Just for the hell of it, I thought I’d write about some of the things I thought about in 2012. Lots of stuff actually happened in the volleyball world in 2012 but I know nothing about nearly all of it because it happened in beach volleyball or women’s volleyball. That’s not to say I never thought about beach volleyball or women’s volleyball, I just didn’t follow them. So everything that follows will be male and indoor centric. I think I’ll split them up into two or three posts. I’ve already written about TEAMS and PLAYERS. This one is about COACHES…
I don’t the discussion about the best coach in 2012 should be a very long one. In 2011, Vladimir Alekno won the Russian League with his club Dynamo Kazan and World League and World Cup with Russia. In 2012, he won the Russian League again while adding the European Champions League title and topped it all of by winning the Olympics. I doubt if any coach in men’s volleyball has had such an impressive 24 month period and I am not the least bit surprised that he retired from the National Team at the end of it. Lots has been written and discussed about the Olympic final in particular but I think I’ll share one anecdote to perhaps put it into perspective. A very experienced player went to play in Alekno’s club team. He had won everything there was to win in volleyball and didn’t think he had anything left to learn in volleyball. While the practice part of Alekno’s work was not revolutionary, the player commented to friends that his work in games was amazing and he ended up learning an enormous amount.
Also on the list in Jose Guimares, the coach of the Brazilian women’s team. I have to say I know almost nothing about him, except that he is pretty good at winning things. His three Olympic Gold Medals (two with the women and one with the men) is a feat matched by exactly zero other coaches, as is the feat of having won both the men’s and women’s competitions.
After those two, I think the honorable mentions go to the silver medal winning coaches. Bernardinho and Hugh McCutcheon are not unknown in these parts and I’ve written plenty about them before. Bernardinho left London with his fifth medal (two bronze with the women and a gold and two silver with the men). I honestly don’t even know how to process that and I don’t think any more really needs to be said. I was fortunate to catch McCutcheon’s US women’s team in training before the games so they ended up being a team I followed closely throughout the tournament. I think they played the best volleyball of any team, men or women, over those two weeks and their record over the last two years is phenomenal. Unfortunately for them the gold medal is not awarded for excellence over a period of time, but for winning a single game.
So those were the teams, players and coaches I thought mostly about in 2012. Obviously I thought of plenty of other things. I also thought about practice and how to improve it. I also thought about statistics and how to use them better. And I thought a lot about how to utilise the lessons from other sports and teams and coaches into my own work. I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to think about those things and to write about them here.