Development Or ‘Success’? – Testimonials

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norwood u15

The ‘Development or ‘Success’?’ post that I wrote drew some great feedback and a few excellent comments from coaches who had used similar approaches.  I think both deserve a wider airing, so I will put them into a post.

From Marinus…

Coaches who are going for succes training youth are victims of our ” judgement of succes” system. They are walking with wide open eyes into the pitfall of that system. Going for succes with young players almost always mean that you are training and coaching on a very explicite way. A lot of tips and tools, mostly very verbal without space and time leaving for a explorative way of learning. That, in a “players learning age” that they should solve problems themselves by doing things and looking for clues without the explicite feedback of the coach . They are apealing to much on the declarative memory system in the brains. To much thinking instead of just doing. In that way coaches are making players “feedback dependend”. They are doing well when the coach is coaching. But when they have to do it themselves, they will search for solutions “brainly” and they will “choke ” under the pressions of time and stress. The harsh realities almost always come to the surface when the players become older. When they are playing at senior level. Then it becomes clear that they are not so good as people thought they would be at that age. Training and coaching on devellepmont is almost always in an implicite way. A kind of discovery learning. You are apealing on the conceptual part in your brain. Not to much talking; give them time to explore their own way of playing. Taining and learning all the facets of volleyball is part of that way of learning. You can see it as a way of differential learning. Schöllhorn already said “Nie das richtige trainieren, um richtig zu spielen”. When you train them in this way they will become better players at senior level. You can ask yourself if coaches who are going for short time successes are (at the end) the players best freinds? I call it subconsciously incompetence. We have to add to the components technics, tactics and physics a fourth, precisely when we are trainng youth and that’s what I call the brainics. Going full for succes often means the exclucion of this important “instrument/tool” and it seems contradictional but, in the end that “goal” is an obstacle in the (young) players development. Therefore Mark: I agree completely with you and your friend!

This is a perfect response, from a learning point of view.  Coaches think they are helping playing, but the effect is, and can only be, short term.  The developmental damage is clear.

From Berti…

I think, the key is to make players find their personal success primarely in their developement, rather than in the results of particular matches. Once players internalized that, success in terms of results of matches is coming along automatically, as Huy’s example shows.

What Berti writes here is the key factor.  The coach must sell to the players that success is not a function of wins and losses but of learning and development.  This is of course very difficult for two reasons.  Firstly, there are outside influences involved (clubs, parents, etc) who must also be involved in the process.  And secondly, and sadly, in many cases the coach must win for his own ego and the players are not the primary in his thinking.

From Patrick…

I’m a basketball coach from the Netherlands, so of volleyball I don’t know to much. But I think that coaching is more or less the same.

The last few years I’ve worked with boy and girls on similar principals. We tried to become better every practice and every game we played. Wins didn’t count at the start, just development. I also didn’t place players on one spot, they had to learn how to play on every spot.

The first time I did practice this way, it looks like it would take forever. But I hang on to the principals and slowly I saw results (wins). After the first year I had more wins, then games we’ve played. Thinks we did in practice came back in the games we played and every time it came back we had a win.

Three years later I started with a new team. Because I was familiar with this way of teaching the game, we did go a lot faster. The first months we lost more than a couple of games, but the second half of the competition we started to grow a lot. Little wins in the games we played, did make us win the hole of it.
The first game of the season we lost with over fifty point. At the end of the season we did meet the same team, and this time we only lost with four points (after overtime). I did receive a lot of complements after that game, even from the coaches of the opponent, about the way we have grown.
The second year was even better, we did only lost two games in the start of the season, but overall we won the most and became champions.

After two boys teams, I choice for a girls team. This time I decided to change it a little bit. This team was not only younger (U14), it was also not familiar with the positions of: guard, forward and center. I didn’t learn them what it means to be a position player, I learned them what they had to do when they should come in that position.
I didn’t develop a certain kind of player, but instead I did develop the players. Of course it takes a lot of time, but in the long run it will give you better players.
Other teams found it hard to play against us, we had tall girls playing as a guard if necessary and we had small girls playing centers when they came in those spots.

I recommend everyone to develop players, instead of playing to win the matches. I belief that the fun for players, and for coaches, stays longer. Because they all will become much better.

I don’t think this one needs a commentary from me.


  1. Congrats for winning the German Championship with your team -again!!! I was only able to watch the final match live online and enjoyed your several comebacks a lot. I’m very glad that my remark triggered some thoughts from you, just as your wonderful blog does with me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and appreciating mine,


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