Monday, April 20, 2015

AVCA Coaching Education Resources

by Morgan Thomas, Assistant Coach - Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

One of the core benefits of having an AVCA membership is the Coaching Education. Whether you are a coach looking for a training method to introduce a new skill, or looking for a drill to improve mental toughness- the AVCA provides a wide variety of resources to meet the needs of its members and their teams. Many coaches have their “favorite” drill they have used for years, or they design their own drills based on the specific needs of their personnel. However, the greatest component of the AVCA is that coaches can learn and collaborate with one another to grow the sport and become better volleyball coaches.

Listed below are some of the AVCA Coaching Education resources made available to members looking to broaden their training horizon.

AVCA Volleyball Drill Index
Need a quick drill idea before practice? Visit the AVCA’s Volleyball Drill Index for easy navigation to your drill needs. Categorized by topic and skill level, the Drill Index has a variety of drills that cover all aspects of the game. The layout of these drills are clearly organized by explaining objectives, equipment needed, number of players needed, specific directions, variations, and diagrams. These drills are submitted from members across the country, providing coaches a platform to learn from one another. The AVCA Volleyball Index can be found here: 

AVCA Video Tip of the Week
Presented by The Art of Coaching Volleyball, the AVCA Video Tip of the Week is a brief weekly video illustrating a specific skill, system, or strategy.  What makes this platform so unique is that coaches from across the country contribute and share training methods and philosophies. Every coach knows that there are always multiple ways of going about accomplishing an objective. The AVCA Tip of the Week provides a great visual, both on the physical components of the drill and with the feedback they provide their athletes. Weekly posts can be found here:


AVCA Annual Coaches’ Convention
The AVCA holds its annual Fall Convention in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Division I Volleyball Championship. It is the largest gathering of volleyball coaches in the nation, providing nearly 70 educational sessions both on-court and in the classroom ( Education sessions are presented by a wide range of coaches on a wide range of topics over the course of several days. Attending the AVCA Fall Convention and its Educational Sessions is a great way to learn from others while sharing experiences with the peers around you. To sign up for the 2015 AVCA Annual Convention in Omaha, visit        

As members of the AVCA, it is important to know what resources are already provided and where to find them. The AVCA has done a great job of encouraging its members to continuously self-educate, demonstrated by the never ending avenues that contribute and grow the sport we love!

Monday, April 13, 2015

How to Network

by Nicole Miller - Assistant Coach, UNC Charlotte

Whether you are at the beginning of your career or a coaching veteran embarking down a new road, here are a few do’s and don’ts about networking to help you succeed.

 Ever wonder what all the hype is about networking? Developing a new social network can seem daunting to new career professionals and career changers in light of all the other job search activities they are required to do. Yet networking has indeed been recognized as one of the most effective job search strategies there is. (About Careers, 2014). The following is a list of things you should be doing to expand your personal and professional networks. 

Social Media: From LinkedIn connection requests to advice-seeking Facebook messages to 140- character chatter on Twitter, you should customize every communication sent on social networks. It shows that you value your unique connection with the recipient. It's easy for people to feel used when you send them a generic request or a message that's clearly copy-and-pasted to dozens of others.

Face-to Face Contact: In today’s hypercompetitive job marketplace, what sets you apart from another applicant that has the same background, degrees, and skills? The answer: knowledge, and the willingness to share it to the benefit of an organization. How you share this knowledge is telling, too, for it reveals much about your personality, and how you would fit within a group, team, or organization. This is not to reduce the importance of your current online communications and efforts. Resumes, webpages, and profiles only go so far; the human side of you is what networking can deliver ( 

Job Shadowing: Job shadowing is an activity that offers the opportunity to spend time with a coach currently working in your position of interest. Job shadowing offers a chance to see how that particular coach runs their practices, manages their program, and goes about recruiting. Not only do job shadowers get to observe the day-to-day activities they also get a chance to have their questions answered. Curiosity is one of the cornerstones of learning. Be curious. Ask questions. Learn faster.

In sum, the key to effective networking is to make you known. The premise being that the more people you meet, the more people there will be to get to know you and remember who you are. You should use every professional and social opportunity to meet and connect with new people.

Monday, April 6, 2015

How to Recruit your Future Senior Leaders

by Laura Benzing, Assistant Coach at the University of Minnesota

We all have a variety of considerations we take out onto the recruiting trail.  We need a setter for the 2016 class or we have to find a terminating pin right now.  We seek a minimum academic level, a desired level of competitiveness and this ubiquitous term “grit” that we hope is attached to all those other qualities.   If we have had luck with health and planning, each fall will see a new fresh-faced class of 4-5 student-athletes.  They will be a mix of ball-control and big kids and have not only their individual personalities, but they will also have a class personality.  So the question is, will you look forward to the season when they represent your senior leadership?  And what can you do in the recruiting process to help that answer to be "yes?"

First, pay attention to behavior when you watch recruits at tournaments and matches.  How do they handle making mistakes, being coached and being a teammate?  How do they speak to their parents?  Note that information as you would skill and physicality.  Next, create personality or leadership categories that you want to have balanced within your team and within the class.  For example: potential leader, probable follower and “needs guidance”.  When you look at a possible class, and have two great physical talents committed – but both are probable followers, you may need to shift your sights to a leader as a priority.  While an even-keel and mellow group of freshmen or sophomores might go unnoticed as a problem, not having a senior who can shout “Let’s Go!” with a high degree of creditability will become a glaring one.

Lastly, if you are recruiting someone for their leadership, make that a part of the conversation early and often.  You can begin shaping that role before they arrive on campus.  Are they responsive to requests?  Can you find early roles to help them develop that relationship with their classmates?  Maybe they plan an activity at summer camp, or are in charge of a small part of their official visit (providing their class is visiting together).  When they begin their freshman season, you will already have a head start on that three year process of personal and volleyball growth.  There is not much better of a litmus test of your recruiting, coaching and student-athlete development than your senior class.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Digging Deep into Recovery Time: Self-Myofascial Release/Foam Rolling

by Lindsey Smith, Founder of Moxie Strength & Nutrition

A former libero at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, I am a wellness activist, personal trainer, group fitness enthusiast, clean eating advocate and fanatic of life. I created Moxie Strength & Nutrition as a platform to share my group fitness teaching schedule, but as my passion for health & fitness grew so did Moxie. I am on a mission to partner with small to medium sized corporations to bring uplifting wellness habits to work; creating rejuvenated employees, vibrant work cultures and healthy bottom lines.

Imagine full spa treatment, daily massages to alleviate tight muscles and restore connective tissue; it can be your reality for the low price of $10…ok, maybe not the full spa treatment, but you can get the daily poor man’s massage by investing in a foam roller. 

As promised in my previous blog on Rest and Recovery, I will be expanding on how to maximize recovery time in my future blogs.

Quick Refresher on Rest & Recovery: 

Rest and recovery, two similar, yet very different words when implemented correctly in my opinion. Let me break it down: 
1.       Rest – a combination of time spent sleeping and not training (example - if you train for 10 hours per week, you have 158 non-training hours or 95% of your time).
2.      Recovery – this word is a very active verb in my mind; refers to the ACTIONS taken to maximize your body’s ‘rest’ time.  Actions of recovery include, but are not limited to: sleep, hydration, nutrition, posture, heat, ice, stretching, self-myofascial release, stress management, compression, and so forth.

Two weeks ago I emphasized the importance of sleep during recovery time. This week, I would like to dig a little deeper (no pun intended) into self-myofascial release, the fancy term for foam rolling.

Recovery Exercise Two: Self-Myofascial Release/Foam Rolling
Self-myofascial release (SMR, also known as foam rolling), although not a new technique, is growing in popularity amongst athletes to alleviate tight muscles and restore connective tissue.  SMR is a relatively simple technique that athletes can use to alleviate trigger points - areas of muscle that are painful to palpation and are characterized by the presence of taut bands; muscle and connective tissue has typically become thick, tough and knotted.

If left untreated these trigger points may lead to a variety of sports injuries - from camps to more serious muscle and tendon tears. Hence the importance of SMR to release these trigger points, prevent injury and restore muscle and connective tissue.

The Most Common Uses for SMR: 
·         Lower and Upper Back
·         Iliotibial Band (IT Band – hip bone to knee)
·         Hamstrings
·         Quadriceps
·         Adductor (Inner Thigh/Hip)

SMR Guidelines:
·         When a trigger point is found (painful area) hold for 15-45 seconds (as long as you can tolerate up to 45 seconds).
·         Keep the abdominal muscles tight which provides stability to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex during rolling (protecting your spine and low back).
·         Remember to breathe slowly as this will help to reduce any tense reflexes caused by discomfort.
·         If you are struggling with several trigger points perform SMR exercises 1-2 times daily. If you can SMR daily that is great; strive for 2-4 times per week.