How To Be A Great Coach

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Dave Grohl is the most inspirational human being alive.

I don’t think that is in question.

It is not a matter of whether or not he makes good music and even less about having been a member of Nirvana.  His inspirational qualities lie in his completely unselfconscious love of music, which informs everything that he does.  And what it shows us is the importance of loving something.  When you love something as much as Dave Grohl loves music, everything is possible.

So when the question came up on the Volleyball Coaches and Trainers facebook page that made be think about what it takes to be a great coach, it was only natural to me that I look to Dave for inspiration.  The obvious answer is you have to love volleyball.  If you don’t love volleyball you can never be great coach.  For one thing, you will never be motivated enough to do the work that you have to do.  But there must be more so I settled on a quote from the Foo Fighters song ‘Congregation’**.

“You need blind faith, but no false hope.”

Somehow this idea resonated with me.  It implies that the secret of success is the exactly correct mix of persistence and realism.  So I adapted that concept for coaches, with two variations.

  • You need utter confidence in your coaching principles and methodology, but be unrelenting in your challenging of them.
  • You need complete confidence in your coaching ability, but continually and ruthlessly question yourself.

I think mastering those ideas will take you a long way towards being a great coach.  As long you love volleyball.

Personally, I also like the song.

** It is important to note the quote is not directly from Dave but from music producer Tony Brown during the HBO documentary series ‘Sonic Highways’. An ode, if you will, to Dave’s love of music.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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  1. I once heard a statement in a different context which I think speaks to the point you’re looking to make: “You must have strong convictions loosely held.”

    In the case of this discussion, the conviction is in your coaching but with a readiness to change them when finding or presented with something that challenges them.


  2. Sorry Mark…. but you cant find a more inspirational man alive than Dave Grohl? I like your coaching tips but that statement must be a joke. How about Wally Lebedew to name just 1!


    1. A teenager falls in love with something and devotes his life to it. Along the way he undergoes numerous life changing events, both positive and negative. But through everything he never loses the awe and wonder in his initial love and continues to follow the path.
      That story is inspirational.


  3. Relating to the first part of the post: A great coach has to love volleyball AND the players (human beings) she/he is working with. I read quotes in this direction in various fields by different outstanding teachers. The most salient in volleyball is Nikolai Karpol (e.g. in his interview with “Volleballmagazin”, 04/14).


    1. To clarify, you have to love volleyball to become a coach in the first place.
      I’m not convinced about the loving the players part. And Karpol certainly doesn’t love his players in the way I understand love.


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