In 1858 an English cricketer took three wickets with consecutive deliveries. The spectators were so excited by his feat that they took a collection with which they purchased a hat that they presented to him as a token of their appreciation. Over time, whenever a cricketer took three wickets with consecutive balls it became known as a hat trick. The term has since been borrowed by other sports, always to denote something done in threes. My personal favourite kind of hat trick is the ‘Gordie Howe Hat Trick’. This is named after the Canadian ice hockey player and is used to describe a match in which the ‘recipient’ scores a goal, records an assist, and gets into a fight.
As we all know, the coach’s work in volleyball is judged purely by how he uses his interventions (timeouts and substitutions). I am on record as advising young coaches to always use all their timeouts and substitutions. That way they can prove they did everything they possibly could to win the game and everything after that is the fault of the players. In some professional leagues the coach can also directly impact the game by asking for video review (or using the video challenge). This is very often used by the coach as a quasi timeout, which explains why even the most successful coach in the Polish League wins only 39% of his challenges*. Which got me thinking…
So, inspired by Gordie Howe, I came up with a new kind of hat trick.
The Coach’s Hat Trick
A Coach’s Hat Trick is achieved when a coach, in the course of a single set, uses both his timeouts, all six substitutions AND twice challenges unsuccessfully. I can tell you from experience that this is not as easy as it sounds. Without going back and checking I am pretty sure that I twice got to within one challenge of a Coach’s Hat Trick. The hardest is definitely the the video challenge part of it. There are surprisingly few opportunities where a challenge is actually warranted, and not many more that are even close enough for a ‘challenge timeout’. I distinctly remember two occasions in which we were losing the set by a long way and I was searching for any delay of the game and was sitting with my finger on the button of that second challenge. But all in vain.
I hereby vow that next season I will do my utmost to finally achieve my now several hour long held goal of achieving the Coach’s Hat Trick. I will keep you posted.
* Another explanation would be that officials are actually pretty good at doing their job. Or at least better than they are often given credit for. But we all know that is not true.
Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.