Wednesday, January 01, 2014

"Informal Part of Sports"...Almost

Tips from Stanford coach John Dunning...on skill development

from the Art of Coaching Volleyball series

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

MacInnes Named to Herald All-Scholastic Team

Jill MacInnes, Melrose volleyball libero, garnered another honor with selection as a Boston Herald All-Scholastic. Congratulations to Jill on hard-earned recognition for outstanding play and leadership.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Is success about talent or process?

In "The Talent Code", Daniel Coyle examines hotbeds of talent throughout the world, music academies, schools, the Brazil soccer experience, Moscow's Spartak Tennis Club, and more. 

Here's an image from his marvelous book, that I recommend for every coach and every serious athlete. The proper 'deep practice' or from Anders Ericsson's 'deliberate practice' is the key. Developing technical mastery of your musical instrument, scholarship, or athletic event creates your 'talent'.  

Muscles have no memory. We imprint, myelinate nerve pathways in our brain that allows us to perform better, faster, and more consistently. The problem is that if we learn to do it 'wrong', then we perfect doing it WRONG. We learn poor technique and poor decision-making, the negative intersection of hard skills with soft skills. All of which is why learning 'the right way' means so much, whether it's learning to study or the offensive attack in volleyball. 

But what's BOROT'SYA? It's a Russian word for "struggle" or "fight", the challenge the would-be expert must face to achieve mastery. 

In a subsequent book, "The Little Book of Talent" Coyle tells us the following:

At all of the talent hotbeds, from Moscow to Dallas to Brazil to New York, I saw the same facial expression: eyes narrow, jaw tight, nostrils flared, theface of someone intently reaching for something, falling short, and reaching again. 

Deep practice has a telltale emotional flavor, a feeling that can be summed up in one word: “struggle.” Most of us instinctively avoid struggle, because it’s uncomfortable. It feels like failure. However, when it comes to developing your talent, struggle isn’t an option—it’s a biological necessity. The struggle and frustration you feel at the edges of your abilities—that uncomfortable burn of “almost, almost”—is the sensation of constructing new neural connections, a phenomenonthat the UCLA psychologist Robert Bjork calls “desirable difficulty.” Your brain works just like your muscles: no pain, no gain.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Breakup Dinner: Tradition

Positive culture has been an important part of Melrose volleyball for over a decade. Teamwork, enthusiasm, energy, sacrifice, persistence, and respect have all contributed to continuing success.

Tonight at the Montvale Plaza, the team celebrated the 2013 season and the their accomplishments on and off the court. After a delicious buffet dinner, the coaching staff enumerated team achievements and presented certificates and awards.

  • Four year record (seniors) 91-9
  • Four year Middlesex League record 65-1
  • Three Division 2 North titles
  • Four Middlesex League titles
  • Last three seasons undefeated in Middlesex League
  • State Championship (2012)
  • Varsity and JV Middlesex League 2013 each 16-0
  • Program (Varsity, JV, Freshman)  GPA 3.69  (great job, ladies!)
Coaches Celli, Wall, and Basteri presented players with certificates and awards while highlighting some of their amusing anecdotes. 

Coach Celli presented varsity individual awards:

Massachusetts Girls Volleyball Coaches Association All-State selection - Jill MacInnes
Middlesex League MVP - Jill MacInnes
Middlesex League All-stars - Annalisa DeBari, Meri Lessing, Jill MacInnes, Allie Nolan

Team Awards
  • Top server - Maeve Moriarty
  • Top defender - Jill MacInnes
  • Most improved - Cat Torpey
  • Unsung hero - Annalisa DeBari
  • MVP - Jill MacInnes
  • Coach's award - Allie Nolan
The attendees viewed another outstanding team highlight video produced by Jeff Mate'. 

The ceremonial handing down of team traditions like "Who Let the Dogs Out?", post-road game brownies, and Tootsie Pops were distributed. 

Coach Celli reviewed his goals and expectations for next season. As outstanding as this season was, Coach noted that next season could even be better. 

He outlined the criteria for captaincy, including application, interview procedures, faculty and Athletic Director oversight, and voting procedure. The 2014 Captains were then introduced:

Allie Nolan
Meri Lessing
Victoria Crovo

Congratulations on a terrific season.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Don'ts for Off-Season Play

Hat tip to Jeff Mate' for sourcing this:

Now that we’re in tryout season, players nationwide are focused on impressing club coaches so they can earn a spot on the team. Art of Coaching Volleyball is here to help. We asked a few top club coaches to share things they DON’T want to see from players during a tryout. If you’re a player, read and heed. If you’re a coach, pass it along to your players.
1. Don’t give your setter a hard time. Got blocked? Fine. Move on.
2. Don’t bring your cell phone into the gym. Coaches don’t want to see you texting when you should be concentrating on volleyball.
3. Don’t form cliques. Be sure rotate who your partner is for drills and invite new people into your group.
4. Don’t ever quit on a ball, even if you know it’s unlikely that you’ll get to it. Even in pepper!
5. Don’t talk when the coach is talking – it’s disrespectful and sends a bad message to the coach.
6. Don’t do anything halfway -- lazy footwork on freeballs, not covering the hitter, etc.
7. Don’t pay attention to your parents on the sidelines. No conversations or gestures. Coaches want to focus on the player, not the parent.
8. Don’t carry a mistake with you into the next play. A coach can tell by your body language if you’re not over being blocked on the previous point.
9. Don’t be resistant to stepping into another position even if it’s not the one you’re trying out for. Coaches want players who can adjust and are willing to be versatile if that’s what’s needed to make a drill work or help the team.
10. Don’t give off a negative vibe. Look like you’re having fun playing the game. Smile, be upbeat, support your teammates, enjoy yourself. Coaches like players who bring positive energy to the court.
Bonus: Don’t show up for a tryout wearing a T-shirt from a rival club.
Written by Don Patterson