Blog #4 - Ted Lasso

Blog #4 - Ted Lasso

Lesson 1. The Underdog. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” (Tim Notke)

An “underdog” is a person or group in a competition, who is largely expected to lose. The team expected to win is called the favourite or “top dog”. Think David vs Goliath. There are numerous reasons why we support the underdog. Ambition, aspiration, inspiration, relatability. When Harbour Raiders B won a set against their A team at Club Nationals, we started to see some typical underdog and top dog behaviours on display. In the 2nd set, we witnessed the crowd getting behind Raiders B, allowing them to find another gear. They put in more effort and their desire to be successful was heightened. The Raiders A team, on the other hand, underestimated their opponent and allowed for complacency to creep in. Kudos to the Harbour Raiders A team, who were able to reverse the phenomenon, regain their status as the superior team, and go on to win the entire event!

Implications for Coaching Practice:

- If you’re coaching the “underdog” team, the measure of success might not be on the scoreboard. If the goal is to beat the opposition, it is important to undergo additional physical and mental preparation, so that players go into the game with a heightened sense of confidence.

Lesson 2. Superstars play by their own rules. “No one is bigger than the team and individual brilliance does not automatically lead to outstanding results. One selfish mindset will infect a collective culture” (James Kerr)

Volleyball is truly a team sport. No one can touch the ball twice in succession, and therefore, the game requires players to use each other to generate a successful outcome. Players alternate who serves. So, everyone on the team is important and feels like they are contributing. The saying “you’re only as good as your weakest player” is true for volleyball.

It is a widely held belief in sport that team culture can have a big impact on how a team functions and performs. Tony Readings (All Whites Assistant Coach) once told me “Your biggest competitor is your own culture”. Someone who looks out for themselves or prioritises their own success above the team’s success (and wellbeing) is likely to inflict damage on the way the team thinks, feels, and behaves.

Implications for Coaching Practice:

- It is important that coaches pay equal attention to all players and facets of the game. The success of a team requires the integration of team members efforts. It is important for coaches to help group members understand their roles, provide them with the confidence and competence to execute their role, and encourage/support them to play their part within the system.

- It is also important that coaches understand the value of establishing and growing a positive team culture. Team culture should not be considered an add on. It requires nurturing. Developing a positive team culture requires 3 things. 1. Vision. What is our purpose? Where are we heading? 2. Values. What do we stand for? The best and the worst teams have the same values. What’s important, is the way you portray your values. 3. Establish Areas – on court, off court, etc. What do we need to do persistently and consistently in each area?

Lesson 3. BELIEVE. What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create” (Buddha)

Self-confidence is when you believe in yourself and your abilities. It is a personality trait and a psychological state (your state of mind at any given time). Self-confidence can fluctuate depending on the circumstances or situation. Generally speaking, evidence indicates that self-confidence has a positive impact on sports performance. If we dig a bit deeper, self-confidence impacts performance via mechanisms such as increasing effort, selecting appropriate strategies, and regulating unwanted thoughts and emotions (Michie et al.) Due to the nature of volleyball, it is also important to recognise that self-confidence can fluctuate as the game progresses, between points, sets, timeouts, the impact of a big play, and so on.

Implications for Coaching Practice:

-  It is important that, as coaches, we understand that telling a player to ‘be more confident’ or ‘play with confidence’ is likely to have little impact on someone’s self-confidence. However, we can support players to draw on different sources and/or mechanisms that will positively influence their confidence. Confidence can be drawn from an ability to perform specific skills (serving, setting, etc.), physical factors (effort, strength, etc.) and psychological factors (leadership, communication, etc.).

Lesson 4. Cohesion. Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is a success” (Henry Ford)

Members of larger groups (indoor volleyball) experience greater difficulties cooperating compared to smaller groups (beach volleyball) and members reduce their effort when they know there are others contributing. Eccles explained that athletes must align three things to achieve optimal teamwork: action, timing, and location. The aim here is for members to achieve a specific action (set - spike) at a specific time, at a specific location. If the timing is off, or the pass is out of reach, coordination diminishes. Within a team setting like volleyball, completing a task requires multiple brains. Therefore, the aim is to achieve a ‘shared knowledge state’ so that team members can draw on the same knowledge during games, leading to more effective coordination.

Implications for Coaching Practice:

-  It is imperative that coaches give enough time for players to learn their roles. There is evidence to suggest that athletes who have a vague understanding of their role tend to report weaker perceptions of team cohesion. It is also advantageous for team trainings to accurately reflect the game requirements as well as have players contribute to a shared understanding of the action, timing, and location of the task.

Volleyball New Zealand | Poirewa Aotearoa
Oceania Volleyball
Volleyball New Zealand Inc
Sports House, Stadium Drive,
Albany, Auckland, New Zealand