Archive for July, 2013

Australian Junior Volleyball Championships 2013

July 26, 2013

After a week and a bit, I have finally recovered from this year’s Australian Junior Volleyball Championships, hosted in my current home town of Canberra. This is the 5th year I’ve participated as a “coach” (or more accurately someone who is NOT playing, officiating or helping to run the event). It was a bit different for me on a couple of levels:

1) I worked with the Victorians and not South Australia. This was the first time I have represented a different state. I had applied to coach SA but since they had enough coaches apply, didn’t get a coaching or assisting role. I was offered a performance analyst role but declined (in truth I probably would have spent the week setting up tripods and putting together video no one was really interested in watching or using). I decided that since flying to Adelaide to be a performance analyst wasn’t all that different to flying to any other city in Australia to do the same, it was a good opportunity to experience working with different people. So I decided to work with a couple of good friends in Victoria – Bill (U19M Blue) and Sketch (U17M Blue) – who I had wanted to work with for years. I travelled to Melbourne 3 times to help out with the teams in preparation. Before that I helped by putting together video examples illustrating the aspects of the team playing systems.

2) I was a scout/performance analyst working with 3 teams. So i didn’t “belong” to a team but got to help teams in all 3 competitions. I have coded video for all my teams over the last year as a part of my coaching duties, but this was the first time I worked exclusively as a performance analyst/scout. Besides the mentor coach, I probably saw more men’s games than anyone else in U17s, U19s and U23s. Originally I was just helping out Bill (U19M Blue) and Sketch (U17M Blue) but as my schedule got lighter at the end of the week (all teams scouted) i helped out with Luke (U23M). I ended up watching and taking statistics for 29 games over the week which included VIC games and their opponents for scouting. It was enjoyable to work with a bunch of coaches who cared about doing a good job and worked in a very collaborative environment.

The Victorian coaches and players were really welcoming and appreciated the stuff I did. At the end of each day, a bunch of coaches across most of the Mens teams would hang out in one of the hotel rooms and we’d watch videos I put together. We’d watch clips from their games during the day and discuss player performances, or scouting video and come up with ideas for game plans. It was all very collaborative.

Interestingly the coaches all wanted different things from the video. One coach wanted to see what the other team did on Reception by rotation; Another just wanted to see what his own players did in certain situations (setter decisions, players transitioning etc); Another wanted individual spikers and individual receivers both on his team and the opponent.

In the end Sketch’s U17 team won the Gold medal in a classic 5-set match. One of the highlights was seeing the improvement of the setter, who at the beginning of the tournament would scarcely set a 1st tempo attack. By the Gold Medal Match he set the middle 5 times in the 5th set alone, including at 12-9 in transition. Persistent coaching and video review definitely helped.
(Match point of U17M Gold Medal Game)
Bill’s team had a great start to the tournament winning against strong teams from SA and WA. They didn’t have dominant stars but were incredibly disciplined in executing gameplans and each player stepped up to lift the team’s performance. On the penultimate day they played their worst game against a winless QLD White team and were knocked out of the Gold Medal game by a set. Unfortunately, the team could not repeat it’s win against SA in the bronze medal game and lost the bronze medal in 5 sets.
(VIC U19M’s kills from match against SA)
Luke’s team played some great volleyball all week and had the most attractive game to watch at the tournament. The 2 games they played against ACT where the highest quality matches of the whole tournament with both teams siding out for 10+ rallies straight to take the sets past the cap. In the first game, VIC needed to win to make the gold medal game, whereas ACT needed to win in straight sets to make the gold medal game. a 3-1 win to ACT knocked both teams from the gold medal match and set up a date for the bronze the next day. To ACT’s credit they continued to play well in the match for pride after a starter got injured in the first set, and the first set loss cost them the gold medal match. The rematch in the bronze medal match did not disappoint with both teams too strong siding out. The first set finished 39-37.  After a long stalemate, ACT won the game in the forth set at 33-31. The notable performance from the VIC team came from one of the middle attackers who scored 4 times in a row in the business end of the 4th set at 24-25, 25-25, 26-26 and 27-27.

(VIC U23M Middle Blocker Trent O’Dea kills 4 in-a-row on 24-25, 25-25, 26-26 and 27-27)

It was a great week, but life moves on. I’m back at work, and players are already asking for highlights and full games on video for college and overseas applications. Already I’m looking forward to next year’s tournament in Sydney!