October 15, 2008

Gold Medal Squared Volleyball Training Question

A good question about volleyball training philosophies:

Hello~ There are a hand full of top level (open/national competing in the top 10 of JO’s/Fest) clubs in our state. Two of the clubs train with the Gold Medal Squared program. How many top level (top 25) DI and DII schools train with the same methodology as GM2? Is this a new trend or one of the past?The reason I ask…the current club our DD has played on (and loves) uses GM2 training program…the other club does not use the same program, however, is the strongest club in our state. I know that being coachable is the key….She just had a visit to one of her schools of choice (an unofficial visit, of course) and the head coach (top 10 DI) really likes the GM2 and I’m wondering if this is ever a consideration when recruiting?

Let me preface my answer by acknowledging that I have never been to a Gold Medal Squared coaching clinic and have coached against one college team that was known to espouse the training philosophy. I have listened to a number of other coaches who either strongly support the GMS training or who completely disagree with the philosophy.

A general observation of volleyball training tends to lump the styles into two categories - Asian or Latin. The Asian style of training has been most visible as of late with the last two USA Women's National coaches being from the Orient and the continual success of the Chinese Women's National team. About a decade ago, the Latin style of training was all the rage as various coaches here in the USA sought to duplicate the style and success of the Brazilian, Cuban and Argentinian national teams.

These two styles of training have found secure homes - Asian with the female players and Latin with the male players; this is a broad statement but generally true.

It is my understanding that the Gold Medal Squared philosophy was an outgrowth of a business or camp enterprise started by certain individuals with USA National Team gold medal backgrounds - Doug Beal, Marv Dunphy, Carl McGowen, among others (please do not hold me absolutely true to these individuals as I have not been to a clinic nor received written information). Because of the experience and success of the directors of GMS, they have garnered quite a following of club and college coaches who support this training style.

My opinion of this training style is three fold - One, I think that it is good that an American style of training is being promoted. Two, this style was developed by men's volleyball coaches and thus tends to be a bit more applicable to the men's game (yet, it will continue to expand into the women's game as various techniques cross over with the physical development of female players). Three, this is a business enterprise that makes a lot of money because they market, promote and price this knowledge aggressively.

As for the number of college programs that train with the GMS ideas, I would hazard to say it is rather small. I believe a greater number of club programs would be using this philosophy than college. Gold Medal Squared is a newer philosophy that is on the higher end of skill development, so many of the current college coaches would not have played under this style. As current players become college coaches, one would expect the GMS system to gain a larger audience.

With regards to recruiting, I would not think it matters too much what philosophy a player was trained under, but rather what are the physical skills, personality traits, etc. that a player currently possesses. Sure, there are times that certain training may drop a player a bit on a ranking - For instance, I do not agree with the Asian style of passing as taught by USA Women's volleyball, but I do appreciate the footwork patterns used.

In terms of training for volleyball, two items come to play for me - One, it must be a safe training environment. I have seen some coaches doing really dumb drills where it is just a matter of time until someone gets hurt. Two, a coach should develop and adhere to a certain training philosophy. Players need consistency and if changes are made they should be small adjustments, not bouncing between styles based on the latest clinic the coach attended.