I have been working as a coach for 7 years. I started when I enrolled in college at the age of 19 at DIF volleyball school run by professor Dr. Goran Nesic, who is professor of volleyball at Faculty of Sport and Physical Education at University of Belgrade. Cooperating with his teaching assistants Nikola Majstorovic and our celebrated volleyball player and Olympic medalist Vladimir Vanja Grbić, I learned a lot. After that, I worked at volleyball club Akademija Singidunum and as a coach of women’s volleyball team of Faculty of Sport and Physical Education. After that, I went to Romanian CSM Lugoj for one season and I am now in Slovenia at the volleyball club Logatec.
How has teaching the sport to children evolved over the years?
Everything is progressing in the 21st Century, science, technology, etc. It just seems to me that throughout this process we are starting to stagnate. Kids, because of TVs, computers, video games, miss that part of development through play and that makes our job a lot more difficult.
When they start playing sports, they come with poor motor skills (strength, speed, endurance, coordination, flexibility, precision and balance), poor concentration and attention, but also a sense of overcoming obstacles and competition.
This at first causes a child to give up and leave because it is difficult and if the coach fails to motivate the child and defeats the excuses ""I can't", "I don't know" or "I won't" there is an even bigger problem that can’t be seen. When our grandparents were young, they were much more skilled and physically prepared than their grandchildren today, which is not good. We now spend a lot of time perfecting these basic skills.
What age group do you teach or coach?
The 2019/2020 season is very specific, full of specific situations and surprises. Currently, at the club I work with all female selections from the youngest girls to the seniors.
How large are your class sizes?
My colleagues and I are trying to get the size of the group adjusted so that the child can move forward. In volleyball, the optimum number of players in training are 12 to 16, but of course, it happens to be a little smaller and a little higher depending on the moment.
Where do you feel that you lose the most focus in your classes?
Although we are doing great work and progress, problems are constantly occurring and it is mostly depending on age. As I said before, the biggest problem is when it comes to "I can't", "I don't know" or "I won't". Then we lose focus from a certain training task, because we have to react to make the player overcome it and learn what the right approach is. If we leave it for later, it will become an even bigger problem.
What’s the most important thing that you want readers to know about physical education or coaching?
The most important thing for everyone who works with children, it doesn't matter if they are professors or coaches, is that they don't forget that children must play. In the younger categories, the result should be one of the last goals we set. The most important thing is proper growth and development as well as sports education.
If a child wins everything they can in the younger categories, it does not mean that they will become a professional athlete or Olympic champion, and vice versa. It is all relative. In addition to athletes and coaches, it is very important for parents to understand this part.
How has the #stayathome movement impacted your life, workouts, and teaching?
As for my life, not much has changed. I work, improve, think about challenges in the future, but I also train. Since I live in Slovenia where motto is “FEEL GREEN” in an environment full of nature, I have the opportunity to find my peace away from the crowds and to do a good training with a girlfriend who is a swimming and handball coach.
When it comes to working with athletes, we are online every day. They have workouts that they have to do at home. They are active and I think they can't wait to get back on the court, especially since we are now waiting for beach volleyball.
What are you currently doing to help your students keep up with regular exercise?
We don't have many choices at the moment. My colleague Dr. Sasa Djuric, who I have been working with for many years, and, have sent our athletes a training program to work on during the quarantine. We are in contact and if necessary, we make certain changes depending on the player. Now we are left to trust them and hope that they will be at regular level of physical fitness at the end of this pandemic.
What is your biggest challenge when teaching volleyball? Do you see different challenges with beginners versus more experienced players?
The biggest challenge in working with athletes is to teach them that the limit is just the one they put in their minds, and that sports can help them overcome difficult situations later in life. The biggest difference between a beginner and an experienced athlete is that for an experienced athlete, the end is only when the referee plays the end. The real example of such a fighter is currently first tennis player in the world Novak Djokovic. When everyone else thinks it is over, he plays his best and win the game.
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