Identifying the Factors That Differentiate the Good from the Great


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Success breeds success. It's a common phenomenon known as "The Winner Effect". Over the past few years and even decade the dominance of certain clubs raises the question, what are these top clubs in the country doing in their gyms? And what changes did they make that resulted in their success?

JVA Club Director Dave Weitl toured some of the top clubs in the country, located in the Midwest, this spring and shared his key observations.

Munciana Volleyball Club

Location: Yorktown, Indiana
Founded in 1974
30 National Championships
94 medals at national championships
217 All-tournament selections at national championships
13 Gatorade Players of the Year (Indiana)

WHAT MAKES MUNCIANA GREAT?
COACHING FEEDBACK AND CONSISTENCY. LEVEL AND PACE OF TRAINING

"Biggest change we made was multiple teams (2) training on 1 court. It allowed for a master coach scenario per court and afforded us the opportunity to compete every night." ~Co-Director Mike Lingenfelter.

Key Observations of Munciana Training

  • Incredibly efficient use of space
  • Coaches were really engaged with small groups and provided immediate consistent feedback.
  • Very fast-paced drills that incorporated butterfly-like flow through the drills.
  • Accomplished physical training into every drill.
  • Many of the drills incorporated both a clock and a goal with consequences for not meeting goals.
  • The standards of execution and effort were constantly being reinforced--consistently--by all coaches in every drill and scrimmage—relentless.
  • 'Do it right or do it again'
  • Mike Lingenfelter is absolutely committed to a standard of effort and execution that does not vary. There are a lot of philosophical statements intertwined in the training that the players seemed to like.

Sports Performance VBC

Location: Aurora, Illinois
Founded in 1981
83 National Championships
145 USAV All-tournament selections
463 AAU All-tournament selections
684 Alumni played collegiately (girls)
43 AVCA All Americans
22 SPVB Setters awarded All American status
3 of the 24 USA indoor players in 2016 Olympics
9 Big-10 Freshmen of the Year
1st ever VB player to win AAU Sullivan Award

WHAT MAKES SPORTS PERFORMANCE GREAT?
CULTURE, COMMITMENT AND FAMILY

Core Principles that have been in place for many years: 

Culture is King" Everything within the program is based on "Respect" for the past, "Commitment" to the present, "Building" for the future. Every player is asked to leave the Sports Performance program "better" than they found it.

Every player receives the same training and is asked to make the same level of commitment as every other player. The team you are placed on and the coach you play for is secondary in comparison to each players commitment to the Sports Performance program as a whole.

We practice in very large groups with 80-160 kids involved in each practice session. This creates a "family" atmosphere since all the players know all the other players in their age groups and even players in other age groups.

Failure is good, but failing while attempting extremely difficult tasks is even better!

Key Observations of SPVB Training:

  • Overall level of discipline and respect for coaches when they are lined up and speaking is very impressive.
  • Extremely efficient practices.
  • Captain structure supports the level of discipline. If there is a breakdown in discipline in the unit, the captain of the unit pays the price.
  • All players in a team must have the same level of commitment in order to play. If a player misses a practice, they must make it up or not play in competition since they have a lower commitment level to the team.
  • If a player arrives late to a practice, she must watch instead of participate.

Kentucky Indiana Volleyball Academy (KIVA)

Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Founded in 2001
49 National Championships
123 Medal Finishes at National Championship
125 Alumni played collegiately (girls)
Hall of Fame Coach and Director, Ron Kordes

WHAT MAKES KIVA GREAT?
TECHINICAL TRAINING AND COMPETITIVENESS

Key Observations of KIVA Training:

  • Coaches are very competent, independent and very capable of leading training on their own. Strongest coach on a court leads both teams.
  • Skill keys and techniques are very consistent and uniform throughout the club.
  • Training of youngest teams sets a strong foundation of skills for older team coaches.
  • Emphasis at KIVA is 1) Strong technical foundation and 2) Incredibly competitive teams.
  • Practice environment is efficient
  • Players all 'play with the blood' and embody the competitiveness of Director, Ron Kordes.

KIVA implements a master training program for coaches in the beginning of every season. New coaches learn the drills and terminology. The experienced coaches attend the practices of newer coaches and provide feedback. Newer coaches are also invited to attend the top level teams' practices to learn what those coaches are doing with the intention of "copying what's successful.

K2 Volleyball Club

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Founded in 2009
5 Top-10 finishes at Nationals in last 3 years
100% of graduates playing in college last 4 years
60 K2 players gone on to play in college
3 State MVPs

WHAT MAKES K2 GREAT?
HIGH EXPECTATIONS AND DISCIPLINE IN TRAINING CULTURE

"We put a heavy emphasis on skill development through training. We implemented this through a master coaching system. We also play tough competition as often as possible. We took our lumps at first but it exposed parents and players to what was possible." ~Club Director, Jason Hames

Observations of K2 Training

  • Just built a new training facility. 
  • They train 4 hrs/day on Tues-Wed-Thur. Workout for one hour, skills training breakout for one hour, practice for two hours.
  • J Hames designs and leads most of the training in a master coaching style.
  • There is extreme accountability placed on all players and expectations are high for focus and performance in drills.
  • The players had a lot of freedom to enforce discipline from their peers and this was obvious in the way they train and play.

All four clubs featured in this article are members of the Junior Volleyball Association. To learn more about how a JVA membership can benefit your club and coaching staff click here. Key observations from the training sessions were made by Dave Weitl, Club Director of Washington Volleyball Academy.

For related education for Junior Volleyball Club Directors click here.


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