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21st Century Volleyball Expertise
21st Century Volleyball Expertise
21st Century Volleyball Expertise
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21st Century Volleyball Expertise

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"21st Century Volleyball Expertise" presents theories on the development of men's and women's volleyball, based on practical and lived experience of international coach Gylton Da Matta.

In the past 20 years, the technical advancements in sports have been remarkable. In the case of volleyball, such advancement is observed through the improvement in systems of training and the increase of technical expertise demonstrated at the world-class level. From a technical standpoint, volleyball is now faster than ever. Serves are faster, more accurate, and more aggressive. Volleyball players are performing at the threshold of human reaction and at the top of their ability.

Although technology, systems of training, and performance have increased, the content of volleyball coaching theory has not evolved at the same rate. "21st Century Volleyball Expertise" is the first of a series of books designed to address the practice, theory, and advanced volleyball content at the elite level.

This book organizes and focuses on the modern methodologies of practice and innovation, and it is supported by the reality of modern volleyball in the Nations Volleyball League, Olympic Games, and recent World Championships.

Best for expert coaches and elite athletes, this book presents and reflects upon best practices, coaching expertise, athletes' excellence, higher education, and sports scientific issues.
Release dateJun 20, 2021
21st Century Volleyball Expertise
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    21st Century Volleyball Expertise - Gylton Da Matta Ph.D.


    © Gylton Da Matta Ph.D.

    All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

    ISBN: 978-1-09838-445-6 (eBook)

    Table of Contents



    Contributing Co-Authors


    Practice Expertise and New Mindset for Winning

    Applied Motor Learning Concepts in Teaching and Learning Volleyball

    Culture of Expert Development in Volleyball and Team Sports

    International Structure of Volleyball: European Perspective

    Volleyball Tactics Expertise

    Tactical Evaluation in Volleyball - A Multicultural Expertise Analysis

    Expert Mindset on Serving and the Correlation Between Offensive and Defensive Complexes at World-class Volleyball - KI and KII Analyzed

    Passing Expertise - Elite Training and Refinement Strategies for Advanced Players

    Setting Expertise

    Developing and Training Specific Function Variability

    The Features of an Expert Setter in Elite Volleyball

    Attacking Expertise

    Becoming One to Be Whole: A United Volleyball Team Philosophy

    Moving Beyond Periodization - Towards an Intimate Dialogue Between Plan and Process with Practical Applications in Volleyball

    Sports Management and Enhancing Performance in Volleyball




    The purpose of this work is to present theories on volleyball expertise developments focused on practical and lived experiences. It also highlights the importance of significant voices in the context of elite volleyball training and performance. Furthermore, this work applies science focusing on playing, teaching and training approaches to volleyball expertise development in men’s and women’s volleyball while addressing meaningful topics of elite volleyball in the 21st Century. In this work, we present and reflect upon best practices, coaching expertise, athletes’ excellence, higher education and sports scientific issues.

    This book is addressed towards expert coaches and elite athletes. There is a huge demand for an applied science book that is rooted in top volleyball scholarship to answer the deepest questions of elite coaching and to provide a better understanding of volleyball as a social phenomenon. This book organizes and focuses on the modern methodologies of practice and innovation and it is supported by the reality of modern volleyball as it has been expressed in the Volleyball Nations League, Olympic Games, and recent World Championships.

    From a technical and tactical perspective, we want to share the reality that volleyball is now, faster than ever. Volleyball serves are very fast, accurate, and aggressive; thus volleyball players are performing at the peak of human reaction and ability. Moreover, after developing the Awesome Volleyball Method in 2001, Dr. Da Matta has consolidated the Volleyball Deliberate Practice Method © that focuses on best practices, creating new learning curves for volleyball players and intertwining technical development with injury prevention strategies. The Volleyball Deliberate Practice (VDP) has been presented by Dr. Da Matta in hundreds of coaches’ clinics across the United States and in the world (Brasil, Denmark, Argentina, U.S. Virgin Islands, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Japan, Singapore, and Ireland).

    In the past 20 years the technological advancement in sports has been remarkable. In the case of volleyball, such advancement is observed through the improvement in systems of training and the increase of technical expertise demonstrated at the world-class level. Although technology, systems of training, and performance have all increased the content of volleyball, coaching theory has not evolved at the same rate. This book collects, synthesizes, and critically examines the theoretical knowledge of volleyball shared by the top coaches and observed in some of the top training centers in the world. 21st Century Volleyball Expertise is the first of a series of books designed to address the volleyball deliberate practice theory, and advanced volleyball content at the elite level. Many volleyball scholars have shared meaningful books, articles, and manuscripts about developmental volleyball as well as about the infra-structure of volleyball expertise. Through the observation of coaches across the spectrum of expertise, it has been documented that many so-called college and top club coaches either do not know some fundamental principles of coaching or simply ignore them. In fact, since the FIVB has delegated national governing bodies to implement their own coaches’ education programs we have observed that the investment in volleyball research theory has regressed to the detriment of a commercialization of volleyball knowledge for protectionist reasons other than a true advancement of the body of knowledge in volleyball best practices and theory. In this book, we hope to create an honest and dynamic discussion about what we know and what needs to be investigated in volleyball in response to the technological advancements and the social challenges encountered in this beginning of the 21st Century. Finally, I would like to dedicate this book to all volleyball communities who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To represent the volleyball family, I dedicate this introduction to my friends and colleagues Prof. Ribardo Tabach, Prof. Gabriel Cunha and Prof. Renan Dal Zotto. Prof. Renan has been hospitalized for two weeks and his team has been practicing very intensively with determination and professionalism in preparation for Tokyo 2021. Renan has been instrumental in getting all members of the Brazilian Volleyball to participate in the SportsEdTV Foundation projects in Brazil, in the United States, across Latin America, in Asia, Europe, Africa and in Oceania.

    Thanks to everyone who volunteered to participate in this book.


    --- Gylton Da Matta, Ph.D.




    Editors’ Introductory Dr. Da Matta addresses the importance of a volleyball content geared towards elite levels of performance. He finds that many great volleyball coaches are in search of a theoretical foundation for the practice and science of training volleyball. Some have suggested the importance of Motor Learning, Motor Control and Motor Development. Although the Kinesiology Sciences represent one of the theoretical pillars in our field, Dr. Da Matta found that the Deliberate Practice theory, along with the pedagogical sciences of didactics, planning, assessment and methodology, represent the core foundation for coaching elite volleyball (Da Matta, 2004). In this book, without apologizing, the author and contributors embrace coaching as a fundamental teachers’ profession, and therefore intend to bring applied scientific evidence from Neuroscience, but will add it to and from practice experience, and coaches’ live experiences, remembering the words that their praxis is valid science. Thus, we bring the voices of players and coaches as a validation and cross-reference of what they think has been meaningful in the past 17 years, during which Brazil has been ranked number one in the world. Coaching is teaching! Thus, the FIVB recognizes the valor of physical education teachers as coaches in which through the development of sound lesson plans based on pedagogy, didactics and planning with a pencil and paper or with a dry eraser on a white board, demonstrate how to make practice the foundation to transform athletes sweat into gold medals. This work, in a very simple way, cherishes the ingenuity of coaches. It celebrates what they do and shares why they do what they do, as a humble reflection of their realities and praxis in the gym. Their innovation is to use boxes, visual aids and create practices with little equipment that elevate players as the center of the process.

    There are a lot of volleyball books for teaching beginners and also many FIVB Coaches Manuals for basic to intermediate levels of coaching (Level I and level II certifications), but there are not advanced volleyball coaching materials in the market. In the past 10 years, the FIVB has designated that national governing bodies should be in charge of administering the volleyball coaches level III for coaches to work at professional leagues in their respective countries and also the coaches certification level IV geared towards the advancement of world-class coaches. Unfortunately, in the majority of the countries the level III and level IV coaches certifications are administered for senior coaches that did not have access to the sports sciences of volleyball. This book provides the scientific approach and the bedrock foundation of applied neuroscience in volleyball coaching education.

    This work is about the relationship of coaches with players and more than anything else their imperfections and their efforts to become their best persons.

    Among the authors and co-authors gathered in this manuscript, we have experts who worked in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, Australia, North, Central, and South America. Each is steeped in the conviction that volleyball is a complex sport to teach but it represents a challenging and intriguing process to teach, to train, and to perform.

    Pragmatically, Dr. Da Matta rescues the identity that the player and the training process represent the center and the key aspects of modern volleyball and as a field needs to be conceptualized as coaches-oriented and athlete-centered. Dr. Da Matta also presents the idea that in the digital age, analyzing the performance and implementing modern training systems through the use of statistics and probabilities is wise, but it mustn’t overshadow the reality of what is happening in the game. The use of game analyses and video technology does not substitute practice and playing the game. Yet, with the speed of the game as it is played, having some information about trends and tendencies cannot be underestimated, he suggests.

    In this book the readers will be able to understand the role of serving in the women’s team and the power of the jump floater and players’ abilities to perform fake serves, such as tossing eliciting a jump floater and performing a jump top spin or tossing a top spin and performing a jump floater, has created a new paradigm in the serve vs service-receive battle. In order to address this problem, many scholars have invested a huge amount of time studying and researching motor learning, motor control and neuroscience applied to volleyball. But the true difference in the level of performance of teams and players still lies in the quality of practice, the amount of practice, and how expert coaches manipulate time, people, space, equipment and the game situations practiced in the gym.

    Adopting a well-planned and well-structured process is also wise, but periodization once principled in human interaction and embraced with flexibility can be useful for team sports. Periodization should be seen as principled planning in which adaptability, flexibility, and the adjustments done by the coach (or by the players) lead to success, not from the vector of volume and intensity of practice alone, but from common sense. In the 21st Century, the application of dialogue and connection of athletes and coaching staff seems to be critical and demands further understanding. Diversity, equity, inclusion, faith tolerance and anti-racism praxis make sense in a day-to-day life in the gym, Dr. Da Matta concludes.

    Chapter I – Dr. Gylton Da Matta addresses the unique characteristics of this book and reflects on the need that the volleyball community embraces the science of sports. As a passionate volleyball player, coach, scholar and administrator, Dr. Da Matta’s Chapter 1 contextualizes the importance for volleyball to focus on coaching education and volleyball research. The level of play correlates with the level of coaching. Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world and it is so much fun to develop athletes who can play volleyball injury-free for a lifetime. Moreover, it is very important that the United States assume its role in the youth sport, scholastic sport, and recreational sport, both for Americans as well as for the international volleyball community. Dr. Da Matta is the author of Awesome Volleyball and the Applied Deliberate Practice Theory in Volleyball.

    In Chapter II, Prof. Ricardo Tabach shares the historical context in which Brazil embraced technical expertise as a key aspect to increase the performance of their national teams. From the 80’s, through the 90’s, many Latin American countries have experienced similar realities, but in contrast to Cuba, Argentina and Peru, Brazilian volleyball had the opportunity to professionalize both the quality and quantity of practice, along with the implementation of an expertise development for coaches, administrators, referees, and above all, men’s and women’s teams/clubs followed. Much of the evolution of the game evolved from the analysis of players and teams, however the game of volleyball reached new heights through the flexibility of its concepts and the rigor in the dialogue between coaches and players.

    In Chapter III, Prof. Abe Meininger displays a comprehensive array of motor learning, motor control and motor development concepts moving volleyball teaching towards expertise. From Mini-Volleyball to U18 elite training, teachers, parents and athletes need to understand how we process motor skills and how teachers can present higher concepts of movement training. Although the chapter addresses in-depth concepts of volleyball excellence for youth and children, such concepts relate to Chapter I as being the theoretical foundation of elite volleyball adopted by top countries in their training of their senior teams. It is important to understand that children are not athletes in miniature but it is possible to teach similar concepts in a developmentally appropriate approach or adapting the movements to the stage of development of each player. This chapter depicts the quality of practice, teaching and quality of technical training in volleyball. Using simple language Prof. Abe Meininger and Dr. Da Matta describe straightforward teaching principles grounded in solid neuroscience concepts.

    In Chapter IV, Dr. Da Matta reports findings resulting from a comparative study between Denmark, the United States, and Brazil. The summary and synopsis of the literature review clarify several myths shared by coaches in those three countries. The research data shared in this chapter spotlights the need for more research in volleyball and indicates that over time volleyball coaches have a tendency to become dogmatic and to forget important information already established by basic science research in physiology, anatomy, biomechanics, and performance expertise theory. The interpretation of meaningful volleyball research from the ’90s will consolidate important transitional stages of research towards the 21st Century. In one sense there are several sophisms that must be corrected, yet on the other hand, there is irrefutable evidence both from basic and applied sciences that represent the bedrock for ecological systems, expertise research, and the perspective of studying complex systems in team sports, including volleyball. Although coaches don’t have much time to read, the elite coaches have reported being dedicated readers of context, content, and volleyball-specific research. Volume I reviews the relevant 90s literature. In Volume II, the 2000’s first and second decades will be contextualized.

    In Chapter V, Prof. Jan Meier and Dr. Da Matta analyze the infrastructure of sports and the structure of volle