). Megan was the sort of competitor that attracted even non-volleyball fans to her games just so they could witness genuine athletic greatness. I remain grateful for the opportunities I had to watch someone as wonderfully talented as Megan play volleyball.
A lack of physical talent places certain limitations on the athlete...whether we like to admit that or not. We often hear statements like "you can be anything you want to be" or "you can do anything you set your mind to". I may have wanted to grow up to play centerfield for the New York Yankees but a distinct lack of physical ability kept that from happening. That being said I believe it is vitally important that we expand our notion of what we think constitutes a talent. Pettit states, "Being inclusive is a talent. Caring about your teammates is a talent. The willingness to be uncomfortable as you work to learn or refine a new skill is a talent." I like to think that we can all improve in those areas but I also think that some athletes naturally bring huge doses of those sorts of gifts to their teams.
Just as we all remember seeing athletes whose physical attributes allowed them to stand out from the crowd we can recall those players who were exceptional in other ways. The contributions to team culture and team success by such players cannot be overlooked and should not be underestimated.
Joe O'Connell in 2009.
A number of years ago I was fortunate enough to know a basketball player named Joe O'Connell at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. Joey had cystic fibrosis but he was the starting point guard on the JV basketball team for two years despite the fact that he was very slight in stature as a result of his illness. As he approached his junior year in high school he knew his chances of making the varsity team were not good. He wrote a letter to Dean Monroe (the head coach at the time) saying that he would do anything to make the team. He didn't expect any playing time, he would work as hard as anyone, he would cheer the loudest, he just wanted to be on the team. Joey was a member of the varsity squad his last two years in high school and he was named a team captain as a senior. He received enthusiastic support from the crowd any time he got to play in a game and he was such an inspiration that the Raleigh News & Observer did a feature article on him during his senior year (1994). Joe eventually graduated from college, married and had a daughter before he finally passed away at the age of 32. I'll never forget the throng of people who attended his funeral. There were hundreds of people that had been inspired by a young man who possessed tremendous talent. It wasn't the kind of talent that was immediately obvious but it was the sort that contributed greatly to his team's success. It was the sort of talent that moved people and was never forgotten by those who were touched by it.
Pettit writes "I believe that training skills is critical to the success of a team, but leveraging individual players' innate talents is the step that moves good teams to become extraordinary teams." An expanded view of what constitutes talent will help us insure that we are not overlooking qualities in a player that could prove invaluable to our team's success.
More on Megan Hodge:
More on Joe O'Connell:
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Monday, December 22, 2014
By Mike Wolf
December 21, 2014
Penn State's Micha Hancock, right, hugs coach Russ Rose, left, after Penn State defeated BYU during the NCAA women's volleyball tournament championship match in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. Photo: Sue Ogrocki, AP
For the sixth time in the past eight seasons, the Penn State Nittany Lions are national champions.
Saturday night in Oklahoma City, Penn State capped off another historic season by winning a record seventh NCAA title. No program in the country has had as much success in women’s volleyball as Penn State. The straight set win over BYU proved once again that the Nittany Lions had the best collection of players in the nation, as well as the greatest coach in the game.
Nothing is ever a forgone conclusion, but after the national semifinal victory over No. 1-seeded Stanford on Thursday, winning title number seven was close to it. Thanks to a balanced effort against the Cougars, led by NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Megan Courtney, the Nittany Lions swept BYU to cap off another miraculous run for a Russ Rose-coached team.
The all-time winningest coach in Division I has always placed the credit on the shoulders of his players, and rightfully so. But the 36-year veteran has created a trend that is staggering even to those who have never watched a volleyball match. More than half of the last decade has ended with a Nittany Lion championship. Winning national titles is no longer just expected at Penn State, it is the norm.
There is no secret to the continued success of Rose and Penn State; it is a simple formula that has paid dividends for years for the legendary coach: out-work every opponent on the schedule. Whether it is in practice, in a match, or while scouting, Penn State’s effort as a program is consistent, and to have success in Happy Valley, the players have to meet that standard.
Rose has an expectation for that level of effort at every moment for a player wearing the Blue and White, and if it does not meet his standard, Rose’s brutal honesty let’s them know. It can be difficult for some, but for those who can take it, it aids in molding them into players who can handle any pressure situation, even when a national championship is on the line.
“He’s always been hard on me and he knows that I want to push myself,” said Nittany Lion setter Micha Hancock last season. “When he sees that in a player, he really wants to push them farther than they think they can go, and that’s one of the best things about him.”
- See more at: http://btn.com/2014/12/21/volleyball-report-dont-expect-the-penn-state-dynasty-to-end-any-time-soon/#sthash.RxepkRod.dpuf
Russ Rose started at Penn State in 1979 and has built a dynasty in the years since
NCAA • Lee Feinswog • 12/20/14
Penn State coach Russ Rose, left, talks to his team during a timeout in the NCAA women's volleyball tournament championship match against BYU in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. Penn State swept BYU to win the program's 7th national title and sixth in the last eight years. Photo: Sue Ogrocki, AP
That first season, in 1979, Russ Rose made $14,000 as the Penn State women’s volleyball head coach.
“I just turned 25,” Rose recalled. “I was happy I got a job. I didn't know what I didn't know. I didn't have an office. I didn't have a telephone, I didn't have anything. I had 16 or 18 classes to teach a year, no assistant coach. I thought I had a good deal.”
Penn State, as it turns out, had a good deal.
The 1979 Nittany Lions finished 32-9 and were not invited to the postseason, but Rose nonetheless got a raise.
A $400 raise.
“I was feeling good,” Rose said.
He’s feeling better now. Penn State plays BYU on Saturday night for the national title in the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship, and regardless of the outcome Rose has established himself as the greatest coach the women’s game has ever known.
Now, three weeks past his 61st birthday, Rose leads everyone with six NCAA crowns.
The next closest? Two have four national titles: John Dunning won two at Pacific and two more at Stanford, which got sent home by Penn State on Thursday in the semifinals, and his predecessor, Don Shaw, who won four at Stanford.
What’s more, Rose still teaches at Penn State.
“It’s an ethics and issues of athletic coaching, which I usually start with a disclaimer for the students,” Rose cracked.
These days Rose doesn’t have to disclaim anything. As he finishes his 36th year in Happy Valley, life is good. His four boys are grown, he makes way more than $14,400, and perennially has the team to beat in women’s college volleyball.
Penn State finally broke through and won it all in 1999.
Then the Nittany Lions put together the best run ever, winning four in a row from 2007-10.
In 2012 Rose’s team caught a bad break when setter Micha Hancock tore up her ankle in the national semifinal in Louisville. Without Hancock being herself, Oregon moved on to the championship match, losing to Texas.
Then last year, led by Hancock, Penn State won it all again.
There are competitive, driven people in sports. Few could match the intensity point-in and point-out that Hancock generates. Conversely, it’s hard to imagine a coach with higher standards and more pointed sarcasm than Rose.
Love-hate between Hancock—on Friday named the AVCA National Player of the Year—and Rose would be an understatement at times in those first two and half years.
When she made her visit to Penn State, Hancock recalled Rose telling her, “It’s going to be a challenge. You’re probably going to hate me for your career here, but I’m going to make you a really good player.”
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:
Saturday, November 29, 2014
By Mark Rippetoe
November 26, 2014
The “New Year’s Resolution” must be one of the most ridiculous of human customs. You identify a problem you’re having, and then you wait until January 1 of the next year to address it, in the spirit of a group-participation event that nobody completes and nobody approaches seriously. You decide that you’re going to quit eating chocolate or stop scratching your feet. You stop until January 5. You’re typical.
In the gym business, New Year’s Resolution business used to be a bigger factor than it is now. Twenty-five years ago, fewer people participated in the fitness industry during the regular course of the year, so more people were free to buy memberships in January they weren’t going to use. Back then, New Year’s business was a significant percentage of the year’s gross, and the leveling off of this spike is really a good thing for everybody. The gym isn’t as crowded with amateurs for the three weeks after their hangovers are gone, and more people are using the gym more of the year.
But if you fall into the category of die-hard NYRers that insist on giving it a shot this year — again — let me suggest a different approach this time: strength training.
Training is the systematic approach a person employs to improve a physical ability. Preparing for a marathon, a football season, or a weightlifting meet are examples of training. They require an analysis of the specifics of the task, an assessment of where you are now in relation to where you want to be, and a plan for getting there. The plan and its constituent components are the training. The constituent components are theworkouts, and each workout is important because together they produce an accumulation of increasing physical capacity. The plan that controls and directs the process is what makes training different than what you did last year.
Exercising is what you did last year.
When you stop by the gym after work, change clothes, go to the dumbbell rack and do some curls or sit on your favorite machines and wiggle the levers around, ride the treadmill for 20 minutes while you watch the news, take a sauna and a shower, get back in the car and go home, you’re Exercising. If Training is a process, Exercising is what you do without a process in mind.
Exercising is what you do for today — for the way it makes you feel when you get through doing it. Hot. Sweaty. Out of breath. Tired. The “pump.” It’s about the positive feelings of accomplishment it produces Right Now. Exercise is the act of penance for your urban sins on the way home from work, and no plan/process/goal need be involved. The only thing it really requires is that you punch the ticket. Do the time. Get something — anything — done.
The problem with Exercise is the absolutely incontrovertible fact that it stops making things change almost as soon as you get used to the idea of doing it.
Adaptation (sorry for all the vocabulary words, but we must be precise) is the change that happens to your body when you push it harder in a direction it hasn’t been pushed before. The pushing-part is called stress, and a stress event is the stimulus that makes an adaptation occur. Recovery is the process of biological change within the body that allows the adaptation to occur. It’s the healing made necessary by the stress. The adaptation is the change that enables your body to withstand the stress next time. Adaptation is a feature of all living things. Basic biology in action.
Training harnesses the power of the stress/recovery/adaptation cycle. It allows the adaptation to follow a specific direction, one that produces the physical result you want, when you want it.
Planning your workouts is all it takes, and a little planning prevents both a lot of wasted time and the failure of your New Year’s Resolution, again. Here’s why.
Most people have something in mind when they start going to the gym. Nobody actually plans to get nothing accomplished. That just happens because no plans have been made. The process of stress, recovery from the stress, and adaptation to the stress must be managed so that it continues in a definite direction, because once an adaptation occurs, it takes a bigger stress event to make the process continue.
Messing around on the machines and riding the treadmill for 20 minutes is not training, because after you do it the first time, you adapt to it. It’s not hard the second time, because it wasn’t really very hard the first time. Repeating it over and over causes nothing new to happen, even if you still get sweaty, hot, and tired, because sweaty, hot, and tired (SHT) happens as a result of just burning calories at a higher-than-baseline rate.
It happens at work for years on end, if you have that kind of job.
This is very important: SHT doesn’t necessarily mean that an adaptation is taking place. SHT just means that you’re working hard enough to activate the adaptations that have already taken place.
Face it, kids. Getting SHT may only mean that you live in Houston. If you don’t do more work at the gym than you did last time, nothing is going to change, because you haven’t made it change. You can go to the gym every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, get SHT, and still not make anything adapt. I know this, and so do you. I’ve been in this business for 37 years, and you’ve been in this business every January since you got out of college.
Read the entire article here:
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
By Bill Allmann
Beaver County Times Sports Correspondent
November 18, 2014
Hopewell, PA native Christa Harmotto Dietzen, right, spikes the ball for the United States against China's Junjing Yang during the women's Volleyball World Championships in Milan, Italy, Oct. 12. (Emilio Andreoli/ The Associated Press)
HOPEWELL TWP. -- Ten years ago, Christa Harmotto brought gold medals back to Hopewell High School from both the WPIAL and PIAA Volleyball championships.
When she returned Tuesday night, she brought a different gold medal back – one from the world championships that she won as a member of the US National Team.
“After winning those gold medals in high school, I had no idea how far my career would have gone,” said Christa, who also brought a new last name back to Hopewell. After her recent marriage, she is now Christa Harmotto Dietzen. “I knew I was going to college but I didn’t know about anything beyond that.
“Wherever I’ve gone, I’ve been thankful for the support of everyone who has helped me along the way.”
Along the way, Christa has built on the three WPIAL and one PIAA titles from Hopewell, winning two national titles at Penn State and while being named an All-American four times while there, and won a silver medal as a member of the 2012 Olympic team.
Before talking to local volleyball players for an hour about setting goals and values, Hopewell gave Harmotto Dietzen another honor – her number 20 was retired with a plaque to go alongside other Hopewell greats such as Tony Dorsett and Joe Colella in the Hopewell lobby.
“I didn’t know that was going to happen,” said Harmotto Dietzen. “My roots mean so much to me. They’ve been so important in making me the person I am, that blue collar work ethic and the values that were instilled in me.”
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
By Karch Kiraly
I’ve often said that forearm passing is the cornerstone of volleyball, and I believe it more than ever now that I’m a coach. If you want to elevate the play of those around you, indoors or beach, you have to be able to make the ball go where you want by using your forearm platform.
When you think about it, every player on the court is required to pass. In the indoor game, even middle blockers have to set a hittable ball when a dig sprays their way – either overhead or with their platform. They also have to pass free balls, down balls, short serves or those that dribble over the net, and they have to cover their outside hitters when they get blocked.
The U.S. Women’s National Team faces these situations in every practice and every match. With such a fine margin between winning and losing, any one of these plays can determine the outcome. And, of course, beach players face the same thin margins and the same demands to make the ball go where they want.
During a game, players almost always have to receive a ball from one direction and make it go another – that is, they have to make an angle with their platform. There are very few game opportunities where you play a ball right back to where it came from, though that’s exactly what we do in partner activities like traditional pepper. If you can’t find a partner, a better way to practice making angles is to stand in the corner of two walls and repeatedly hit a spot on one wall, then the other. But even that drill has its flaws because the objective of a passer is to make the ball go to a teammate, not the next spot on the wall.
I prefer it when a player practices with two other people – friends, parents, siblings, anybody who’s willing. One person tosses or serves a ball over a net-high rope, and another is a catching target a few feet away from the “net.” (This is a drill you can do in the backyard or any place you can tie a rope.) This drill makes the passer take serves from various places around the court and pass them to a target.
Of course, the best way to practice – spoiler alert here – is to play this game called volleyball: doubles or with three players, indoors, on grass, on sand, wherever you can find a net.
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
By John O'Sullivan
“My 4th grader tried to play basketball and soccer last year,” a mom recently told me as we sat around the dinner table after one of my speaking engagements. “It was a nightmare. My son kept getting yelled at by both coaches as we left one game early to race to a game in the other sport. He hated it.”
“I know,” said another. “My 10 year old daughter’s soccer coach told her she had to pick one sport, and start doing additional private training on the side, or he would give away her spot on the team.”
So goes the all too common narrative for American youth these days, an adult driven, hyper competitive race to the top in both academics and athletics that serves the needs of the adults, but rarely the kids. As movies such as “The Race to Nowhere” and recent articles such as this one from the Washington Post point out, while the race has a few winners, the course is littered with the scarred psyches of its participants. We have a generation of children that have been pushed to achieve parental dreams instead of their own, and prodded to do more, more, more and better, better, better. The pressure and anxiety is stealing one thing our kids will never get back; their childhood.
The movie and article mentioned above, as well as the book The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, highlight the dangerous path we have led our children down in academics. We are leading them down a similar path in sports as well.
As I said to my wife recently, the hardest thing about raising two kids these days, when it comes to sports, is that the vast majority of the parents are leading their kids down the wrong path, but not intentionally or because they want to harm their kids. They love their kids, but the social pressure to follow that path is incredible. Even though my wife and I were collegiate athletes, and I spend everyday reading the research, and studying the latest science on the subject, the pressure is immense. The social pressure is like having a conversation with a pathological liar; he is so good at lying that even when you know the truth, you start to doubt it. Yet that is the sport path many parents are following.
The reason? FEAR!
We are so scared that if we do not have our child specialize, if we do not get the extra coaching, or give up our entire family life for youth sports, our child will get left behind. Even though nearly every single parent I speak to tells me that in their gut they have this feeling that running their child ragged is not helpful, they do not see an alternative. Another kid will take his place. He won’t get to play for the best coach. “I know he wants to go on the family camping trip,” they say, “but he will just have to miss it again, or the other kids will get ahead of him.”
Read the entire article by clicking on the link below:
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Blues make call on Captain's career after 2,902 straight games without an ejection
By Ian O'Connor
September 25, 2014
Yes, the adults in the stands have dressed their kids in jersey No. 2 because of the five championships, the 3,461 hits, and the commitment to approaching every game the way Joe DiMaggio did -- as if someone out there was watching him play for the very first time. But the respect Jeter forever showed the game's authority figures at a time when that respect on ballfields across America -- from Little League to the pros -- was an oft-ignored suggestion, not a mandate, represented a core piece of his mass appeal. Even while playing in the most volatile market, and spending most of his prime under a suffocating boss, George Steinbrenner, Derek Jeter never had his bad hair day. Tuesday night, after he was called out on strikes in the fifth by D.J. Reyburn (the ball appeared to be a tad outside), the shortstop did what he always does when he believes the guy behind the plate missed it on strike three.
Friday, September 12, 2014
By John O'Sullivan
September 12, 2014
When you are in the coaching profession, one of the things you learn early on is not to take things too personally. Your biggest fans when you win may become your biggest critics when you lose. Your players may love you one moment, and grumble the next, and it is important to maintain perspective and see the big picture even when they cannot. If you are doing your job, your players and fans will not always appreciate the moment, but they will appreciate your great coaching years from now.
Recently I have read numerous articles about longtime coaches resigning due to parent complaints over things like playing time, selection for varsity or JV, and the like. I have read about states passing legislation to protect coaches from parent complaints. Then I read this article about a former high school basketball player who was suing his former coach and athletic director because he didn’t get enough playing time. This is insane. This I took personally.
It reminded me on an incident a few years ago when I was the Director of Coaching for a youth soccer organization and we were conducting a membership survey to learn more about what was going well, and what could be improved in our organization. Amongst all the valuable feedback we received, one comment stood out, and I took it personally. It said:
“How hard is it to coach? All you do is come up with a drill or two, and sit there in your chair and watch games. Anyone could do it.”
Really, I thought.
Do you have any ideas how many hours a week a good coach spends planning practice, and then analyzing how it went afterwards so it can be better next time? Do you know how many hours a great coach often agonizes before and after a game, second guessing decisions he or she made so that next time it gets better?
Do you know how many hours a coach spends talking to players, not about only sport but about life? Do you realize how many hours are spent dealing with a parents’ divorce, a broken heart or problems with drugs or alcohol?
Do you know how many hours a coach spends with other team parents, helping them reach their teenager when he is going through a difficult time? Do you know how much time goes into helping an athlete find the right university or path after high school?
Do you know how many hours a coach spends with your kids, instead of his or her own?
Here is something most people who have never been in the coaching profession don’t know: the hours spent by a great coach on the field or court developing athletes are usually dwarfed by the hours spent off the court developing people. This happens behind the scenes and out of the public eye.
I call these great people “coaches of positive significance.” These are leaders who have reached a point in their coaching careers where they no longer measure success in wins and losses, and in trophies and medals.
These coaches develop better people and better players. They measure success not in championships, but by the number of significant life events they are invited to by their players. When an athlete invites a coach to a wedding, or graduation, or other such event, the athlete is doing that not because he or she won some championship. The y invite a coach who has profoundly changed them for the better as a person.
And here is the secret sauce. These coaches of positive significance realize that when you invest in people off the field, success on the field usually follows.
Sadly, in our current era of entitlement, and parents who think they are helping their kids by mowing down all obstacles (we call them lawnmower parents) in their child’s march toward Ivy League schooling and college athletics, our coaches of positive significance are becoming an endangered species. These amazing people who are willing to push your child, to take him or her out of their comfort zone, to say “good, now do more,” are being threatened by a minority of parents who are willing to yell loudly and make a big stink every time their precious little child faces some adversity.
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:
Thursday, September 4, 2014
By Michael R. Eades, M.D.
13 May 2014
This review of The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz is the most difficult and demanding I have ever written. It is demanding for a couple of reasons.
First, it is psychologically demanding on me because I want to write a review so good it inspires everyone to buy the book immediately and read it. Why? Because I think it is one of the most important books on nutrition ever written. Maybe the most important. And I feel a responsibility to inspire as many people as I can to get their hands on it.
Second, this book is so brimming with valuable information that I was almost paralyzed in trying to figure out which parts to excerpt. A book review always comes with excerpts, and this book presented me with such a bounty of choices, it took me forever to decide which to use.
I can categorically tell you that there are not enough superlatives – at least not in my vocabulary – to adequately describe how wonderful and important this book is. But I’m going to try because I really believe it is that good.
I met Nina Teicholz five or six years ago when I was in New York. She told me she had converted from a low-fat to a low-carb diet and that she was writing a book. We really didn’t discuss the book she was writing, so I was clueless. We kept in sporadic touch via email and exchanged a scientific paper or two, but that was about it. I hadn’t heard from her in a couple of years when last September out of the blue I got an email from her saying the first draft of her book was finished. She asked if I would mind reading it and giving her feedback.
I hate these requests because it is really time consuming to read an entire manuscript. And if it sucks, what do you say? I’ve written a number of books in my time, and I know how much effort goes into writing one. Even a bad one. So I hate to be put in the position of having to say to someone, Your book is a loser.
But, Nina’s request came when I was traveling and had some airplane time on my hands, so I said, Sure, send it on.
What she sent was a number of files, some in Word, some pdf. And she didn’t send the entire book, just the first half of it.
I started to read and was absolutely riveted. Instead of trying to carve out time to read her manuscript, I started carving out time from reading her book to do all the other things I needed to do. It was that good.
As I was approaching the end of the part she sent, I emailed asking for the rest. Which she sent, and which I voraciously devoured.
I made a few suggestions – a very few – and we emailed back and forth a bit. Then a few months later, her publisher sent me a bound review copy of basically the printout of her manuscript. It wasn’t typeset as most galleys are. I read this version and made copious notes. Here are what a typical couple of pages in my copy looks like. You can now see why it was difficult for me to decide what small parts to excerpt.
Since then, I’ve received the actual typeset galleys, which I have also read. So, I’ve gone through this book three times. All I’m asking is for you to go through it once. I guarantee you will thank me for pushing it on you.
Nina Teicholz is a married mother of two living in New York City. She is an investigative journalist and food writer by trade. When she first moved to New York, she was following a low-fat, USDA Food Pyramid style diet. Her life changed when she began writing restaurant reviews. She ate whatever the chefs she was reviewing sent out, which was often “paté, beef of every cut prepared in every imaginable way, cream sauces, cream soups, foie gras – all the foods [she] had avoided [her] entire life.”
She ate an enormous amount of fatty food, and despite her worries to the contrary, her cholesterol numbers didn’t go through the roof. But best of all, she lost the ten pounds she had been struggling to shed.
Read the rest of the review by clicking on the link below: