By Francois St-Denis
Canada went from being a two time host of the Olympic Games without any gold medals (1976, 1988) to a powerhouse. Indeed, as the hosting nation, Canada now has the record for the most gold medal wins during a winter olympics (2010). Similarly, the Mavericks Volleyball Club went about its business for twenty years without winning a single provincial or national championship. In the last three years, it won one provincial championship and four national championships. What was the catalyst for such drastic changes? An innovative program called Athlete’s Long Term Development.Here are some of the key components of this program that apply very well to volleyball:
- The ten year rule: an athlete needs to train 10,000 hours (3 hours per day for 10 years) to reach the highest levels. This means that a lot of time has to be invested in perfecting a move;
- Holistic Development: All facets of the athlete must be developed, including emotional, cognitive, mental, physical, and technical;
- Acquiring a physical know-how is critical: athletic abilities must first be developed (for ex.: being nimble, balanced, coordinated, and quick, as well as being able to jump, throw, etc.) at every level, in order to develop the basics required to excel at the athletic level;
- Volleyball is a sport where athletes bloom late. They reach their maximum potential in their twenties, meaning that specializing too early, whether for position (the smaller athlete is libero and the tallest is center), or for technique (only the strongest practice receiving serves, and only centers practice quick attacks, etc.);
- The optimal competition-training ratio: there is an ideal combination of training and tournaments (for example, school teams at the junior level must train 3 hours for each hour of competition);
- Opportune times for training capacity: depending on their growth rate and maturity level, the athlete is predisposed to develop some specific abilities (for example, start strength training for the female athlete after the first period).
Follow the link below to consult Volleyball Canada’s Training Guide. I am convinced that you will quickly remember some key concepts which will immediately improve your abilities as a coach. These concepts will also have a prolonged impact on your players’ physical, technical and psychological aptitudes.