December 6, 2009

How to Improve as an Assistant Volleyball Coach?

Hi Coach,

I'm an assistant coach at a small D III school and first of all just want to wish you a happy recovery from your season. I think I'm finally starting to enjoy being around people again and able to complete coherent sentences being two weeks removed from our season.

Here is my background: I completed my undergrad in 2008 and miraculously became an assistant coach for my alma matter this past season. My volleyball experience is pretty much limited to being a volleyball junkie and playing as much as I possibly can. No club or collegiate experience. And oh ya, I am male coaching a female team.

My question is simple, what is the best/most efficient way to spend my time to become a better assistant for my coach and players? Conferences, seminars, CAP programs? What are things your assistants do that you really appreciate?

Thanks again,


Congratulations on obtaining a position - It can be a tough thing to get your foot in the door of Collegiate Coaching and I commend you for wishing to maximize your abilities.

Because of your limited experience in collegiate volleyball, I suggest you expose yourself to as much collegiate volleyball situations as possible. Various suggestions:

1. The American Volleyball Coaches Association National Convention and NCAA Women's Volleyball National Championship. This co-event will allow you to attend a series of professional development seminars, watch the Final Four teams practice and compete and interact with other college coaches. The down side is this event can be a bit expensive to attend; hopefully your school can support you attending.

2. USA Volleyball offers developmental opportunities via its Coaches Accreditation Program or CAP series. Also, USA Volleyball sponsors a number of summer international competitions for college age group teams, and college coaches usually fill the coaching needs. I have no idea how 'competitive' it is to obtain such a spot as a coach on these teams thought? Information on the CAP series and other education can be found at

3. Reach out to other college programs, especially Division I schools within your area. Division I teams train a lot, sometimes too much; but, what this means for you is the opportunity to observe them practicing. The DI season starts early in August, runs until after Thanksgiving, starts up again with group training immediately after the Spring Semester and finish with full team training for 6 weeks in the late spring. Make a courtesy call to the head coach asking to come observe practice; and I think you might be suprised in what you can learn.

4. Consider coaching an older age group in Club Volleyball. I know it is not college volleyball, but getting game coaching and player management experience is very important.

What my assistant's do which I appreciate? - Everything which I tell them to do!!! I say this in half jest - Assistants need to remember that they are there to assist the Head Coach and are not an autonomous coach for the program. It gives me one less thing to worry about knowing that the 'to-do' list I assign my assistant will be taken care of quickly and completely. Also, it is important that my assistants are very careful in their interaction with players concerning anything substantial. Shooting the breeze is fine, but manageing delicate playing, academic or team issues are not to be undertaken without my direction, if at all.

My feelings about this are due to the fact that if something goes haywire with the program, the head coach is the one who has to explain/meet with athletic directors; not an assistant. If an assistant does their own thing or injects their wishes into the equation, it can be a tough situation for all.

Good luck!

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