My name is Kyle Breitbath and I’ve been coaching for a total of 7 years now. While I was still playing in college, I coached High School, Middle School and Club volleyball in Champaign, IL. That’s where I fell in love with the sport and coaching in general.
After getting my master’s degree, I was a volunteer assistant at Loyola University Chicago for one season. I was hired by Arizona State and coached there from 2017-18. After leaving ASU, I went to Kansas State for a couple weeks during the spring of 2019 before I was re-hired at Arizona State, where I currently am coaching Women’s Division 1 volleyball. I also coached the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Men's Volleyball Team at Nationals in 2019 where we finished as the #2 team in the country, falling in the National Championship.
CROSSNET: How many people do you coach on a regular basis?
Coach Kyle: Our roster last year was around 18 girls. I have been responsible for specifically coaching the defensive unit including the liberos for the last couple years. During the 2019 season, we had 6 liberos/defensive specialists at Arizona State. So, there is still a team aspect to the whole thing, but throughout the week, I would watch film with the defensive players and provide feedback for them.
CROSSNET: What are some other things you do outside of the court for Arizona State Volleyball ?
Coach Kyle: I love being busy. I like being involved in as many parts of the program as I can be. There’s the obvious on the court stuff with practices and matches but on top of that I’ve been able to help run the Summer Camps for the last couple years at Arizona State. I’ve also had the privilege to actually teach a fall semester class to college coaches from China for the last 2 years.
The class involved teaching them our volleyball system on the court and off the court stuff such as RPI, how conferences work and are aligned, compliance, recruiting timeline for a student-athlete, etc. That has been an awesome experience as well. Being a big statistics guy as well, I’ve helped create some “worksheets” we call them in Data Volley that help us dissect the numbers for every practice/match.
CROSSNET: Where do you feel that you lose the most focus in your sessions?
Coach Kyle: I would say that I lose most focus in a session would probably be when we are having a really poor practice. We’re very statistically driven at ASU and we have live stats at every practice so we know when we’re having a good/mediocre/bad day according to our standards.
I think when we are having one of “those days”, it’s sometimes hard to look at the big picture of things and focus on anything positive. That’s when the brain tends to turn negative and it’s tough to get out of that hole.
CROSSNET: What’s the most important thing that you want readers to know about volleyball coaching?
Coach Kyle: I want them to know that it’s more than just the rotations and the on the court stuff. And that’s why I wanted to make this a career move with coaching college volleyball. I noticed that when I was coaching middle school volleyball, that I was able to make a difference in my athlete’s lives. But with that power also comes responsibility.
I enjoy the on the court stuff too, don’t get me wrong. But there’s so much more to a volleyball “program” than just what comes on the court and the work that goes into it.
I remember when my dad came out to visit me in Tempe, and we had a game at 7 pm on a Friday night. When I told him I needed to be at the school at 10 am and would then be there for the rest of the day, he was shocked. Being involved in the community is something that is a great part of coaching volleyball.
From doing summer camps, when you get to see some of the same kids, and they remember you like the last camp was yesterday, it’s awesome, and they all come to our games and just love it. We deliver season tickets to some of our ticket holders as well, and they love seeing the team, and you can tell that those moments make their day.
CROSSNET: How has the #stayathome movement impacted your life, workouts, and coaching?
Coach Kyle: I’m an avid gym goer. I’m usually in the gym whether it be at ASU or where I live at least 5 days a week. So that part was tough getting used to. I’ve been doing a lot of interval training workouts in my basement. I’m anxious for things to get back to normal but understand that we need to let this thing pass over and not rush back. We were in the middle of our spring season when this all hit, so it’s definitely taken us out of our element as coaches as we’re used to being in the gym/office all week.
CROSSNET: Do you see different challenges with beginners versus more experienced players?
Coach Kyle: I’ve loved coaching both levels. When I was coaching 7th grade volleyball, the second week after we went through all the fundamentals, was “Kyle’s Classroom.” We would go over rotations, which were always a ton of fun to go through with those kids.
I would print out each rotation with their position highlighted (where they had to start in serve or receive and their base defensive position). We did that for a couple of days before winter break, and that was kind of like their homework.
So, that is a challenge for sure with beginners rather than experienced. But that makes it even better when they figure it out. And I think at the end of the day, that’s why I coach. Whether it’s a 12 year-old trying to figure out how to take a proper approach or a D1 Libero getting the angle down on her serve receive, it’s the same look of accomplishment on their faces that makes everything worth it as a coach no matter how long it took.
Some of the challenges when you get to the college game can be things like time management when they get to college as a freshman. It’s a whole new thing for them, and for us, we practice for 2 weeks before school starts so they get used to just practicing and working out. Then, you throw 15 credit hours in the mix, and it can complicate the situation.
CROSSNET: What would be your dream solution for that biggest challenge when coaching volleyball?
Coach Kyle: I don’t know if I would necessarily want a solution. I think one of the things that helps me as a coach is that I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder. That started as a player in high school and college and definitely translated to my coaching. I enjoy the challenge and want the challenge.
I want the pressure that comes with coaching and winning. In my first interview for the high school coaching gig, I remember the AD asking me if I hated to lose or loved to win. I stated immediately that I hated to lose, and I was offered the job. One of my responsibilities at ASU is scouting reports, and I love watching hours of film trying to find any advantage that we can to try to win that match.
The challenge is what keeps me going. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Volunteer Assistant Volleyball Coach