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  • Writer's pictureJason

Founding Ideas Are Essential, Part 1

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Let's have a conversation about this. I find that most "arguments" or disagreements stem from a misunderstanding about where our foundation is. Until we get to the base of the issue, we won't get to where the actual disagreement. Usually this has to do with semantics - where I disagree with the definition of a word you're using. I think that this applies almost across the board to every aspect of our lives. We make decisions based our foundations or our core beliefs. Politics, religion and yes even coaching are all encompassed by this idea. Sometimes we have to break down to the nitty-gritty of a belief system or coaching style in order to get on the same page.

In the end we might be coming at something from a different perspective and so still disagree, but at least we understand each other and we aren't arguing over the definition of a word anymore. So yes, this concept even has roots in coaching and recruiting. Let's chat about it and hopefully you'll see what I'm talking about :)

Coaching - Training

To pepper or NOT to pepper "Jason! Why can't we pepper!"

Yes, there are coaches out there that don't think partner pepper is the greatest thing in the least there's me, I might be the only one. There are plenty of pepper enthusiasts out there as well, "If you want more touches...increase your ball-control, then you need to pepper." Now, I used pepper or variations of pepper all the time. When I was coaching in college we did group ball-control drills with or without a net; 3 person pepper; cooperative drills over the net...all sorts of different things that maybe you could trace back to pepper, maybe not. My stance on most of those things was if it's outside of a "warm-up" we wanted to incorporate the net as much as possible. My foundation (as it was) didn't hold onto to pepper as our basis for increasing ball-control. I thought there were better ways we could accomplish the goals and tasks we were trying to achieve. When I left college I didn't let me younger teams pepper. I noticed that almost ALL of the hitters I was working with NEVER (literally never) opened up their hips to the setter prior to swinging. While detrimental to middles because their window as a hitter becomes so small you can't really set them, for an OH it causes them to arch their back and lose ALL of their power and torque when they swing. "Well Jason, why not just teach them proper hitting technique?" Certainly I can do that and we worked on it a lot. But I removed pepper because everything single one those athletes was hitting a ball with their shoulders facing their target and NEVER opening them and using their hips to make contact. So, yes, we worked on technique but I removed the 100s of reps they were taking each practice that were negatively impacting their ability to improve.

Coaching - Game Management

Change the lineup...or keep it the same

This is honestly the complaint that I hear the most from parents. It comes from both sides equally I think. Again, I think this is a foundation issue. What is the coach's goal in doing structuring their lineup? If we know that, then we are welcome to complain about it one way or the other, but at least the knowledge about "why" is there.

There are basically two schools of thought here.

1) I am going to keep my starting lineup the same. We are going to play and start with our best players every night because they give us the best chance to win. We will do this even if we are playing the worst team in our conference, division or region. The more the starting group can play together they better they will learn from one another and improve because they will have spent more time playing with one another. I will do this even if we are up by 15.

2) I am going to regularly change the line-up. We will change where we start. We will change an athlete's starting position. I'll move an OH over to the RS if I think the match-up there will be more in our favor. I will start different athletes from the bench to get them experience or if another player is struggling. It's important for our whole roster to be comfortable playing with more than just the starters. So we're going to switch it up as much as possible.

A coach is going to think one way or the other. I personally know coaches that prefer doing one way or the other. Regardless of which option you prefer, their is merit to the other one. But if we don't know the reasoning or foundation of why a coach chooses one over the other, then we are going to have a hard time understanding what's is going on and we will come back to "Why are they doing it that way?" In the same way that a coach might be critical of another that uses pepper as their foundational way to teach ball control, until they know that, "hey, this is how I do it and here's why..."

And yes, this applies to recruiting as well :)

Look for Part 2 soon!

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