How Long Should You Practice?
By Alexander Ketrzynski
Mark Lebedew makes some valuable observations for coaches in his blog post, “How Long Should You Practice?” Lebedew states that most coaches “want to train more” and they feel that “training is the the solution to all preformance problems.” As junior club coaches we yearn for more time with our players, but we are invariably limited to our four to six hours of weekly practice time plus competitions. We are constantly challenged to wring more out of every moment of court time we have.
Lebedew refers to Anders Ericsson’s research which concentrates on “how you have to practice.” Another great guide to getting more out of every moment of practice is Daniel Coyle’s “The Talent Code.” In addition to deriving more from each practice, Coyle describes how coaches may ignite “passion” in their players, and how the greatest teachers combine skill acquisition with passion.
Lebedew emphasises that if “focus and attention” are high, then we may be able to help our players improve. However, when they are low, our athletes may be in an environment that can lead to injury. As a player, I occasionally felt that practices where not helping me improve. As a coach, I’ve often worried that my efforts were not maximizing my players’ court time. The optimal situation during practices is having players who are working hard physically and are entirely focused on what they are being asked to do.
Due to the nature of volleyball, we must also make allowances for the stress on our players’ joints. This is even more important at more intensive levels or if our highschool seasons overlap with the club season. At a minimum we can achieve this by talking to our players about their activities outside of our own practices. We can ask them how they feel on a scale of one to ten and control their number of jumps accordingly. We have to “practice better,” according to Lebedew.
Alexander Ketrzynski is currently an assistant coach with the Pakmen Volleyball Club, and father of three sons who are also passionate about the game.
He was a member of the 1984 Canadian Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team.