If you are a student of the game of volleyball, as I believe all good coaches are, you no doubt have a proliferation of books on coaching volleyball and leadership on your bookshelf. As I thumb through mine, I can’t help but notice that while different, they are somehow all the same.
Terry Pettit’s new book, Talent and The Secret Life of Teams, is definitely not the same. With chapters titled The Coyote Coach, Snakes, Recruits and Serendipity, you immediately realize “this isn’t your grandfathers Oldsmobile”. Because Pettit is first and foremost a writer, this is a coaching book where nothing gets lost in translation. His words are his own, and as you read, his greatest strength.
Warm, sentimental and very funny, The Secret Life of Teams, is more a collection of “essay’s poems, and letters”, his book, allows us a unique and refreshing way to view our sport, players and our role in those lives. There are no drills, no diagrams, and no pyramids of success, and that isn’t by accident. What the book does offer, is a refreshing narrative, and style more in the lines of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance than, Anson Dorrance’s Coaching Soccer Champions.
Pettit’s unique way of looking at the game, comes directly from his non-typical path to coaching. An English teacher and poet, “My coaching owes as much to Thomas Hardy, as it does from listening to John Wooden” Pettit shares his development as a coach, and how his personal background and interests shaped his own coaching philosophies. This book lets you inside his personal journey as a coach, and encourages coaches to reflect, take stock of, and re-evaluate their own journey as a coach.
Readers will get a direct look at Coach Pettit’s blueprint to developing Nebraska Volleyball not only into a national power, but a brand name, and a community treasure. The reader goes on a journey with Pettit from the lessons he learned, riding in his fathers milk truck to, teaching English in college, to winning a national championship at Nebraska. Coaches will thrill in the intimate details and struggles of that teams magical run to the most coveted prize.
Whereas most coaching books seem to want to persuade you to believe in or follow a certain philosophy, In his introduction Pettit states “My goal is not to persuade you to my point of view or coaching philosophy, but rather to stimulate you to reflect on your own story and begin to take responsibility for your own coaching development”.
Readers will especially enjoy the sections on team building, trust and how to evaluate and leverage your talent. As silly as it is deep thinking, The Secret Life of Teams is refreshing, clever, and like all good books, leaves the reader with plenty to think about when they finish the journey.