I just watched match 1 of the Greek championship between Iraklis and Olympiacos. Unfortunately the transmission ended just when they entered the fifth set. So I don’t know the outcome of that match. But for what I want to write about, this isn’t necessary.
I am astonished again about the fact that the problems in volleyball are the same – no matter on which level you are playing (or coaching). What hit me watching that match (I did it from the Iraklis point of view, because one of my Facebook friends @Ryan Jay Owens plays for them) was that they had tremendous problems in pressure situations.
On this level any team can score from a ++ or even + pass. But I think matches are decided by what you do in those situations when your passer, your setter or your attacker are in trouble. Do they still aim the ball? Do they still try to help the team by correcting the situation? Does the setter still think aggressive even if the pass wasn’t good? Does the attacker still aim to bring the ball down on the other side (or using the block etc.) when the ball is on the 3 meter line?
To be straight: Iraklis did not do that. They had individuals (like Ryan) who played aggressive in some of these situations. But as a team they weren’t able to turn difficult situations into points. It started in the second set when Olympiacos found their rhythm. Iraklis suddenly was obviously soft thinking when serving the ball. Olympiakos said thank you very much by killing Ryan’s team in almost every single side out situation. And Iraklis was also lacking the bite when attacking (well, most of the times).
As usual: You can not show in game situations what you haven’t practiced before. Volleyball isn’t only a complex and technically demanding sport, it also produces so many different situations. No pass is the same like the one before. Not the best setter in world can put the ball at the same spot twice. Which means that in volleyball we have always “new” situations.
Many coaches are still working without using this knowledge. Berlin’s coach Mark Lebedew wrote on his blog At Home On The Court about motor learning. I don’t want to repeat everything, but instead repost the link to his article. You find other links in it. If you are German please see my review on the Mark Lebedew text.
I don’t want to get down on Iraklis‘ coach. I don’t know him or the way he works with his team. Maybe he is using these methods and his players could not benefit yet. All I want to say is that working on being aggressive in difficult situations is a very important issue. No matter on which level you are playing (or coaching). And the methods you are using at practice are vital.