CROSSNET got a chance to catch up with Coach Jason Skoch, Head Coach at Saint Leo University for a little Q&A. He has been coaching volleyball for the last seventeen years. Jason has learned a lot over the years and we were able to learn a lot from him.
CROSSNET: What age group do you coach?
Coach Jason: College. A good size number of us also coach youth.
CROSSNET: How has teaching the sport evolved over the years?
Coach Jason: Yes. We have more players come in unrefined for whatever reason. Players are very one-dimensional as well. For example, there are OH's that can pound the ball on the left but struggle hitting on the RS to a remotely decent level. The irony is they play year-round and don't do as many other sports due to this. For example: you used to be able to teach the slide approach by telling kids, "it is just like a layup in BB" or "think of doing the long jump in track". That is not as helpful as it used to be b/c more players are coming in without having done anything that requires single-leg action. Also, there are more players that are very talented and could play in college, but choose not to. I attribute some of this to burnout. We have a conundrum.
With younger kids, we play small games and small situations of the bigger game. The players do every position when possible. I will find 2-4 players that have decent hands and they will set at the early stages of practice. This makes the hitters focus so much more b/c they don't know what type of set they will get. As we near the 2nd half of practice then we move to our positions.
CROSSNET: What’s the most important thing that you want readers to know about physical education or coaching?
Coach Jason: As far as physical education, when they are young let them explore and learn more about how to use their body. Jack of all trades, master of none! If they are particular about a sport they will get their specialization eventually.
As far as coaching, remember everyone has different reasons and motivations for being on that team. Hold a standard and try to find players that have the same motivations as you.
CROSSNET: How has the #stayathome movement impacted your life, workouts, and teaching?
Coach Jason: I like it because I am pretty self-motivated. You will find out what type of athletes you have. They have to be mature, accountable, and self-driven. We are working with them to give them information but they don't have an organized practice to force them to do it. This has been a great 'grow up' opportunity.
CROSSNET: What are you currently doing to help your athletes keep up with regular exercise?
Coach Jason: They have a program. We have leadership groups. My assistant is doing leadership training with digital media.
CROSSNET: What is your biggest challenge when teaching volleyball? Do you see different challenges with beginners versus more experienced players?
Coach Jason: In college, how do you train an athlete who is naturally talented, physically gifted and got away with things at the HS/club level? but, their mechanical hiccups hurt them in the college game. They need quality and quantity reps to change their game. That is a challenge when they have 4 years left of their career. They have to see how much better they could be to be willing to go through the grind.
CROSSNET: What would be your dream solution for the main issue in your sport?
Coach Jason: Great question! Multi-sport athletes, less coaching at times to let them figure things out and then having the athletes learn how to catalog their changes and progress. When they do get coached, coach core mechanics and then let them compete.
We hope that you were able to take from Coach Jason what we did - the importance of natural progression, hard-work, and skill-based coaching.