Punahou High School: The Elite of Men’s High School Volleyball

Rick Tune talks about how Hudl has made him a better coach, and offers advice on how it can do the same for you.

Punahou High School: The Elite of Men’s High School Volleyball

Rick Tune talks about how Hudl has made him a better coach, and offers advice on how it can do the same for you.

This past season, the Punahou High School Buffanblu just won their sixth consecutive state championship - yet another tremendous achievement for the school that boasts alumni like Micah Ma’a, 2016 AVCA First Team All-American at UCLA, U.S. Olympic volleyball player Eric Shoji, and President of the United States Barack Obama. But for Punahou, success is almost expected. After all, the school has won 34 volleyball state championships.

For head men’s volleyball coach Rick Tune, success isn’t given. It’s earned every step of the way. We sat down with Tune to learn more about this illustrious volleyball program that strives to create not only elite athletes on the court, but upstanding men off of it.

“We want kids that want to compete, and that operate their lives with a zest and a zeal.” Rick Tune

Spike, one of the most recognized words in the volleyball dictionary, means something more to the Buffanblu. The acronym is at the forefront of everything they do - sacrifice, passion, integrity, kinship and excellence - and it’s at the core of their success. “In our program, kids come from all kinds of clubs, and they’re usually the guy, but when they come to Punahou they have to learn to play within their role, and they have to embrace it,” said Tune.

At the base of the program is sacrifice and passion. “Sacrifice really talks about putting the group first. And then passion means you have to bring more than skill to the court. You can’t just be a good, technical setter. What do you bring to your teammates? We want kids that want to compete, and that operate their lives with a zest and a zeal. It’s all about attitude,” said Tune.

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Integrity and kinship are the two cornerstones of the volleyball program. “Simply put, what are you doing when no one is looking? We try to train like that. There’s no cutting corners. A lot of guys don’t know how far they can push themselves, and what they can endure to push through those barriers,” added Tune. “So in our training, we do some intense workouts, but they’re not designed to be physically tough, but mentally challenging.”

“Our relationships with our players are vital to that. In order to get the most out of them, you have to have a good relationship with them. You have to be a human with them. And when you do all four of those things well, excellence will come. We want not only good volleyball players, but sons and boyfriends, etc. Excellence comes from being the best that you are capable of becoming.”

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Eleven straight league titles and five straight state titles certainly stand out. But the team’s success has been built on the foundation of doing things the right way. “Year over year, we focus on the process. We let the product take care of itself, using our philosophy to do that. It just happens to work out for us,” said Tune.

Tune and his staff believe in developing not just superior athletes, but superior students of the game. “That’s where Hudl comes in. We want kids who are going to study the game and understand the tactical side of the game, especially when we get in and talk about scouting reports for preparation.”

“I haven’t met anyone who watches as much video as we do. It’s hours of film review.” Rick Tune

Preparation, after all, is the key to success, but it hasn’t always been easy. Before Hudl, the work that the staff at Punahou did was very labor intensive. “We used to do everything by hand - we had a big whiteboard where we’d track every rotation and key stats from the data so we could make adjustments,” said Tune.

Now, the team’s statistical director tracks all that game data live on the iStatVball 2 app. He does that as the game is going, and uses Hudl’s new stat integrations to upload the data and match it with video on Hudl - allowing them to generate reports to distribute to players and coaches with ease.

The stats they track are benchmark stats that Tune learned from being an assistant at Pepperdine, and there are key areas that they try to hit. “The biggest ones are scoring percentage and side out percentage. I think those are the key ones you need to look at, and then you need to answer why. What factors are contributing to those things? There’s a multitude of reasons, but having video alongside is absolutely vital,” Tune said. Based on that information, they tailor practices to help improve where needed. 

“I haven’t met anyone who watches as much video as we do. It’s hours of film review. Hudl allows me to break it down into little chunks, so if there is something I really want to focus in on, like all of rotation one’s attacks, I have the video and data to do that very easily. It allows me to get a clearer sense of trends and you learn a lot.”

Preparation goes so much further than just the coaching staff. The Buffanblu have made video analysis paramount for their players’ development as volleyball players. “For different position groups, they have different queues for different things - the middle blocker is getting into the mindset of the opposing setter and vice versa as an example - and the game hinges on those things. We spend a lot of time watching video with our players and we find they get a real benefit from it,” said Tune. “As I mentioned before, the best players that I coach are students of the game, so they understand why things are happening the way they are. The best players can see the play developing, and they can execute a counter strategy. The quicker they can understand and see that, the better we are.”

The tools we have now with Hudl are so much easier to use, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort.” Rick Tune

For certain players, like former Punahou standout Ma’a, video analysis helped them realize their full potential. “Micah was probably one of the best players to come out of Punahou. He set all kinds of records, and he came in with a lot of knowledge about the game. I remember having a conversation with him going into his senior year and again when he was a freshman this past year at UCLA. He said that even though he came in with such an extensive background in volleyball, watching video and seeing the trends and stats amplified that and took him to another level of play. So I think for any player who wants to maximize their potential, they have to be disciplined enough to look and read and evaluate,” said Tune.

“The tools we have now with Hudl are so much easier to use, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort. Hudl gives us some of the same benefits without having the extreme amount of time and commitment it could take. I love Hudl. It’s something that has made me a better coach, and it’s something that can do the same for any other coach and for their team.”

We’re proud to help Punahou continue to develop a successful program through video, and the tools they use are available for anyone. Click here to learn more about our volleyball tools to see how they fit with your program.

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