Tuesday, 28 May 2024

HP Clinic Lessons Shared

So we are in the fourth day of this year’s USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches’ Clinic and CAP I,II, III sessions here at the Olympic Training Center. In this article, we will share some valuable insights and lessons from the clinic, presented by industry experts Hugh McCutcheon, Tom Hogan, and Peter Vint. These experienced coaches are passionate about teaching the sport and have valuable ideas to inspire both athletes and coaches in the High Performance indoor pipeline.

Learning from the Experts

The clinic provides a unique opportunity for interaction with these knowledgeable coaches. Remember, teaching is also a way of learning. Engage with the coaches and ask them about their takeaways from the sessions. This exchange of knowledge will benefit both parties and foster a deeper understanding of the sport.

Building on a Legacy

One of the coaches, Hugh McCutcheon, emphasized the importance of passing skills and brought Nicole Davis, libero for the 2008 Silver medal women’s Olympic team, to demonstrate his ideas. He stressed the core ideas of repeatability, variance, and risk management in developing players of all ages and skill levels. Let’s delve into these concepts:

  • Repeatability: The ability to consistently perform a skill successfully, regardless of the level of competition, is crucial. As coaches, we should focus on helping players improve their success rate.

  • Variance: Simplifying movements and minimizing variations can increase the chance of repeatability. Consistency is key, so encourage efficient and economical movements to enhance performance.

  • Risk Management: Managing risks effectively is vital for success. For example, positioning the setter’s target slightly off the net allows for more flexibility in errors without compromising playability. By understanding these strategic adjustments, teams can improve their performance.

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Shaping the Future

The clinic covered various other topics that will be available through the USA Volleyball office in the near future. While the announcement of the new men’s team coach is expected soon, Hugh McCutcheon’s vision for the women’s program is already taking shape. He emphasized the principles and science of the game, which transcend gender. As coaches, we should embrace these principles and base our teaching on scientific evidence rather than personal preferences.

Challenging Myths

During the clinic, Hugh and Peter Vint debunked several myths related to volleyball. Through scientific studies from the Biomechanics lab, they provided evidence to counter these misconceptions. Here are a few examples:

  • The wrist snap is not the sole determinant of attacking success.
  • An athlete’s ability to read the game and make correct decisions can be improved.
  • Toed-in base positions are not always the best for passers, defenders, or blockers.
  • Starting a move on the balls of the feet does not always result in faster movement times.
  • Peaking at the instant of ball contact is not necessarily advantageous.

Their myth-busting segment showcased the importance of evidence-based coaching and the role of science in dispelling misconceptions.

Generalized Specialists and Enjoyment of the Game

In the closing session, Hugh emphasized the need for “generalized specialists” in volleyball. While specialization is prevalent, he urged coaches to encourage players to develop all facets of their game. The key is to approach the teaching process from a holistic perspective, allowing players to cultivate teamwork and excel in multiple skill sets.

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Additionally, Hugh stressed the importance of making the game fun. As coaches, our primary aim should be to create an enjoyable environment that fosters players’ passion for the sport. Positive reinforcement and catching players doing things right have a longer-lasting impact than negative feedback.


Q: What are some key takeaways from the High Performance Coaches’ Clinic?

A: The clinic emphasized the importance of repeatability, variance, and risk management in player development. It also highlighted the value of evidence-based coaching, debunking common myths in the sport.

Q: How can coaches create a positive and enjoyable environment for players?

A: Coaches should focus on catching players doing things right and providing positive reinforcement. Making the game fun and emphasizing teamwork are also essential aspects of creating a positive experience.


In summary, the USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches’ Clinic provided valuable insights into player development and coaching methodologies. The clinic emphasized the principles and science of the game, transcending gender differences and personal preferences. Coaches were encouraged to prioritize repeatability, minimize variance, and effectively manage risks. The importance of evidence-based coaching and the dispelling of common myths were also highlighted. By embracing these lessons, coaches can contribute to the growth and success of the sport.