Category Archives: Latest News

Stress management in the spotlight in latest School Project webinar

The Secretary of the European Medical Commission (EMC), Dr Zoran Nikolovski, who currently works at the University of Split, delivered a very engaging session on Thursday afternoon to complete the second series of webinars organised and run by the CEV Technical and Development Department. With 15 years of Volleyball coaching and research in the field of sports psychology alongside his medical expertise, Dr Nikolovski had a wealth of information to share on how to manage stress with as many as 78 attendees. 

He has been involved in some research related to stress management and breathing exercises / their effect on our physiology. In the future, this project will continue under the support and endorsement of CEV to measure and witness the effects on referees. The experiment and exercises can apply to the lives of coaches and practically anyone who encounters stress.

Dr Nikolovski started his lecture with the definition of stress and mentioning the General Adaptation Syndrome, which explains stress response. Do we always know where stress comes from, or what it is exactly? Is stress manageable? Can we avoid it? He said that we can find ways to limit it, change the situation, adapt, accept what we cannot change, and even try to have fun. There are many popular methods and practices to help reduce stress including yoga, meditation, nature, self-hypnosis, etc.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) reflects the way we control our emotions. It speeds up on inhalation and slows down when we exhale. Moreover, HRV decreases when we breathe fast and have negative thoughts/emotions. This means that training our breathing can help the heart’s response to stress, knowing that HRV in the end affects stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin in our bodies.

Dr Nikolovski continued explaining that oscillations (movement back and forth in a regular rhythm) naturally occur in our body, and the goal is to find the right balance so that we can perform better both mentally and physically.

Slow diaphragmatic breathing affects the autonomic nervous system, with Nikolovski showing photos of a sensor demonstration, on how this breathing is measured on a person. Moreover, he shared a video of what the breathing exercise looks like on a monitor and the changes of paces. The exercise usually lasts for 20 seconds, and the software gives a feedback showing your progress towards resonant breathing. The collection of samples shows a continuous drop in hormone levels, thus indicating that this exercise has effects from the beginning! This means that there are measurable ways to lower stress levels.

Dr Nikolovski shared a video demo of the Breath Pacer app, available on smartphones, and explained how anyone can use it in their daily life. Users can adjust the time of inhale/time of exhale/times of holding the breath/total time of exercise, thus achieving lower levels of stress.

Next, he showed the photo of a handball coach’s heart-rate timeline, over the course of a match day, from driving to the sports hall to warmups to continue with match time and after the match. There was a clear spike in HRV during the match, and lowered levels of stress afterwards. The collection of the very same info a second time during a different match showed much lower stress levels after the coach did 20 minutes of resonant breathing exercises before the game.

The session finished with an interactive Q&A session with a focus on stressors and the way to deal with these, in daily life as much as in a Volleyball environment.

scotland’s September to Remember

Today is a historic day in the history of our sport.

A short time ago we launched our new logo and brand.This has been a culmination of months of hard work with my board, staff, volunteers, and I hope you are as excited about it as we all are.

This new image is the tip of the iceberg of our new and exciting programme of development work that has been undertaken to enhance the quality and expertise that exists within our sport.  Our aim is to improve how we communicate with our membership and provide a platform for a strong future.  This is much more than a new colour scheme, font and logo.  As a staff team and board, we have been on a journey to develop a new mission, vison and values document that will be our compass and foundation for all future work.

We are coming towards the end of a 12-year development strategy which had the strap line of Bigger, Better, Stronger.  As we emerge from this global pandemic, I am delighted that our sport is returning with a clear vision for the future, with a fresh modern image and a drive and purpose that I have no doubt will allow us to reach new heights.

Every aspect of our new brand has been designed and planned with great detail.  The colour scheme embodies our countries sporting pedigree with a modern twist, the deep navy which reflects the history of sport in Scotland. This is complimented by a light blue based on the modern saltire and completed a rich vibrant purple which mirrors the iconic Scottish hill side heather.  The logo itself is formed with the S and V and shaped into a volleyball and we think it’s a great new fit for our sport.  Moving forward, we will be known as Scottish Volleyball and I know it will take a bit of time for us all to get used too, this new streamlined title reflectsour modern approach.

Please keep an eye on our social media throughout the day as we share more and more of our new image.  Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the key work our graphic designer, Megan Raats, who has undertaken this process on behalf of Scottish Volleyball.  Megan, who is a recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh and a volleyball player was the perfect fit for this project.  Not only does she have expertise and knowledge of graphic design, she is also part of the Scottish volleyball family. Her keen and innovative vision has allowed our ideas to be drawn into the amazing new brand.

Megan was able to make our vision of a new identity come to reality. It has not been an easy process; we have had countless versions and setbacks over the course of the past 10 months. I would like to personally thank Megan for her great work and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending her.  If you would like to see her incredible works, you can have a look at her website and portfolio here! You can also follow her on Instagram and LinkedIn.

The next few weeks will give you an opportunity to see some of the new industry leading partnerships that we are entering into in this new era for Scottish Volleyball.  We look forward to you being involved with us for what is going to be an incredibly exciting journey.

Margaret Ann Fleming, MBE


2021 schedule builds anticipation for VNL return

From Canada’s Calgary in the north and west to Japan’s Kyoto in the east and Argentina’s San Juan in the south, cities across the globe are getting ready to host the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League as the competition returns to inspire Volleyball fans the world over.

The 2021 VNL is set to start on May 11 for the women and May 14 for the men, retaining the format of previous seasons. The 16 teams per gender will meet in four-team pools over five weeks, to determine the top six that will then fight it out for the titles.

The venues for the final rounds remain to be confirmed, with the Women’s Finals set to be held in China and the Men’s Finals in Italy, both from June 23 to 27. That will bring the season to a climax ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, now scheduled for July 23 to August 8.

Men’s defending champions Russia, aiming for their third title in as many editions of the event since its introduction in 2018, will begin their quest at Jiangmen alongside hosts China, Iran and Japan over the first week of competition from May 14 to 16.

Reigning world champions Poland start off at home, hosting Serbia, Italy and Slovenia in the first week and reigning Olympic champions Brazil play their first week in the United States where the hosts also entertain Argentina and Canada.

The women’s defending champions USA will also be looking at a third back-to-back title when they embark on the road to the finals from the Cuiabá pool, from May 11 to 13, against hosts Brazil, Canada and the Dominican Republic. The clash between Brazil and USA on this opening week will be a rematch of the 2019 final, in which the North Americans prevailed in five dramatic sets to win the title.

Reigning women’s world champions Serbia travel to Italy for the opening week against the hosts, Turkey and Poland, while reigning Olympic champions China (hosts of the VNL finals for a third season running) welcome Japan, Korea and Thailand in Ningbo.

The 2021 VNL will be the third edition of the event, after the cancellation of the 2020 competition due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here for further information.

Volleyball Ireland launches Youth Beach Tour

Volleyball Ireland yesterday (July 29) introduced its first National Beach Tour, specifically designed for junior players. The innovative programme will see players aged 14 to 18 battle it out in events located on the West (Fanore, Co Clare) and East (Bettystown, Co Meath) of Ireland. The 3vs3 format will see Tour ranking points allocated for standout performances.

Ahead of the competition, training days will be held in the same venues to aid the transition from indoor court to the sand, providing players with specific beach skills and tactics. The tour is the second stage in the formation of age group National Teams in Beach Volleyball, with Ireland expected to compete internationally in 2021.

Conor Flood, Development Officer for Volleyball Ireland said, “The project builds upon our first ever Beach Volleyball Performance Camp last year, in which 24 players took part in a three-day residential camp. This next step will help us form regional training squads who will then filter into Team Ireland next season. It is a really exciting time to be involved in Volleyball with lots of great opportunities for young players.”

This new development carries on the work created by the CEV Beach Volleyball Development grant – which helped Ireland develop a National Tour and promote Beach Volleyball around the country.

A number of experienced Beach Volleyball coaches, all of which have played internationally, will deliver expert coaching, with Luciana Hollanda (Brazil), Viera Hauriskova (Slovakia), Lee Annand (South Africa) and Mikal O’Boyle (USA) overseeing the training element on the programme, which is open to anyone interested in playing Beach Volleyball.

The project is funded through the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s (OFI) Discretionary Fund.

General Manager of Volleyball Ireland, Gary Stewart added, “We are incredibly grateful to the OFI for this specific funding, as well as our core funder Sport Ireland and international partner CEV. They are helping us deliver local programmes with national benefits that will create a proper system for developing the next generation of Beach Volleyball players. The intention is that this programme will lead to international competition participation at youth level, but will also strengthen our own national tour in years to come.”

Bettystown was the venue for the 2019 CEV Continental Cup – a Beach Volleyball Olympic qualifier featuring eight teams from across Europe. The FIVB World Tour was due to stop off in Meath earlier this month, but COVID-19 restrictions resulted in the cancellation of the event.

Pop up and play – Scottish Volleyball announce support fund for clubs

We have all been through unprecedented and tough times recently, and through it all, the top priority for Scottish Volleyball has always been the well-being and safety of each of their members and the wider volleyball and sports community.

As per Scottish Government guidelines and timeline, Scotland are currently going through Phase 3 of the easing of the lockdown restrictions. With the Scottish Government, sportscotland, and Scottish Volleyball guidance in mind, the members of the Scottish Volleyball family are excited to be able to return to some limited outdoor volleyball activity!

Scottish Volleyball want to help the volleyball community get back on court as quickly and safely as possible. Therefore, the organisation is delighted to announce an historic Volleyball Support Fund for clubs to the total value of £10,000!

The support fund for Pop up and Play gives clubs the opportunity to get their hands on some portable outdoor volleyball equipment to the value of £300 per court.

Scottish Volleyball believe that clubs can play a crucial role in supporting local communities and individuals out of lockdown with the undeniable social benefits we all get from volleyball and the connections it presents, hence the organisation provides clubs with a platform to make this happen.

The ultimate aim of the Volleyball Support Fund is to support the Scottish Volleyball community, and the wider communities in which clubs are based, to a safe return to volleyball by helping clubs to get their players and coaches back and to bridge the gap between lockdown and full and safe resumption of indoor volleyball. Scottish Volleyball want to ensure Scottish clubs are equipped to do this.

When asked about the Volleyball Support Fund for Clubs, Margaret Ann Fleming MBE, CEO of Scottish Volleyball and CEV Vice-President said: “I am delighted that at Scottish Volleyball we have been able to pull together this support fund for our clubs. As we move through this unprecedented time, it is essential to come together and help to reignite the club sport landscape. Through this fund and the dedication of our clubs we will enjoy outdoor volleyball in anticipation of indoor starting as soon as the Scottish Government allows for it.”

Northern Ireland Volleyball adjusts to COVID-19 as activities resume

Back in March, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic halted the whole world, including the Volleyball community. Matches stopped, training ceased, and players had to give up the sport they love to help stop the spread of the novel virus, but it was brilliant to see how everyone adjusted to the changing times. In Northern Ireland, national teams created fun challenges for each other and continued to participate in weekly fitness classes via Zoom.

Recently restrictions have eased, allowing up to 30 people to meet outdoors, which has meant some training and Beach Volleyball has started again.

Over the last two weeks, the national teams have been busy putting together a plan to return to training in a safe way. The members of the women’s national team met in small groups of eight to train on grass courts in Belfast with their coach Stephen McKeown, with the programme set over several evenings to allow maximum training with minimum players. Therefore, each player participated in three training sessions throughout the week with the same group every time, thus keeping contact with players to a minimum.

Members of the Northern Ireland women’s national team training on grass courts in Belfast together with their coach Stephen McKeown

The junior girls (pictured above) and development players followed a similar protocol, training on the beach courts in Portadown with small groups over the course of four days with their coach Karl Gale.

According to the agreed procedures, temperatures of players were taken before and after each session. Moreover, hand sanitising throughout and rotating ball carts made sure that all equipment could be cleaned between drills. It was great to see the teams back playing and working together whilst maintaining safety and social distancing measures.

Jeff and Sarah Scott were among the players to contest the mixed Beach Volleyball tournament held last week in Portrush, Northern Ireland

Beach Volleyball has also resumed in Portrush with a small mixed pairs tournament last Thursday. As many as 11 teams entered the tournament allowing three pools, followed by a Cup and Plate competition. Once again, players were encouraged to clean hands and equipment regularly which kept the play as safe as possible. It was so good to see so many familiar faces back on the beach for Volleyball.

There will be a single-gender Beach Volleyball tournament in Portrush this weekend following the same guidelines. Northern Ireland Volleyball hope that activities can continue throughout the summer and restrictions will ease further, thus allowing more players to join!

Scottish Volleyball celebrates delivery of extensive, inspiring online content

March 23, 2020 is the official date when the UK government announced the beginning of the lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scottish Volleyball staff members had already begun working and started envisioning and planning what Volleyball was going to look like during and after the pandemic. As any other sport and any other federation, Scottish Volleyball began delivering more online content than it had ever done before, with the aspiration to keep delivering activities, even if differently than what people were used to.

Scottish Volleyball seized the opportunity and began to develop an ambitious three-month online learning programme. The SVA staff decided to present a month of content directly related to their respective job remits.

Education and Participation Officer Martyn Johnstone delivered the content for the first month with a focus on the wellbeing and protection of Scottish Volleyball members. Scottish Volleyball offered bespoke courses to players, staff and volunteers thanks to the help of Children’s First. These courses engaged as many as 89 members and they have ensured the participating clubs and organisations are prepared to meet the new standards for child protection and wellbeing in sport.

The second month, Regional Development Officers (RDOs) Lynne Beattie and Blair Pettigrew presented the online learning programme jointly, focussing on the development of clubs, from their legal status to the management of volunteers, together with the precious help of Active Advantage. The RDO sessions were smaller, more intimate groups designed specifically to get the correct blend of learning and discussion. This action had an impressive engagement across a wide range of clubs and a consistent number of attendees.

The third month was something very new for everyone in Scotland. It was dedicated to coaching, inside out. Scottish Volleyball envisioned a new programme, something new for Volleyball in the country, with the ambition to start anew and stimulating conversations to connect and share knowledge with other countries.

The scope increased as Andy Fleming, Scottish Volleyball Coaching and Clubs Officer, started shaping it. The aim was to bring new perspectives, new topics and new ideas from outside Scotland. Fleming set conversations that would explore themes such as coaching philosophy, relationships, technical and tactical, mental and physical. It also looked at planning and performance. The engagement took the Scottish Volleyball online sessions to new levels with the team transitioning from members-only Zoom webinars to the amazing Facebook live sessions streamed on YouTube and Twitter as well. The sessions truly took on a global feel and really connected the Volleyball community in Scotland and beyond.

Scottish Volleyball would like to thank everyone that has gotten involved in the coaching connections month, while looking forward to developing more of these occasions for the volleyball community! The reach of these sessions truly exceeded everyone’s expectations. Scottish Volleyball would love to thank renowned coaches Marco Mencarelli, Vincenzo Fanizza, Simon Loftus, Morph Bowes, Steve Florio, Celso Assumpção, Joel Banks, Erin Virtue, Tamari Miyashiro, Luka Slabe and Karch Kiraly and their respective federations.

CEV staff members help raise funds for Red Cross during coronavirus crisis

The Volleyball family stands out for its strong sense of solidarity and this feature has come to the fore during the toughest days and weeks of the coronavirus crisis and the resulting lockdown. A number of members of the staff working at the CEV headquarters in Luxembourg joined forces back in April to raise funds accounting for more than 1,300 € in favour of the Red Cross.

In his capacity as CEV staff representative, CEV Transfers and Legal Coordinator Apostolos Gogakos presented the donation to Mr Michel Simonis, General Director of the Red Cross Luxembourg, which run their nationwide fund-raising action every year during the month of April (see picture above).

“With your help, you have helped us support the most vulnerable members of our community, as they face the social and health consequences of the pandemic that has been affecting Luxembourg and the whole world,” wrote Mr Simonis in a letter addressed to the CEV staff.

Even a small act of solidarity can help the most disadvantaged people navigate these difficult times and cement the importance of a virtue – solidarity – that is so close to the heart of the Volleyball family.

Unscripted with… Marketa Slukova and Adrian Carambula

While national authorities are lifting the measures introduced to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and sport is slowly resuming in a number of countries, we have caught up with a couple of charismatic Beach Volleyball players, Czech star Marketa Slukova and Mr Skyball Adrian Carambula. Under ordinary circumstances, they would now be touring the world to finalise their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, but the pandemic has brought competitive sport to a halt. Still, they have plenty of positive energy and good vibes to share, while waiting for some sort of normality to come back soon.

Slukova spoke to us from Los Angeles, where she somehow got stuck at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, after travelling to California with her husband-coach Simon Nausch and teammate Barbora Hermmanova to prepare for the start of the 2020 season in Mexico. The coronavirus eventually disrupted all of her plans, with many World Tour events cancelled and the Tokyo Olympics postponed until the summer of 2021.

‘Maki’, nevertheless, remains positive, even though she admits she needed some time to adjust to the circumstances and re-arrange her plans. “My wish was to focus on the Olympic season and possibly take a medal in Tokyo before turning my attention to my next big goal, which is to start my own family,” she said. “However, even though it takes more than one full year until the Olympics, I have been able to regroup and for sure I am going to stay around at least until Tokyo 2021. After that, I will focus on starting a family and maybe come back to Beach Volleyball after that. We will see, since I am yet to make up my mind to that extent.”
A two-time Olympian, Slukova acknowledges that her success has helped raise the profile of Beach Volleyball in the Czech Republic to unprecedented heights and she sees herself as some sort of a role model, hoping to inspire the next generation of Czech Beach Volleyball players. She especially cherishes memories of a highly successful 2018 season, when she and partner Hermannova won a number of World Tour events, including a home event in Ostrava and the Vienna Major, plus a bronze medal at EuroBeachVolley to receive the CEV’s award for the ‘Queens of the Beach’ of that year.

Slukova is a true champion of positivity and good vibes. If you watch the full video, you will find out more about her striking personality on and off the court as well as about her love for South Africa, a destination that seems to attract many elite Beach Volleyball players – for the sake of training under ideal conditions but not only…
Adrian Carambula, aka Mr Skyball, spoke from Bern, Switzerland, where he has been staying with his girlfriend since returning from Australia. Born in Uruguay, Adrian moved to the USA by the time he was 13 and eventually transferred to Europe in early 2015. This is when, he admits, he began his real life as a professional athlete and he immediately achieved much success together with former partner Alex Ranghieri, winning silver at #EuroBeachVolley in Klagenfurt that same year before qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Now playing with Enrico Rossi and coached by the legendary Marco Solustri, Adrian is using this time of lockdown to reflect and review his evolution as a player throughout the years. He may surprise you when saying that he does not have any recollection as to how he came to use the skyball… Despite coming across as a fun type who received in 2019 the FIVB award for the ‘Most Entertaining Player’ on the World Tour, Adrian stresses that once he takes to the court, he fully focusses on the game and that he is working on adding more and more discipline to his routine.

A huge fan of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, Carambula looks forward to competition to resume soon. “I very much hope that we can have a good run of tournaments later this year and in 2021 and we can qualify for the Olympics because I am sure it would be pretty special to be able to compete in Tokyo!”

Volleyball Ireland hail progress and increased participation in their activities

Volleyball Ireland have published their first quarterly report of 2020, which shows a significant increase in registered junior players compared to the same period of last year.

As many as 227 under 18s have active player licenses compared with the end of March 2019, which is mainly due to the fantastic development work carried out in clubs across the country. The newly formed youth national leagues at U18 and U16 level for girls are driving participation as well.
Commenting on the data, General Manager Gary Stewart said, “The Q1 participation report shows that the investment in proper youth competitions is paying off. Not only that, there is clearly an improvement in the standard of youth players coming through which means that the average age of players in the adult national league competition is coming down. There are lots of elements that contribute to this, including quality school programmes, proactive clubs, a progressive youth national team programme and decent coach education courses and workshops.”

A chunk of the youth participation is related to a new Beginner Club Tour that the Volleyball Ireland Development team had planned for March in Limerick, which had almost 50 U13s registered. The week after, the first national boys’ competition also had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

With this in mind, Volleyball Ireland are hosting a webinar on youth section development this coming Thursday at 8pm (See

It will be interesting to see what impact the coronavirus situation will have on the figures this time next year, Gary added. “For obvious reasons, we have not opened the beach registration yet which is skewing figures slightly. Also it is worth noting that the number of licensed referees has reduced, so this is an area we need to address quickly and the team working with the Education & Training Commission are planning some new initiatives ahead of the new season.”

Away from the court, the marketing and promotion of Volleyball is improving with a 37% increase in digital followers, mainly driven through additional creative content and an increase in the streaming of various events.