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Specialization in Volleyball

Matt-Anderson-skierSpecialization in Volleyball is a big topic. Hugh McCutcheon wants players that are good in all six skills, but great at one or two skills. Doug Beal stated, “Great specialization always equals greater success.” Kessel always wrote a piece “Specialization is for Insect“. Wired Magazine just came out with an article that touches on specialization of a skier:

In the past, Nyman chased new ideas, grasping for something that would stick: new ski designs, different cardio training approaches, regimented sleep patterns. It was the opposite of a clear, focused approach. With so many moving parts, it was impossible to see what was really working, and the mental burden was overwhelming. A session with his psychologist crystallized the problem for Nyman: “He said, ‘I want you to listen to music, watch TV, and read a book all at the same time and tell me what happened in all three,’ and it really clicked with me, made it all simpler.” It’s all about accepting that he can’t control everything or be the best at every aspect of skiing, and using data to find a few differentiating factors that are most likely to give him a competitive advantage. “He’s tried all kinds of different ideas, at many different times, but this process is working,” Rearick says. “The science has helped him see what’s important.”

I want to be great at all things to all people. I realize this is impossible. As Bill Cosby says, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”


  1. I wish that I was smart enough to be among the ranks of those that you have listed and cited in your blog. This is something that I have struggled with over many years, and I’ve followed the teachings of nearly everyone that you’ve cited and many more. Of course, as with everything, there are hundreds of differing opinions on every subject that is “volleyball”. To this end I will interject my, “No Child Left Behind” rant. While I whole heartedly understand educating all students in our Country to a satisfactory level of academic performance and standards, I argue that we are “dummy downing” our students that are proficient in a certain aspect of education but have the ability…but not the opportunity…to excel in another. If a kid is good in Science but struggles in Social Studies, I think we should do everything that we can in helping that student survive Social Studies and promote their advancement in Science. Admittedly, I am not highly educated in biomechanics and motor skill learning…maybe just above layman level, but it seems to me that I should build on the strengths of the athlete in my gym and promote her acceleration in that which she is talented and skilled—and that by trying to force her to be a 6 rotation player in college would be less productive. I’m not sure if that’s great thinking or not, and I’ve never been accused of being a volleyball genius…or a genius of any kind since I needed to spell check “genius”…but it just seems like a good idea to accentuate her strengths while still making sure that she gets a passing grade in Social Studies.

  2. So Kuuipo…

    Is it more important to train to the strengths of an individual player to best fit her needs or is it best to train to your strengths for the best of the team? You would hope these are both the same, but at times they might not be…

  3. Hi Chuck Rey,
    Thanks for sharing valuable information as well as link with us. I am getting huge interest from this details.

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