decision-making skills

decision-making skills

Post by Chris Crad » Wed, 08 Mar 1995 12:37:30


Quote:
> I've been coaching volleyball for several years, and had the
> fortune of working with some of the greatest volleyball minds
> around.  Having the opportunity to watch other teams, it perplexes
> me that coaches don't teach decision-making during their
> practices.  Players will hit a thousand balls, technically
> correct, but when they get continually stuffed during a match, the
> coaches are frustrated (infuriated?) with them, even though the
> hitters will be hitting just as they practiced.  Similarly,
> setters may set correctly in a technical sense during a match, yet
> continually make ill-advised sets (e.g. to a hitter up against 2
> and 3 person block).
> I'd like to get some discussion going on this topic.  Why do
> coaches persist in pre***ly working on technical skills.  Why
> is there such little emphasis on decision-making in practices?  In
> my opinion, coaches should spend roughly half of practice time
> working on decision-making skills.  Or at least, if it isn't
> emphasized in practice, coaches shouldn't demand that players
> always make the right decisions during match-play.  I think that
> this applies to all ages, including at the beginner level.
> Please comment on this topic.

As a coach of a low-medium level girl's high school team, I know I
have not worked much on decision-making and I think, at least at
this level, I have a good reason.  With my team, I think it is much
more important to improve their technical mastery of skills to the
detriment of almost everything else.  If they learn to hit a ball
well, by doing it in practices and matches, they have a good chance
to gain insight into the decision-making process.  However, the
decision-making skills are meaningless if they don;t have the
technical (hitting, passing, etc.) skills to execute what they want
to do.  Furthermore, at this level, it's more a matter of team's
stopping themselves (i.e., a well-hit ball that is in is very
effective, becuase a lot of players hit out or into the net, and
there isn't that big of a block anyway), instead of running into
things the other team does to stop them.  I certainly talk strategy
with my team, going over what type of offense and defense another
team runs and how to defend and attack against them, but with the
amount of time we have, I think I'm much better off using that time
to improve skills, figuring that good skills will be enough.  At
higher levels, I see your point, but I don't think it'd be effective
at this level.  I completely agreed, however, that coaches should
not expect players to make correct decisions all the time.  I just
want my kids to give everything their best shot: sometimes it'll
work, sometimes it won't.  I realize, and I tell them, there are a
lot of other things out there, but I have decided to teach other
things first, and if something I didn't teach them about goes wrong,
it's obviously my fault, not theirs.
 
 
 

decision-making skills

Post by JamesASt » Sun, 12 Mar 1995 16:12:27

IMHO - The decision making part of executing a hit or set depends
on having the technical skill to look at what your up against.  My setter,

if he's not scrambling, looks at the defense at part of his setting
motion.
In clinics I've been to, a glance at the defense is part of the process of
both hitting and setting.  To hit around, through, over ... a block, I
simply need to keep the ball in front of me and seeing the block,
sub-conciously
changes my hit.  

 
 
 

decision-making skills

Post by Katsuhisa Dan O » Tue, 14 Mar 1995 13:51:06

: As a coach of a low-medium level girl's high school team, I know I
: have not worked much on decision-making and I think, at least at
: this level, I have a good reason.  With my team, I think it is much
: more important to improve their technical mastery of skills to the
: detriment of almost everything else.  If they learn to hit a ball
: well, by doing it in practices and matches, they have a good chance
: to gain insight into the decision-making process.  However, the
: decision-making skills are meaningless if they don;t have the
: technical (hitting, passing, etc.) skills to execute what they want
: to do.  Furthermore, at this level, it's more a matter of team's
: stopping themselves (i.e., a well-hit ball that is in is very
: effective, becuase a lot of players hit out or into the net, and
: there isn't that big of a block anyway), instead of running into
: things the other team does to stop them.  I certainly talk strategy
: with my team, going over what type of offense and defense another
: team runs and how to defend and attack against them, but with the
: amount of time we have, I think I'm much better off using that time
: to improve skills, figuring that good skills will be enough.  At
: higher levels, I see your point, but I don't think it'd be effective
: at this level.  I completely agreed, however, that coaches should
: not expect players to make correct decisions all the time.  I just
: want my kids to give everything their best shot: sometimes it'll
: work, sometimes it won't.  I realize, and I tell them, there are a
: lot of other things out there, but I have decided to teach other
: things first, and if something I didn't teach them about goes wrong,
: it's obviously my fault, not theirs.

Although I understand your point regarding this matter (having once
shared your opninions), I would have to disagree with you.  The
absolutely ideal time to begin decision-making training is at the very
initial stages of player development.

Consider this scenario.  Two players who have never played the sport of
volleyball begin their training under two different coaches - one who
pre***ly teaches basic skills such as bumping and setting (coach A);
and the other coach who places a heavy emphasis on teaching
decision-making (coach B).

The player playing for coach A works time and time again on developing
the traditional skills, and eventually becomes somewhat proficient at
them over time.  When the time finally comes to put those skills to test
under a competitive environment, the skills are performed as practiced,
but the actual results of in the game situation are a different story.  
Setters make poor decisions, hitters make poor decisions, blockers go up
but are no where near opposing hitters, defenders go to predetermined
spots on the floor without reacting to the set/hitters, etc.

The player playing for coach B immediately learns how to win in the game
of volleyball.  Forced into competitive situations, the player gains an
understanding of the tactical dynamics of volleyball i.e. how to score in
different situations.  This knowledge is complimented with technical
training so that the player can actually achieve her/his objectives
during the game.  THE TIME SPENT ON TECHNICAL TRAINING IS MEANINGFUL
BECAUSE THE PLAYERS HAVE A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING AS TO THE PURPOSE OF THE
SKILLS WHICH ARE BEING TAUGHT  I.E. IT TAKES LITTLE TIME FOR THE PLAYERS
TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE SKILLS ARE APPLIED IN GAME SITUATION.  When
competition starts, the players excel - the players (although not as
technically proficient as the players playing for coach A) repeatedly make
correct decisions (although possibly making more technical errors than
coach A's players due to not being as technically proficient).  Hitters
hit to open spots on the floor, blockers make good contacts on opposing
team's hits, defenders react to hitters and situations rather than simply
moving to predetermined spots like robots.

If this sounds far-fetched, believe me it is not.  The individual who
originally convinced me of this approach taught a volleyball class at the
University of Calgary.  There were all sorts of athletes in this class,
but most had never had any real training in the sport (e.g. football
players, etc.).  At the same time, another class was being taught by
another instructor (who also had fine credentials).  The first instructor
emphasized decision-making skills while the other emphasized basic
skills.  Near the end of the term, the classes competed in games, while
being observed by a neutral volleyball person.  That person commented
that the first instructor's group, although not as technically proficient
as the other group, were clearly outplaying the other class.

Now, some coaches may consider this as insignificant, but I have seen how
this applies to any sport.  The same instructor as I mentioned before
also coaches basketball, and in essentially the same manner that she
teaches volleyball.  I have seen her junior high school teams play and
they are frighteningly good.  She'll play her team in 2 different squads
(equal time throughout the match) and they will still beat teams by 30 or
more points.  They displayed teamwork and tactical play which would be
demonstrated by top high school teams.  Essentially it wound down to the
point that her players continually made correct decisions.  They may not
have always dribbled the ball in a pretty way or always shot in a
textbook fashion, but they continually outplayed their opposition in all
phases of the game.  That instructor recently did a study, and on one
occasion, she had her girls play some boys (same age) in a full-court
game.  The girls won, and convincingly (if I'm not mistaken).

Now, I don't deny that teaching basic skills is very important and must
be done at all levels.  However, seeing what I have seen (and you'll just
have to take my word on this, or wait for the results of the study), it
can't just be a fluke that players exposed to decision-making skills from
an early stage tend to be more successful in competitive situations than
other players.  By properly mixing the two styles, you can establish a
context for working basic skills.  Players understand why the skill is
necessary and must be performed properly.

Any coaches who are interested in general coaching progressions
implementing decision-making skills can e-mail me or demand that I post
something in this newsgroup.

Feel free to critique or comment...

Dan Ota
Dalhousie University, Men's Volleyball