As far as the misunderstandings go, I don’t believe there is no place for calling and it’s not that I don’t like calling per se. What I wrote is that I don’t teach calling and while I think it is mostly not necessary, I did write ‘mostly’. There are occasions where the only solution to a problem is calling. But there are many, many situations where structure should be clear and calling is unnecessary. I believe that many coaches teach calling to solve problems that they themselves create by either not having a clear structure in mind or not having an effective method of teaching structure and organisation or both. Teaching calling is therefore a short term solution to a long term problem and the players therefore never learn about the interaction of phases in the game or how to play together effectively.
One point that came up a couple of times was that juniors and seniors are different and therefore juniors need to call more. I completely disagree with that. Juniors need more instruction in how to play and how the parts of volleyball fit together so that they can understand. Calling doesn’t help understanding. Calling helps keep the ball off the floor for one extra contact. Juniors need to learn how to play (most seniors do too, but that’s another story) and sometimes the ball needs to fall on the floor so that lessons can have significance.
For me, the interesting thing in volleyball and the thing that I love most about it, is the interaction of players and skills and phases of the game. It is often said of volleyball that it is the ultimate team game because no single player can dominate the ball. This is certainly true, but it only becomes such a team game if all the players act in unison doing their, and only their, job, at exactly the right moment and letting their teammates do the same. If a player takes a ball he shouldn’t (even though he called), he negatively affects every subsequent contact. In the short term he takes himself out of the optimal position for the next contact (attack, block, cover etc). Even the wrong player putting a free ball over the net can cause unnecessary problems. In the longer term the required trust between players doesn’t develop.
Last week we beat Friedrichshafen in front of a big crowd. It was a great event for everyone and a really important victory in the context of the season. But the highlight for me was the play on match point where a player didn’t play a ball he could have played because it wasn’t his. The player who played the ball was in a much better position, so we were able to attack instead of just scrambling the ball over, and earned a free ball which we then killed for the match. They didn’t solve a problem, they demonstrated understanding. There is a huge difference.
Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.