McKeown delivers motivational workshop on long-term player development

Some 55 participants from around the world joined the webinar hosted on Thursday by Stephen McKeown of England, as the CEV Technical and Development Department continues to provide coaches and physical education teachers working at the grassroots level with valuable opportunities to enhance their knowledge of the Volleyball game. This was the second webinar organised this year in conjunction with the highly successful CEV project ‘Play Volleyball – Grow with it’.

In a workshop focussing on long-term player development, McKeown, Course Director of Sports Coaching at Leeds Beckett University, emphasised that coaches should develop their entire player – i.e. tactically, technically, and psycho-bio-socially as well.

If a coach wants to follow a pre-conceived training programme, there are many scientifically based such programmes available that align key physical capabilities with a child’s chronological age.

Kids up to age 13 should be sampling different sports activities/movements before specialisation, so in relation to Volleyball trainings, the activities proposed should have a variety of athletically challenging exercises. The coaches can split training years/phases into several categories, where they can implement different levels of difficulty in the training programme, such as:

  • Recreational years
  • Sampling years
  • Investment years
  • Specialisation years

McKeown stressed that Volleyball implies a constant interaction between space and time (e.g. attack – defence relation), with young players slowly but surely learning how to create and take away space and time to make life more difficult for the opponent.

The Englishman provided an example of how to introduce this concept with kids, challenging them to think about it and show their understanding. Research shows value in both short-term and long-term practices but long-term practices lead to higher retention with children, and can be more easily transferred into the game later on. With this in mind, McKeown did show during the webinar a number of examples of long-term practices.

Finally, while discussing psychological variables, McKeown stressed that children can experience failure a lot, so it is important that the teacher/coach help them understand that effort/practice over time will help and pay dividends, thus encouraging and supporting the growth of their self-esteem.

“Do not be afraid to make adjustments and changes to training programmes if you observe problems and reach out to National Federations and other coaches for insights and resources,” McKeown said in his final address to the attendees.

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