Few people know volleyball as well as Terry Liskevych. A coaching veteran since the early 1970’s, Liskevych led the U.S. women’s national team for 12 years, garnered dozens of national awards at the college level and co-founded the Art of Coaching video series and website.
A lot has changed since Liskevych began patrolling the sidelines, but there’s been one constant—his devotion to video. He remembers rolling out massive tube monitors onto the practice court and rotating film reels to provide instant feedback to players.
Fortunately, sharing video is much easier today. Now all coaches need is an iPad or laptop to share insights with their athletes.
“It’s a great way to look at your team’s performance in a practice setting post-practice or in a match post-match,” Liskevych said. “Video does not lie. A player may ask, ‘Where was my arm in my swing?’ or ‘Where was I on the court in a defensive positioning?’. The video is going to show that. It really gives you the power of seeing what is happening on the court in practice or matches.”
“A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a million.”
Video helps volleyball coaches in dozens of ways, but Liskevych identified two that truly stand out.
Pump Up Your Players
Most coaches recognize video as a corrective tool, and it certainly helps players improve. But Liskevych emphasizes coaches should also capitalize on its ability to praise players for what they’ve done well.
“The key to being a great athlete is to do it consistently all the time,” Liskevych said. “If you’ve done it once, you can always do it. That’s the powerful image that’s imprinted as a visualization. You’re seeing yourself perform correctly. Utilize video to catch them doing good, and to me, that’s as powerful a tool as anything. Let’s turn it into a positive. All of us as coaches focus more on the negative than we should.”
Liskevych saves good moments for each player throughout the first few months of the season, then puts them together into a two-minute motivational clip with background music to share with the team. Not only does this fuel his players with confidence, but it also helps him build rapport with his athletes.
“More positive vibes,” he said. “I would say, ‘Look, there’s another way to coach. Don’t scream at me. I know I made a mistake, so let’s find a way to correct it.’ Positive corrective feedback, especially when linked to video as a visual tool, which is how most people learn, that means you can always do it.”
Use It in Practice
Recording matches is extremely important, but Liskevych contends having a bank of practice video might be even more valuable. There’s no time during a match to pull a player aside and correct a mistake. In practice, players have the ability to rewatch every motion and see what they’re doing right and wrong.
“It’s so powerful to correct in real time,” Liskevych said. “It’s not that I film practice and then we watch it after. We put you on a continuous loop so you hit a ball, then you can watch yourself and hit another ball. You can see improvements just by watching yourself perform that. To show people immediate feedback in practice is critical.”
Liskevych shows video to players during practice and also sends them clips afterward for individual review. Watching themselves allows players to see exactly what their coach is talking about and make adjustments more quickly.
“If I’m going to learn to prepare in scouting opponents, it’s important to first scout your own team,” Liskevych said. “I want to know what my team can do and not do. The majority of matches that are won and lost has nothing to do with the opponent. Usually the reduction of errors is going to keep you in the game a long time. How do you get to really looking at yourself and saying, ‘How am I going to get better as a team or an individual?’ That can be so much more important than scouting an opponent.”
We paired with Art of Coaching to create a new eBook that dives even deeper into how to level up your team with video. Check it out here.