Since I last wrote a lot has happen in volleyball both for me and for Australia.

On the beach side of things Cedric and I had another successful season together, being the top placed Victorian team at the Victorian Open and winning the Victorian Championships, beating the number 1 ranked team in Australia to do so. This season was the final one for Cedric and I as a permanent pair with me concentrating more on my coaching and Cedric looking to travel with volleyball in the coming year. Personally I finished first on the Victorian Tour rankings winning five of the eight events and coming second in two.

At St Michaels the girls have had the first term of their sport and we are on top of the ladder in year 7, 8 and 9 with the Open age not starting until 4th term. Terms 2 and 3 are boy’s volleyball and the boys started pre season about 3 weeks ago with some good turn outs.

Over at Billanook College we won the Victorian Schools Beach Cup again, I’m told 5 or 6 years in a row now, great effort boys, but the big one is in December this year where we are working to win the National Schools Cup after last year disappointing 3rd place.

GMVA is going great so far this cycle, with a new arm coming in, GMVA Pro. GMVA Pro is for athletes in year 12 to 2nd year University who have the goal of going further with their volleyball. We are looking to play in all the Victorian Regional series tournaments for 2011, however we have only playing in 1 of the 3 so far due to other commitments. We did win it though, the Geelong Open. The regular GMVA is going well with some high quality coaches coming on board this year, we have our first foreign coach, Nathan Wang from the USA is working with the boys program at the moment.

In the Victorian State League this year I have am coaching Monash University who came 2nd in 2010 to the team I was coaching then, Heidelberg. So we have the challenge of reversing the results from 2010, something I have little doubt we can do given the work the boys put in each week at training.

 

The year of coaching is pretty much done, and I have to say it was one of the most challenging, exciting, rewarding and enjoyable years I’ve had in volleyball. Being able to coach so many kids around Victoria at so many different levels has been such a thrill. For the most part it was a very successful year for the majority of teams that I coached.

Since my last post the Girls season at St Michaels has finished and we made the grand finals in five or the six competitions we were in, 7A, 7B, 8A, 9A and 9B, winning every final we played in for five championships! The Open girls (year 10-12) have started their season and will finish it in first term next year. We have had a tough start to the season but with some more training I’m confident we will improve rapidly.

At Billanook College we played in the Open Boys Honours Division at the National Schools Cup in Melbourne in December. We had been training once a week since Victorian Schools Cup for this event. Like all teams our preparation was interrupted by exams and schoolies week but we went to the event feeling good about our chances. Unfortunately though, we never really hit our straps throughout the week. At times we played some very good volleyball, but couldn’t put many matches together at a good level. While we finished a solid 3rd place in Australia there was a lot of disappointment amongst our team, something that I really hope will drive us to get better for another run at the championship next year.

The under 17 boys at Billanook were another story though. We did our preparation together every week from July and they really carried that through to Nationals and won gold after dropping their first 2 games of the event. Winning every game after the first 2 was a great effort and something we can be very proud of.

During the holidays I am coaching a number of teams for the National Junior Beach Volleyball Championships that are held in Perth in early January 2011. I’m pretty confident that they will be bringing home a number of medals. Go VICS!

 

On the beach, the 2010-11 season has started and is 3 events in. I played the first 2 events with Cedric for one first and one second place, then one event with Chris Burns where we came second.

 
Since my last post a lot has happened. The experience of being the Program Coach for the Victorian State Teams was something that I treasure. Being welcomed into the teams the way I was by players and coaches was exactly what I was after. Not only was I able to give little suggestions here and there to coaches and players but I was able to learn a lot from the coaches about how they prepare their players and why they do the things they do. These kinds of experiences were invaluable to me continuing to develop and understand the type and style of coach I want to become.

 

On the State League side of things, last entry we were having a bad trot at Heidelberg being 3 and 3 at the half way point of the season. Well the next week this went to 3 wins and 4 losses with a five set loss to Southern Cross and we were sitting 3rd from the bottom I think. After that game we had a meeting and everyone had a chance to speak their mind, I really feel this was a catalyst for the form reversal that was about to happen. Aside from our talk we also decided to increase our training load in the run up to the finals, we went to Monday, Thursday and Friday night training with the game on Saturday afternoon. For the rest of the season we focused so strongly on our style of play, playing together as a tight unit and most importantly working really hard on the court. I have no doubt we play our best volleyball when we are feeling the stress of the game.

The next week we beat an under strength Falcons team 3-0 which started our run of being undefeated for the rest of the season and winning eight games consecutively including the top two teams twice each including finals. I feel so happy for the players for getting such an amazing comeback result from where we were. The comeback in the first final 0-2 down and five points down in the 3rd set was a testament to the belief the players have in each other and our system.

Well done boys you all deserve it and I hope the horrible fitness work I put you guys through not only throughout preseason but right up to the finals now feels totally worth it.

 

At St Michaels we took a good step forward in the volleyball program getting the year 8, year 9 and Open Boys (year 10-12) 1st and 3rd teams in the grand final. Unfortunately we only came away with 1 win from our finals but that was the Open boys 1st team beating Westbourne Grammar in five close sets. What made the win even more special was that during the season we played them twice and lost both times, 2-3 and 0-3. The 1st boys opted for a similar approach to what we did at Heidelberg, they requested more training to the Master of Sport so we started training Monday, playing Wednesday and training Thursday. From the start of the season to the end the boys totally changed their game, we worked very hard on positive speak and how we relate to each other on court. This really brought the boys together not only on court but off it.

In terms four and one it is girls’ volleyball at St Michaels and I hope we can have even better success with the girls program

 

I also took on the job of coaching the Billanook Open Boys Honours team at Victorian Schools Cup in August. While we only had a limited preparation for the event we did manage to go through undefeated and take out the Championship in a very close five set match with Eltham High School. Now we are looking towards National School Cup in December with the aim of winning that also. Unfortunately I only train the whole group once a week on Friday after school but the application and dedication from the boys is very impressive for a bunch of school kids.

 

With all the teams I have been coaching I have used a similar team idea. We talk about how we can relate positively to each other on court, look each other in the eye and expect others to do a great job. I am beginning believe it is not making errors that will lose a game of volleyball for a team, it’s how we react to those errors that really counts and that will eventually begin to decrease the amounts of errors made itself.
 
Well it’s now winter and the year seems to be flying by. The beach season is well and truly over and now it’s indoor season in Victoria. On the beach Cedric and I finished first on the Victorian Tour and 3rd in our only National Tour event we entered, so all in all we were very pleased with our first season together as a new partnership. From the Vic Tour we managed to take out all the awards, well Cedric took all bar the one he left for me, the best blocker!

To the now, it’s indoor time and I am coaching the Heidelberg Men’s Honours Team in the Victorian State League, the champions from last year. This season we have lost five players from the champion team but I still think we will pull together in the second half of the season to give it a good shake. Currently we are sitting at 3 wins and 3 losses at the half way point. Coaching a team in the State League is a great experience for me as I’m trying to impart my beliefs and games idea onto their already successful playing style, and slowly we are getting there as a unit.

Aside from Heidelberg I’m coaching 4 days a week at St Michaels Grammar on Chapel St in inner city Melbourne. There I coach teams from year 7 through to year 12 in the ACS competition. I can very proudly say we are leading the year 9 and open (10-12) divisions and are coming a close 2nd in the year 8s. The fantastic thing about the ACS competition is that volleyball is year round with boys playing volleyball in terms 2 and 3, while the girls play in terms 1 and 4, meaning I get full involvement in both genders.

As of about two months ago I am also the Program Coach for the Victorian State Teams that are heading away to National Championships in Perth in the coming school holidays. I am very excited about this position as I will get to travel with the teams and see many of the players I coach at GMVA in action over the week and hopefully be involved in some gold medal success.

Outside coaching I am also working at my local gym, BustaMove in Black Rock as a personal trainer which has been a lot of fun. Meeting many great local people and being able to be involved in them achieving their health and fitness goals has been very rewarding.

Personally I’m still training at Integrate Personal Training on a weekly basis over the winter and are about to start pre season with Cedric for the upcoming summer where we hope to build on our successful first season together.
 
On Monday last week I took over the Greater Melbourne Volleyball Academy (GMVA). My position is the Coaching Director so I will oversee both the boys and the girls’ squad, while having greater hands on coaching role with the boys’ squad.

This is a fantastic opportunity for me to begin to give back to the Victorian Volleyball community that has supported me so well over the past 15 years during my career. I look forward to working closely with all the athletes and sharing with them my experiences of playing for the Australian National Team at the 2004 Olympic Games and playing professional volleyball throughout Europe and the Middle East.

I feel my experiences of playing volleyball at the highest level will stands me in good stead to pass on my knowledge of the game both technically and tactically to these young players and hopefully give them the opportunity to achieve what I have during my career.
 
The last 6 weeks have been a very exciting time for me. I have found a permanent partner for the Australian Summer and hopefully beyond which is an important milestone for me. Cedric and I have recently played in the 1st event on the Victorian Regional Series in Bendigo where we came 3rd, which was a very satisfying result for us given our limited preparation together. We started on Friday in the qualification event and made it through in 3 tough sets, shaking off some rust. Then each game throughout the tournament on Saturday and Sunday we played better and better.

On the coaching front I have a great group of athletes that are playing in the Wednesday Indoor Scrimmage Sessions, where we meet for a 3 hour videoed training and play in various competitive situations. After the session I watch the training and give everyone personal feedback on what to work on for future trainings. Then on the beach I’m coaching a number of teams that will be competing in the Australian Junior Championships in Adelaide during January. I’m also running a number or 1 on 1 trainings for various athletes, both indoor and beach volleyball.

Anyone wishing to join any of these trainings can contact me through my website on the contacts page, click here.
 
New video has been uploaded for download, Australia vs Korea, a good win for us Aussies!
 
Check out the new videos online ready for free download by anyone and ev
 
On the weekend I played in the Season Opener of the VicBeach Tour at South Melbourne Beach. It was a crazy day with wild wind throughout, serves going everywhere! But even with the weather it's still so good to see all the players out there having so much fun in the cold. This was my 1st event with Cedric and we managed to get a 2nd to Owen and Damo after just getting across the line against Greg the master server.
 
After six months on the beach with the National Program, I, along with the coaches have decided to call an end to my time in Adelaide. My time with the team has been a fantastic experience for me, both on and off the court. While I am very sad to finish the experience I am sure my time around volleyball be it beach or indoor, playing or coaching is far from over.

During my time on the beach I met some amazing people I know consider close friends, whom I sure I will be in contact with for many years to come and hope to enjoy their success with them. I was welcomed in the environment in Adelaide with open arms by players and staff alike which makes leaving all the more difficult. Being in the program give me the opportunity to compete in five Swatch FIVB World Tour events this season which is something I will never forget.

I leave with the absolute belief that beach volleyball in Australia is in good hands and that the athletes playing have the chance for limitless success on the World stage. The effort put in here in Adelaide and while away touring is first class and will reap great benefits in the future. I wish the whole program the best heading towards London and beyond.

The highlight of my time on the beach was by far and away seeing Bawden/Palmer get a 2nd place in the World Tour event in Stare Jablonki, Poland. The way they played in their new partnership was a thrill to see live.

Next week I will head back to Melbourne to make some decisions about what the future may hold for me. One thing I’m really looking forward to is getting back into the coaching I was doing around Victoria, to help the next generation achieve their goals in volleyball.