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USA Volleyball’s Success is Open Source

Doug Beal, Marv Dunphy, Carl McGown, Hugh McCutcheon 2008 OlympicsToday, I listened to an audio recording of USA Volleyball’s Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon’s Q & A presentation at last December’s AVCA Convention in Kansas City.  A question raised to Hugh was, “How does the world perceive the success of USA Volleyball when it does not have a professional league?”.  Hugh’s response was based on the United States’ culture of “fighting until the end”, competitive advantages, and coaching methodologies.  Of which I agree, but these are small pieces of a larger puzzle.  An Open Source puzzle.

I am reading a book on motivation called Drive by Daniel H. Pink.  The author describes motivation in two ways: Extrinsic and Intrinsic.  Extrinsic motivation is derived from external forces (reward or penalty) to complete a task.  We work, we get paid.  The fundamental culture of the United States has been based on an extrinsically motivated society.  Intrinsic motivation comes from the pure enjoyment, challenge and passion towards a task.  Purely successful parts of our society are intrinsically based.

Example:  The task of creating the world’s online encyclopedia was undertaken by one of the wealthiest corporations with the highest paid programmers, Microsoft (extrinsic), versus a non-profit “Open Source” organization with a bunch of volunteer programmers, Wikipedia (intrinsic).  Who wins?  Have you heard of Microsoft’s Encarta lately?  You could be one of the 200 million people reading this blog on Firefox, an “Open Source” web-browser developed by volunteers.  Your computer network at work is possibly running on Linux, an “Open Source” software running on one in four corporate servers world-wide, or likely on Apache an “Open Source “Web-based software solution that is on over 50% of corporate servers.  Our culture is moving towards an intrinsic based, open source society.  USA Volleyball is already there.

Open Source is a free sharing of ideas.  Wikipedia describes an “Open Source” culture as the creative practice of appropriation and free sharing of created content.  This is exactly what volleyball in the United States has evolved into naturally: a culture as the creative practice of appropriation and free sharing of ideas.  Without a professional league as an external motivator, the culture of USA Volleyball has inevitably become intrinsically motivated to achieve.  The history of USA Volleyball, especially on the men’s side, is this culture.  Jim Coleman, Doug Beal, Marv Dunphy, Carl McGown, Bill Neville, to Hugh McCutcheon have all openly and unselfishly exchanged ideas for the benefit of the good.  When the AVP was in existence, maybe the Top 10 players were able to sustain a living on volleyball alone.  The hundreds of thousands of beach players across the country are a great example of this “free-will” culture.

John Kessel is the epitome of Open Source.  Check out his blog http://usavolleyball.org/blogs/growing-the-game-together-s-blog and look under the “Grassroots” category too.  The amount of information available is overflowing.  All in the name of volleyball, “Growing the Game Together”.

When I speak of USA Volleyball, I am not only speaking of the USA Volleyball organization.  Check out what the AVCA has to offer at the Convention.  Granted there is an entry fee, but the great coaches presenting their ideas and “secrets” are presenting on a volunteer basis.  At one time or another, I have emailed great coaches and they are always open to providing feedback and an open exchange of ideas.  At the last AVCA Convention, Executive Director, Kathy DeBoer, asked members from the audience to stand up that were involved in AVCA committees.  About a third of the audience stood up.  All participants in AVCA committees are volunteers.

At the end of Hugh McCutcheon’s presentation he invited everyone to come to his gym where he always holds open practices to explore and exchange ideas.  Most collegiate team practices are open to the public.  Ex-Ohio State Head Coach, Jim Stone and his for-profit Volleyball Training Solutions is proof that collegiate and club gyms are willing to freely exchange their ideas (these colleges and clubs are not getting kickbacks for allowing Jim to film training sessions).

Not to toot my own horn, but I am one of those volunteer “programmers” disseminating volleyball information through my blog to help expand the game’s reach.  I’m not alone.  Check out Texas Tech Professor Alan Reifman’s blog: VolleyMetrics; Jimmy Peden, USA Volleyball Palmetto Region Commissioner has voluntarily posted a slew of teaching videos on Kudda, and there are hundreds of volleyball association websites that have loads of great content.

As much as we may want a professional league in the United States, without one, it has accidentally forced an intrinsic, open source culture upon United States Volleyball that has made us purely successful.  There are no ulterior motives, but the pure enjoyment, challenge, and passion to play this great game.

9 comments

  1. Very well written, great perspective. You have an amazing blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. My favorite blog post thus far is an animated video called “Volleyball Parent Meeting” 😉

  3. Both of you are great! =)
    Nice and inspiring sharing coach Chuck!

  4. I love this post! Thank you.

  5. Nice blog! best blog so far!! keep it up!

  6. where can I find a clip of the McCutcheon interview you spoke of?

  7. On the AVCA.org website. If you are a member of the AVCA, you can access it through on the past convention page.

  8. I went to a coaching clinic at Pepperdine and of course Marv Dunphy was the featured speaker. He let us coaches know that his practices were always open to us. He even took us to his office and showed us his file cabinets. He told us we were always welcome to visit him in his office and we had access to all of his files of information – amazing!

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