Becoming One of the Greats: Coach Ricardo Guimaraes

I have been coaching most of my life, professionally for the last 20 years! I started coaching while I was still in college, so I was about 19.

I started as the JV coach at my former High School, Hoover High. I also coached college camps during the summers while playing for University of Hawaii.


My Story

I began to coach in clubs and private beach sessions then more seriously after I stopped playing. 

coach Ricardo Guimaraes

During the year 2000, I was introduced to the European professional indoor clubs, first at Minetti Vicenza Volleyball Club as First Assistant Coach, under the great Atanas Malinov.

He had won it all at the D1 Italian league before I arrived.  Therefore, I felt that my learning curve was strictly vertical as I got to coach amazing international players and we won the Copa CEV that season. 

After that successful year I ended up in Gran Canaria, Spain and soon after that to the beautiful island of Tenerife for 7 seasons.  As the Head Coach of the youth program for Club Voleibol Tenerife, I guided the volleyball players to the club’s first and only Spanish Division 1 (Primera Division Feminina) National Title in 2004/2005. 

“Work on your mental game!”
Coach Ricardo Guimaraes

In the summer of 2005 I was invited to be part of the Netherlands Olympic Qualifier Team to compete at the “World Grand Prix”, which we placed 6th in the world, under the great Head Coach of the Netherlands National Women’s Team “Coach Avital Selinger,” son of the legendary Ari Selinger (Former USA coach in the 70’s). 

After working under Selinger as first assistant and team manager in 2007 I went back to Holland to help develop players for The Netherlands Women’s Team.  As the Head Coach of the Dutch National B team during the 2007/08 season DELA Martines Volleyball Club became National Dutch Champions.


Soon after that I was back at home and was hired to be part of the USA Beach Program under the late and great David Williams back in 2010.  I started as USA Beach Volleyball High Performance Head Coach/Recruiter/Evaluator and my responsibilities were training and evaluating national tryouts and camps from ages of 15 through 26 all over the states.

“The more you plan the better you will be.”  
Coach Ricardo Guimaraes

I also coached and ranked individual athletes for each specific National Volleyball Programs. In 2013, I was the Head Coach of the USA National Training Team (Men & Women) U19/U26.  This was the non-travel A1 USA Team of every age group which would compete at the World Championships in Hermosa Beach. 

In 2014 I was Girls National Assistant Coach U17 A1. That summer my athletes managed to conquer Gold, Silver and Bronze at the High-Performance Championships in Hermosa Beach.

Additionally, in July of 2014, I was part of the USA National Team at the FIVB World Championships in Acapulco, Mexico, which our Women’s Team won Gold and Silver medals. 

Ricardo Guimaraes USA National Team at the FIVB World Championships in Acapulco, Mexico, which our Women’s Team won Gold and Silver medals.

In 2015 they moved me to Head the Boy’s Program A1 U17. That summer my boys earned Gold and Bronze at the International High-Performance Championship in Hermosa Beach. Since then it has been 4 consecutive years of almost the same performance.  

The Gold medal has been a constant throughout my USA career. Tweet this

In 2016, I was the Men's National Head Coach and Women's National Assistant under the age group of 23.  This time it was my responsibility to coach and train Team USA for the World University Games in Parnu, Estonia which would compete in July of 2016.  Our women conquered Gold and Silver again and the men placed 13th and 23rd

coach and train Team USA for the World University Games in Parnu, Estonia

In 2018, I was the Head Coach for yet another USA team to compete in the World University Games in Munich, Germany.  There, our 2 USA Women’s Team managed podium (3rd) and a respectable 5th, while the boys took a 9th and 23rd.

Ricardo Guimaraes - Head Coach for USA team to compete in the World University Games in Munich, Germany

While coaching Team USA I also coached the collegiate level since 2015. As the First Assistant Coach, I worked for two distinguished NCAA division I schools.  In 2015/6 while at Stetson University, I have helped the Hatters develop a winning culture on the indoor and at the beach.  The Hatters Beach reached the inaugural NCAA Beach Championship with a winning record of 28-9, finishing 8th in the nation.


In 2016/2017, I moved to Florida International University, in Miami, and helped placed the Panthers into the CCSA Championship Finals. In 2017/8, FIU Beach earn its first-ever NCAA Championship Finals Bid with a total record of 23-10 losing for UCLA for 5th place. I am presently coaching at my Carioca Volleyball Club, www.cariocavc.com in Florida and California.

I think the sport has evolved in various ways over the years. Talking strictly managing and structuring the many different training strategies and dynamic sessions I would say that the main difference to this game is that, now more than ever, the game of Beach Volleyball must be played at the highest psychological level. 

Since every ball counts for a point, the game has shortened in time. Compared to when I played the scoring has changed. Now that “Rally Scoring” is the norm, instead of the old “Sideout”, which some matches would last over an hour long, the main emphasis of training should more mental instead of physical.  More technical and tactical then momentum and emotional.

...now more than ever, the game of Beach Volleyball must be played at the highest psychological level  Coach Ricardo Guimaraes Tweet this

 

Most recently for Team USA I was the Head Coach for under 17 years of age for boys since 2014. At my club I usually coached the older groups, but I love coaching the youth as well. I also coached the professional athletes at the professional leagues around the world. Depending on the demand and my location.  I have no problem teaching any athlete who is committed to the sport.  I would not coach a group bigger than 8 athletes on a single court though.

I’ve learned and used different tactics over the years in an effort to keep my athletes engaged. Not every drill fits all the group of athletes who I work with.  It is important to be able to distinguish the different skill levels and apply the right amount of information. Often different vocabulary is used for higher skilled level players.

Coaching is easier said than done. A lot of people who play Volleyball think they can also coach.  Unfortunately, it is not always the case.

Once I stopped playing professionally, I felt I had to go back and relearn everything I knew in order to teach the skills correctly.

Being able to communicate correctly at the right time takes lots of experience and always learning. No one knows it all.  Working hard and acquiring the right techniques to better yourself and be the best coach you can be.

Coaching is easier said than done. A lot of people who play Volleyball think they can also coach.  Unfortunately, it is not always the case. Coach Ricardo Guimaraes Tweet this

#StayatHome 

This has been a great time to take a longer preseason workout approach.  Today, there are no excuses for any athlete to be out of shape at the start of their seasons.  If anything, this longer off/pre-season should be one of gaining power and agility and most importantly, to plan ahead!

Going back to beach volleyball, since we are a one-man operation kind of business, meaning the players are not only the product but also the entire service like any business structure. Players have to plan, develop, orchestrate, supervise, sale, schedule, play CFO, CEO, and perform at high quality control level in order to be successful.  Yes, there is a lot of natural pressure which means, work at it!

I like to compare players in general from different sports, and the more I do the more I am convinced about how similar some qualities and demeanor of the top players are.

When you watch the great professional athletes, they all have a few things in common: Besides the obvious ones like the natural ability to perform a difficult skill without much effort and their technical and tactical skill set, if we really look at them in times of import decisions, all of them perform at their highest levels when it counts. 

They are not a bit nervous, angry, or edgy at all.  In fact, their expressions are the same ones from beginning to the end. They are at their most relaxed state. That, my friend is greatness!  For example, watching Roger Federer, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Karch Kiraly, all perform at their best at crucial times requires mastering the sport.  That’s what I am talking about.


That requires so much training especially, mental training. Like in our sport. Especially the beach game. For a player to fully attack a ball, this athlete must first understand that if there are at their most relax state while performing the approach to attack the ball and it should be much easier.

I say, “Go ahead, try it!” Think about your full motion of attack but concentrate on coming in fully relax.  Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and your arms are fully extended. Now accelerate, and jump! 

If you didn’t feel it hence, go back to your footwork and arm swing technique. Adjustments are part of the game.


If we consider this #stayathome time period as a longer preseason, then it would make sense to work harder on weights/power. But it really matters where an athlete is at in this moment, and where the athlete wants to go. For example, what are you training for? When is the competition? etc.

Some of my athletes are getting ready for college, some are getting ready for the pro leagues, and some are just training to either become better or just for the sport. Wherever you are at, it’s important to keep in mind where you want to go. No matter what, keep on training!

 

I usually divide them in groups: Pre-Season, Season, Post-Season and Off-Season (break). I think of, Physical and Technical trainings during the Pre-season, Tactical and Psychological trainings during Season and back to Technical again at Post-Season.  Remember to take a break after the season!



Challenges

The challenges in coaching are numerous. Unfortunately, volleyball did not break through to the sports mainstream as a normal developing sport would.  Even after great international success, beach volleyball also failed to break through even after being introduced and loved at the Olympics in 1994.  There are many reasons it didn’t happen, but that is a different story and one I prefer not to discuss at this time. 

The important part is to be aware of the many difficulties a Volleyball player must go through in their careers.  The Volleyball game is a great sport.  There are many players and fans of the sport.  However, the sport never had a “David Stern” on our side to help develop the sport the right way. 

Therefore, since there are no professional indoor leagues in the United States and an amateur non-existing 7 stops (AVP) tour, it does not make sense to become a professional volleyball player at this point in time. I encourage players to stick to the enjoyment of the game which is great at any level.  

Scholastic scholarships have also made a huge impact on the development of the sport, beach side. Unfortunately, just for the girls, since the NCAA will never be open to a boy’s program since article IX plays a big factor.

The solution to most problems, small and big is an easy one - FOCUS AND WIN!

 

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