The player and coach relationship is a very special one. When it works, the relationship is a two way street where both coach and player work together every step of the way to achieve the same goal. While the benchmarks and end goal should ideally be the same for both sides, the differences between playing volleyball and coaching volleyball are in the approach to each step. For players just making the switch to coaching, the adjustment can be hard to grasp at first but make complete sense once they are laid out.
1. A coach must have a strong grasp of each part of the game. In order to successfully build the machine that becomes a team, as a coach you will need to be proficient on each part of volleyball so you can actually coach each player on your team.
2. A coach must put every player in a position to successfully contribute. Taking players strictly for numbers or playing a player in a position they are clearly not fit for does not provide any benefit to either side. As a coach it is your responsibility to give your players the best chance to succeed in the sport.
3. A coach must be organized and prepared every practice. It sounds obvious, but you must come into each practice with a goal in mind. In order to make your team better, you need to run effective practices every time.
4. A coach must be open to all styles and strategies. The big thing about any playing style or system is that everything is designed to win, and when executed properly that is what they will do. When you become a coach, you realize the system you are most familiar with may not be the best fit for the team you have. You must learn and be open to all options in order to put your team in the right direction.
5. A coach must see in players what they do not see in themselves. Going back to the idea that a coach should put every player in a position to succeed, sometimes players have played one position for so long that they do not consider another position the team may need. If you are overloaded at one position and weak at another, it is the coach's job to see potential in players that they may not be aware of themselves.
6. A coach must realize that the team belongs more to the players than the coach. The most important in my opinion. There is so much culture around being part of a team. Your players will be the ones driving the emotional and physical workload, and you need to understand that the idea of team will be owned by your players. As the coach you should be leading them in the right direction as far as what defines a team, but ultimately the identity your team takes will belong to your players. You will need to be open and able to plan accordingly.
As you can see, the differences between playing volleyball and coaching volleyball are all in leadership qualities. If you were ever named a captain or senior leader on a team, these are familiar concepts, but as a coach they are all amplified. Just like when you were playing, it takes some time to learn. When you finally get it down, the relationship between you and your players can be a very special one. Check out one of my more personal blog posts that shows the result of this!
If you are looking to stay sharp and play great volleyball, check out our post about the fundamentals of setting to improve your quickness and hands!