The Wisdom Of Players

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I recently posted on the facebook page the post of Platonov quotes.  The following quote was commented upon…

”Do not be afraid to learn from players.  Especially new techniques.  “Stars” become “stars” because they do many things non standard, not by the text book.”

Given that Platonov was the greatest volleyball of all time, I thought it might be worth discussing further.

In the Vince Lombardi biography, ‘When Pride Still Mattered’, the story is told of Lombardi (on the way to being the greatest football coach of all time) making the adjustment from college coach to professional coach.  After some difficult times, particularly in his relationships with the players, he sat down with them and asked them to help him coach them.

I think it is reasonable to say that even in the age of player empowerment neither story is typical.  But until I heard the following story, I didn’t realise the idea of learning from players was quite so foreign.

A former professional player, one of the best players in the world at his position, gave a lecture on his skill area to a group of development coaches.  To reiterate, he was one of the best in world at that position.  After he explained to them exactly what he did, where he looked, what he tried to recognise, how he made his decision, his technique; the entire process that he went through to be the best in the world, the assembled coaches told him he was wrong.  Particularly, they told him he was looking in the wrong place.  Apparently the scientific research shows something different.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

Cover v2


  1. Mark,
    l love this example you give us. This is the theory of action type in its best form. Each player has his own way of performing a technique. Sometimes it doesn’t fit by what the book says, but the players results are extraordinary. This is how their whole “system of body movement”, which often is chunked in the brain, feels comfortable. Sometime players don’t feel comfortable in the harness of technique we want to lock them up. That doesn’t mean that everything is allowed! Not long ago volleyball players who had a wrong “foot rythm” (cross dominantly) in the Netherlands were not invitate to play for the National team, while some of Europe’s greatest players had that same “wrong” foot rythm!. Still in the volleyball schools they try to change that rythm. They don’t recognize that players sometimes don’t feel well and play worse then they did before. But, it’s is written in the book, so…………
    Platonov’s quote says a lot: “do not be afraid to learn from players. Especially new techniques. Stars become stars because they do many things non standard, not by the text book”
    Marinus Wouterse


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