Volleyball in Ladysmith by Dr. George MacMaster

Vic Lindal’s Volleyball Session in Ladysmith, Vancouver Island.

Dr. George McMaster

Vic and I travelled to Ladysmith on Jan 31/16 to deliver a volleyball training session to a girls under 16 high school volleyball team. First some high level observations.

The mantra, “What gets measured and monitored gets performed” is necessary to the “success of any endeavor”.  This accompanied with the mandate, “to ensure that all exercises model a competitive environment”, that is, to create game-like situations where ever possible.  Additionally, the saying, “perfect practice makes perfect” was so evident in the striving for a perfect practice. All of these ideas were prevalent in the training.

When we entered the gym, the session was to start at 11.  Some of the team members arrived at 11:06.  Vic made the point that being on time means being at the gym a half hour early, that is, 10:30 in this case.  This can be a good time to ensure that that the nets are up and to do a visualization of what you the coach want to get better at.(once the players are on the Journaling Program(McMaster-Lindal), they can be reviewing what they have listed in their ‘get better’ categories.)  The next point was to make clear to the players, their responsibilities.  Players need to set up the net and remove the trappings of the other sports such as nets and stands, not the coach.  A coach needs to observe the situation carefully. When the volleyball nets were set up, the nets were not at the correct height.  It was especially noticeable that the lower straps, when pulled tight, brought the nets down several centimeters. The game is not played at a lowered height!!!! To practice at the wrong height is not perfect training, since we emphasize again, “perfect practice makes perfect”, and not the more casual statement, “practice makes perfect!” Also ensure that the antennae are in place.

The first step was to determine where the team wanted to go during the year, what was their end point vision or EPV?  This can be done every practice for long range and intermediate plans.  It is also a good idea to check with each player on his or her “get better” goals for the practice. The importance of determining an EPV  and a focus on “get better” is stressed in the text, “End Point Vision and Beyond” by McMaster-Lindal. Vic asked the team a series of questions:

  1. What is the team goal? What events are you going to play in?
  2. Where are the Canadian championships?
  3. Are you going to the provincials? Where are they being held?
  4. It was determined that they would be held in Nanaimo. The island championship would be the focus. The question then was, “what teams are in it?” Vic pushes to get a comprehensive listing of the teams.  This helps to get a clear vision of the EPV.
  5. The team was asked how they would like to do and it was determined that they would like to win or do well. The training then started.
  6. The team players and coaches were advised to read the text, “End Point Vision, Live your preferred future now” where for example; the all-important attitude of “Get Better” is explained, along with methods for capturing ideas to make the improvements a reality.

There were only 7 players at the camp with two others being down with the flu.   A key thought by the coach must be that they always give the team 100%, regardless of the turn out. Vic worked the girls using half the court as described in the “Radical Volleyball Coaching Manual” by McMaster-Lindal and available through the publishing company, Reciprocity Publishing out of Victoria, British Columbia.

The training began.

  1. Forearm volleying and passing were performed first as a warm up on the narrow court using the Monarch of the court concept where the winning team stays on, and you only score on the receiving side. The players were advised to keep their own score and announce when they had 9 points.  Notice the emphasis on “measure and monitor.”  The concept of “get better” is of paramount importance and how will you know if you are getting better if you do not measure. As some of the players served, they stepped over the line.  Vic did an ”Intervention” and pointed out, the error. “Perfect practice makes perfect!” He also stopped the play and asked how many points they had.  When some did not know, Vic did a one-minute reprimand and asked them to start over … at zero.  The player’s attention to listening went away up. Always know the scoring and how to achieve success.
  2. One of the next steps was to teach the float serve. Vic showed them how to stop their hand and snap it.  Also, he explained the dynamics behind its effectiveness: this serve is effective, since if the serve is properly done, there is no ball rotation, building up pressure in front of the ball, causing the ball to flutter or float as it nears the receiver and makes for a challenging return. The players were then asked to announce when they completed 9 non-rotation, or float, serves.  The players were guided as to how to get a non-rotation serve. When players did an effective non-rotation serve, they were congratulated.  This action reinforces, “reward the behavior that you want repeated.”  Vic stopped the practice and announced the players who had made float serves and these players were applauded. The idea of End Point vision in the serve was emphasized.  The players were asked to clearly picture where they wanted the serve to go, visualizing the exact spot on the court, the whole trajectory of the ball, for example where it is going to land, where it crosses the net, leaves the hand. The idea of doing the visualization before bed was advanced as a necessary training method. The players were then paired up, and served back and forth with the players asked to announce when they reached 5 float serves. The importance of the serve was emphasized to the players: It is the one skill that you have complete control over.  Since you are in control, then you can serve well.  Pause at this point and recap: All the training so far had definite specificity, measurement and monitoring.  Also there was continual intervention and positive reinforcement. Also, the players were asked to get the serve in zone 1 and the person receiving announced whether this had been accomplished. The coach can vary the size of the zone to correspond to the level of the players.
  3. The players were then shown how to receive the serve: a. Knees bent and hands on the knees b. When the opposing player was preparing to serve, the arms were lifted, and the players were to sway. c. The arms were brought together to receive the serve with the thumbs touching beside each other, arms outstretched. The players were asked to again visualize the serve coming and where they would set it, that is, exactly on the setter’s hands. The idea of performing a visualization on every drill and every skill was emphasized. There was a bit of an aside piece of advice by Vic: The players were asked to use a journal in the future to write down what they intend to get better at in the following format: “I am getting better at …” and to draw a little diagram of the action.  After every practice, the players would then do a self-measure from 1 to 10, with 10 being a “perfect” execution of the exercise. Again this important training device is emphasized in the McMaster-Lindal EPV book.
  4. The players were then taught to spike using EPV and backward shaping as described in the EPV book by McMaster-Lindal. The mechanics of the spike and getting power were compared to the action in Karate, where in the punch, when one hand is punching, the other hand is drawn into the side of the body to get the required speed. This uses the laws of biomechanics, that is action and reaction.
  5. After the spike, a short game was played with a narrow court and 3 on 3. The team who got 7 points first was the winner. Two coaches were asked to participate.
  6. Vic then took the team into a team play session of service reception and free ball.
  7. In the wrap up, the players were asked what they learned. The training ideas that Vic covered were then put forth by the players.  Vic emphasized starting a journal, drawing pictures and then self-measuring to determine if they were “getting better”. The matador walk for resetting the brain after a poor play was described.  When a player makes an error, instead of “wailing”, they reset the brain by a. standing tall,  breathing deeply: in through the nose and out through the nose. c. smiling.  Another tip was when players hear a compliment about another player they pass it on.  This makes for an enhanced “performance environment”. Another point made by Vic in the wind-up, was in the rotation of servers, your best servers must go first.  Why? Because they will end up serving more than the others in the rotation on average. The first two in the rotation will get one more serve per game.

A note on measurement:  The coach must know what they want done and know what has not been done. Most people are not used to being measured. The idea is “to soar with your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. “ How will you know strengths and weaknesses if you do not measure?

A note on excuses: When Vic and I were working with the coach of an elite junior hockey team, the coach had excuses (rational reasons) for the team performance. See if you use some in coaching: “they don’t have a work ethic, they don’t have the talent, they are not doing it for themselves, they are too small. “   Quit making excuses. Decide what you want done and measure and monitor. When you make excuses, you do not focus on what needs to be done.

On Listening: With the same hockey team, we noticed that some of the players were not listening to the coach’s instructions.  What constitutes good listening? Players looking at the coach. Players being able to summarize what the coach said.  Some of the behavior that we observed:  Player looking around, player talking to the player next to them.  Player looking for their water bottle and playing with it. Player almost out of “the circle of listening range”. When Vic gives coaching feedback, he whistles, players come close and drop on one knee to indicate that they are there to listen.  The focus must be on the coach. If they do not listen there is a one-minute reprimand. The coach must verify the result that is desired right away. Be clear on the outcome that you desire. Listening skills must be taught otherwise the players are not clear on your message! This necessary skill is possibly the least taught skill in the school system.

What really caught my attention with the Lady Smith clinic, was how Vic got the players to pay attention right at the start of the clinic.  As Vic and I talked, he expanded on his journey in teaching listening skills.  As a substitute teacher, he would emphasize the importance of listening skills.  Substitute teachers are usually tested early on by a class who likely look upon a substitute as an opportunity for a vacation. When Vic walked in, he slammed the door. This caught everyone’s attention.   The first person who spoke (not addressing him), were asked to leave and were out of the room. He might say turn to page 32.  The person, who turned and asked the student behind, got a 1-minute reprimand.  They might even be asked to stand in the corner.  If they didn’t, they were out of the room with Vic saying, “I will come out and talk to you, if I remember.” The steps were clear: 1. Time out   2. Into the hall.  3.  See principal.    I was smiling as Vic shared his techniques.  However, his no nonsense approach with the girls team in Ladysmith resulted in a first class training session, the players worked hard, learned a lot and all the players at the end being very happy and enthusiastic with their training.

I noticed with the men’s hockey team, that players were often ‘Dogging it”, that is not giving 100%.  Vic makes it clear with his teams that they are to give 100% all of the time.  With his adult woman’s national volleyball team, he noticed one player not giving 100%.  He quickly said, “You are not giving 100%. You seem tired.  Go to the bench and sit down.  When you are 100%, I will call you back.” The backdrop to the story was that the athlete was saving himself or herself for another sport they were in.  This would be classed as an ‘Excuse’, and you know now where that ranks for validity, a big 0. The athlete not giving 100% would give others the excuse to hold back.  In a game, you cannot perform unless you are giving your all.  Remember, practice needs to be as close to a game situation as possible.

One last substitute teacher classroom example: Vic often would do random testing to see if the students were listening. In class he would point to a field that they would play be playing in.   There was an obvious short path out a particular door to the field. However, Vic would tell them to go out through another less obvious door.  He would stand at the obvious door and ‘catch’ the players who had not been listening.  Yes, a one-minute reprimand followed. From then on, players listened and went out the specified door.  ‘What gets measured and monitored, gets performed!’ and this is a great example of measuring and monitoring the art of listening.

O.K., perhaps one more example is in order.  School announcements over the PA system were an opportunity for kids to yak and not listen. If it was announced that a team, say Hamilton had played, then after the announcements, Vic would quiz the students.  “What team was announced?” he would ask.  “What was the score?” Usually rooms would be noisy during announcements.  Not Vic’s.  If you went to his classroom, you would often hear a student say, “Keep the noise down, I have got to listen to the announcements because I have Lindal.”

To conclude: Vic makes clear what he wants accomplished and he measures the results.  There are also consequences so that the desired task ends up being performed. We have given you many ideas for developing listening skills in your players. Use them.

Footnote: The coach’s of the Ladysmith’s girl’s team asked Vic to come back and do another session.  The team had decided that they wanted to play in the provincials and start working to ‘get better’ and be in a position to achieve this EPV.  An important step in coaching is ignition (the action of setting something on fire), and this request signaled that it had taken place. A player and a team needs a clear EPV and this team had found it through the work of an excellent coach who asked the team at the outset, to consider what their EPV was.  This request also signaled that a  successful coaching session had taken place and action had resulted!!!!  Certainly, bringing back a Master Coach in Vic is a great first step to achieving the goal.

In the text, “The Talent Code, Unlocking The Secret Of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math”, the author Daniel Coyle clearly states that “Talent is made and not born”.  A marvelous guide for creating talent is given in the text, “Radical Coaching, Methods for Winning- Volleyball” by McMaster-Lindal (www.endpointvision.com).  The Ladysmith coaches are advised to purchase the book and study it. Included are  stories of players applying the given techniques to achieve greatness,  These techniques can be passed on to the players. For example there is a very motivational story on how one player increased their jump height, and their volleying skills to make a team and be an Olympic starter. Also, the secret sauce for success,  narrow court doubles,  is clearly described.

The players and coaches are cautioned to not create excuses.  Some examples would be: players are not talented, there is no work ethic, players are not fit enough and on and on.  Keep the mantra, ‘Talent is made not born’  ever present and the coaches can apply the techniques in the Radical Coaching text to ensure that they are ‘making’ the talent.

The next step for the success of the Ladysmith team is for the coaches to get on the Journaling Program.  Once they have learned the system, they can then get their players using it.

As part of ignition, coaches and players can find and use motivational posters, books, videos (youtube) and movies to motivate themselves and ensure that there is no doubt that ignition has taken place.  An example is Brodie Lindal, a young hockey player, who watches video highlights of the top ten N.H.L. plays in any week, and he studies them over and over. Ask yourself how great you wish to be and then take steps to achieve the desired success.

The Ladysmith coaches, by bringing the master coach Vic back, is now ensured that the team will be involved in deep practice, and will know clearly what is required to achieve their EPV. Vic and the Ladysmith coaches can then monitor and continually provide immediate feedback on the team progress.


Volleyball in Zimbabwe continued…

It’s been just over a month since my dad returned from his adventure in Zimbabwe, and as I review his emails and pictures, there is so much more to write.

What an awesome adventure! I ask myself, what is it about sport that can connect all cultures, races, and walks of life? There is something magical about athleticism and team sports. For me, volleyball has always kept me in the moment. I mean, really, Eckart Tole could have just said, go play a team sport if you want to stay in the moment. There is a bonus though! The bonus is an amazing connection with other human beings, a sharing experience that includes teaching, learning, mutual inspiration and joy!

Who helped out with crowd funding? Here is a picture of the shirts purchased for the camp…

Shirts purchased from Crowd Funding

Vic said the kids were very attentive, polite and enthusiastic, and they covered all the aspects of volleyball using his recently published book, “Radical Volleyball” and the End Point Visualization system. 

‘Radical Volleyball’ is co-authored by Dr George Mcmaster and Vic Lindal, published by Dan Doherty and printed in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The coaches of the Starz Academy were required to read the book, and have to review the questions in the book each day. 

One of Vic’s favourite phrases is “The best do, what the rest are not prepared to do.” It is such a perfect and concise way to explain something that holds so many back. How many people say that they would like to do something, but never do, or sit on natural talent with no application to use that natural talent to make a big difference in their life?  Where do they want to be?

When I grew up, my dad would often say, “Set your goals and do it now.” What is it that makes super talented people at the end of their lives say, “I could have been… “

I believe that to be a good coach isn’t about teaching skills alone, but finding a way to motivate, encourage and come along side the athletes to help them attain the goals they set for themselves.

Vic says, “The best do…” and all the kids shout out, “…what the rest are not prepared to do.” He says it again, and the second time they shout louder, and every time he finds a moment to remind them, he reminds them and they respond with enthusiasm and strong voices!

Vic finds simple phrases, and repeats them so that they stick, and that young athlete will find that on days when it seems difficult a little phrase will pop into their head that says, “The best do…” and that young athlete will find the strength to persevere as they finish that phrase with confidence, “what the rest are not prepared to do.”

I can almost see the determination on the faces of the many athletes that have benefited from this sort of encouragement.

Another important part of Vic’s style of coaching is visualization, and he worked with the athletes to use visualization for every drill and every skill. It was noticeably helpful and Vic said that the key was that the coaches were getting it.

Vic writes, ‘We used the camp as a laboratory for the coaches to learn.’He said that one thing the coaches noted, was how much he asked the players to think. The success of this camp truly is what the coaches can take away from it.

I laughed when I received an email from my dad that said he already convinced coach Roddy to make his tallest player the setter. For those of you who don’t know some of Vic’s ‘against the grain’, yet brilliant philosophies, this is one.

In times past people would make the shortest player the setter, and it became a tradition almost. I’ve seen some coaches just pick the player with the best hands, but even if they had the best hands, if they were the tallest, most coaches put them as a middle blocker. 

Let me ask you this… What position on the court has the hardest hitter? Ok, some of you said middle, hopefully most of you said power or left side, but none of you said right side. Who is blocking the left side hitter? Oh… the tiny little setter? That is just one part of it. But that position now has the opportunity to help the middle blocker in both middle and the outside. It seems most teams run a 5-1 system (for those who don’t know, this means one person is the only setter on the team, so when they are in the back row, there are three hitters in the front row, and when they are in the front row there are ‘two’ hitters). The setter is meant to get every second ball. If the setter is tall, hitting the second ball straight over before the other team is set to block would be a lot easier. I’m sure my dad or my brother can explain this concept better, but I remember the many talks about having a tall setter as an option.

Zimbabwe wasn’t just about Vic inspiring, but it also became about inspiring Vic. He told a story of a young lady named Kimberley who got 1800 on her SAT exam. He later saw her studying for a redo. For those who don’t know what 1800 means, let just say that it already gets her full scholarships to Ivy League schools, but she has a goal of 2200. Vic did a little interview and it is posted on YouTube… Kimberley speaks about how her financial degree can help Zimbabwe

Vic had the opportunity to stay in a very affluent area of Harare, Zimbabwe with some wonderful hosts. He said the only difference between this area and Uplands in Victoria, BC (the wealthiest area of Victoria), are the barbed wire fences. Area where Vic stayed

Home Vic Stayed in

His host and her daughter…

Host family

What is so great about Vic, among many things, is his love of connecting with people, getting to know their story, and drawing out the inspiration they have within them. He met another brilliant lady doing great things in Zimbabwe, check out this YouTube interview with Dr. Eve Gadzikwa… Host family daughter interviews Dr. Gadzikwa


Vic in Zimbabwe October 16, 2015

I am not sure how much internet time or available connection Vic has over in Zimbabwe, but I managed to get a few short emails giving me an idea of how his adventure is looking.

Zimbabwe flowersBefore Vic left on his adventure, Martin, the Head coach in Zimbabwe, sent this picture.

It is the beautiful Jacaranda season in Zimbabwe where the streets are lined with these gorgeous purple flowers!

I read further to find out that once these are done, a beautiful red breaks out on the ‘Flamboyant Trees’.

Vic’s adventure started in Dubai, having a casual coffee on a mild 30*C day, while watching Russia against Turkey in Volleyball. I need to ask how the coffee is in Dubai, since I am definitely a coffee fiend, and if I had a chance to travel the world, while some people might taste the wine, I would taste the coffee!

In Vic’s quick note he says, “Great adventure so far”. Even if it wasn’t great, he would make it great. Do any of you remember his trip to Manitoba where he rode his mountain bike the whole way? He was going through the Okanagan and became friends with a loooong-bearded homeless guy (This was before long beards were in), and they travelled together through the middle of BC. Vic said it was because this guy was really great at building fires. It made me realize where I get that from; that love of unique and interesting people. I often keep a quote book with me, because you never know who you might meet who says or does something you don’t want to forget!

Vic said he re-read the new volleyball book co-written with Dr. George MacMaster, and he is inspired and says that it looks great!

On with the adventure… Vic went on a hop on hop off bus tour all day and said Dubai makes Vancouver look like a village!

He found one area with Palms interesting to visit, and there was some deal with condos whereby if you buy a condo you get a car as a gift. The lower levels get nice cars, but the Penthouse gets a Lamborghini!

Vic says he decided not to buy.

As most of Vic’s adventures go, they would be less exciting if he didn’t take a wrong turn. I almost think he does it on purpose! Somewhere around the city centre mall was where this wrong turn happened and he went a very long way before attempting to ask directions.

When travelling in a foreign country it is best to think about what tools you need in order to communicate! Vic ended up at a shop where he met a Syrian refugee and somewhere in his attempt to get directions Vic realized he couldn’t pronounce the name of his hotel, and I am laughing pretty hard right now as I write this… Oh dad! For those of you who don’t know, my dad is brilliant, but pronouncing foreign names is not is strongest skill. But wait! How would he get back to the hotel then? Thankfully he had a picture of the hotel! THAT should be put in the travelling 101 handbook. Take a picture of where you need to go. That’s kind of Vic’s mantra, isn’t it? In this case, the literal sense was quite useful!

Discussing Manual with HEad Coach Robby

Finally, after a good sleep I am guessing, Vic made it to Zimbabwe! Here is a picture of Vic going over the Volleyball manual with one of the head coaches, Roddy.

Preparing for the adventure!

It was the late 1960s when Vic Lindal decided to start what is believed to be the first ever volleyball camp in North America, in a little place called Winfield, BC. It has since been renamed, ‘Lake Country’, probably because it is surrounded by Lakes, and in the middle of the whole town is ‘Wood Lake’. The large ‘Lake Okanagan’, home of the infamous Ogopogo, is just across the Highway, and Kalamalka Lake, which I remember to be a peaceful unique light green colour is at the North. There is a little Lake called ‘Ellison’ that appears on the south end of the town, but I seem to remember this Lake being called Duck Lake.

In the summer, Lake Country is always above 30*C (86*F) and often gets up to 45*C (113*F). The light grey sand feels as if your feet are about to blister in one step, and once you hit the ground anywhere in your bare feet you are running for water! It’s a good thing it’s lake country, because you are never too far from a place to cool down!

What Vic did in that little community spread like wild fire across North America, and now the sport of volleyball is enjoyed in a sing along camp out style event every summer throughout the continent! The Winfield camp later transferred to Williams Lake, and a dormitory style camp facilitated the many interested patrons.

Now, approximately 50 years later, Vic has decided to embark on a new adventure; Zimbabwe, Africa. I think he likes to start volleyball camps in very hot places! It seems Zimbabwe this time of year is actually slightly cooler than the 40 – 45 *C temperatures of the Okanagan summers, and comes in at ONLY 32 or 33 *C as a high, thankfully cooling down at night to 18 – 20. As for lakes to cool off in? I don’t know much about Africa, but I imagine that would be a little harder to find.

Many Universities from around North America have donated their old volleyballs, tablets for coaches have been donated, and a ‘GO Fund Me’ account has been started to help this volleyball camp get started.

Vic recently sent a note of thanks to the following contributors…

Volleyballs and uniforms were donated by: Reynolds Secondary, Volleyball BC, Lambrick Park Secondary, Oak Bay, Brentwood College, and other Universities around North America!

Tablets for the coaches were donated by ‘Data Wind’.

Dr. George McMaster, Dan Doherty, Sandy McMaster and Vic Lindal created a complete manual called,  ‘Radical Volleyball’. In it, they cover a lot that is not normally covered in the general Volleyball books. They focused on the EPV system to create a great program and teach all the skills. This is being printed in Zimbabwe at this moment!

Vic says, “Dr. George did a fantastic job and even added in some powerful concepts on breathing for centring and success. Tom Graham contributed his journey thru the BC team to the 76 Olympics. Jason Sinclair helped explain some aspects of the Break Out service reception. Chris Jenkins gave us his formula for 4 on 4 using the Jim Bjerring system.”

Vic is paying his own way to Zimbabwe, continuing his life long principles of volunteerism. He is a great example of giving back, even at the age of 78! He has created the ‘GoFundMe’ account in order to transport all the amazing donations of equipment, and plans to get to the airport early to negotiate!

Why Zimbabwe? Several years ago, in his ‘retirement’ from the sport of volleyball, Vic took up to coaching the Camosun Girls Volleyball team. Linda Henderson was coaching the men’s team at the time and was the Master coach to a man from Zimbabwe, Martin Dururu. I believe he got his level 4 via Camosun.

Vic says, “We travelled on the bus for hours to places like Prince George and College of the Rockies and had lots of time to help Martin with the EPV system and how he could use it when he got home.

Over the years we have arranged to send used Volleyballs from schools all over Canada and the US.

Some of you may know of the hyper inflation in Zimbabwe. In fact, you may know that it was so high that they eliminated their own currency and now use US, South African or Chinese currency.”

Vic stayed in touch, and when the idea came up for a camp, he took action. If anyone knows Vic, an idea is rarely just an idea. An idea to Vic almost always includes immediate action!

In this case, Vic says, ” The idea for Zimbabwe came to me and I sent a note to Martin to see what he thought. I said give me two possible dates, and I chose the least expensive air for October, booked the flight then booked my air and B &B. That meant I was committed.”

Vic also noted that Martin has met with his committee to put together a gruelling schedule!

The goal of the camp is to build a foundation to support the program so camps can run annually.

Vic arrives in Zimbabwe October 13, 2015, and even though he hasn’t even arrived at this camp yet, his final comment is, “Now to line coaches up for next year.”