June 18th marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, one of the most famous battles in history. Apart from its historical and strategic significance, its brutal nature (over 50,000 soldiers killed or injured in a single day) and destruction of Napoleon’s career, its victor, the Duke of Wellington, used its lessons to leave behind vital insight for volleyball coaches to come. Paying it forward, if you will.
“The history of a (match) is not unlike the history of a (battle). Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the (match) won or lost; but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance.”
The lesson is clear. No matter how adamant someone is in their assessment of the match, or how trustworthy you find them, as Wellington knew only too well they do not know exactly what happened or why. A volleyball match is not nearly as complex or as important as the battle that decided the next 50 years of European history, but to really understand what happened a coach cannot rely on the recollections of participants or observers. They can provide some insight, but a full and rational analysis can only be made after assessing all of the resources at hand, including video and statistics.
Like all great volleyball coaches, Wellington’s wisdom is timeless.
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