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Category: Book Excerpts

Good Coaching Focuses on Process, Not End Result

From Talent and The Secret Life of Teams

I have a friend who tells me that in 1953 he could fix about anything on a Chevy with a combination wrench. Those days are gone.

So are the days when organized sport meant the kids in the neighborhood gathering at the end of the block, without their parents or other adults, to negotiate who would play on which team, who would be chosen last, and who would play right field.

Some people argue that in moving to a culture of spontaneous play to a culture of organized sport, we have improved the technical skills of our kids, while stunting the growth of other skills, such as negotiation, initiative, communication, and the ability to solve problems without adult intervention.

The NCB News Review of Talent and the Secret Life of Teams


Review by Nancy Evans, Nebraska Library Commission

When the University of Nebraska became the first, non-West Coast team to win a national championship in women’s volleyball in 1995, a reporter asked coach Terry Pettit a predictable question. How does it feel? Pettit gave an unpredictable answer, quoting a poet to describe the sweetness of victory. So what kind of book can you expect from such a literate and successful person? One that spans the horizon of literary styles, from essays and journalistic-style commentaries, to columns about trust, love, and coyotes in the backyard, to poems about time-outs and loss.

“They consider my voice
An inappropriate companion
To the pounding of the blood,
Hot with fatigue and disappointment.”

That is the beginning of a poem titled “After the Loss.” Pettit’s 151-page book, Talent and the Secret Life of Teams, is part biographical, providing an inner glimpse at the magical 1995 run to a national title and the extraordinary women on that team.

Deep Volleyball Thoughts

(with apologies to Jack Handy)

When the second official comes over to tell you that you have already used your timeouts, tell him that you thought they were free, like molecules in the air. It won’t keep you from getting a yellow card, but it will give him something to think about for the rest of the match.

Do you know how some players keep hitting the ball into the bottom of the block, over and over? It reminds me of that Greek guy who kept trying to push a rock up a hill that kept rolling back on him. Except the Greek guy wasn’t on scholarship.

You want to have real fun with you team? Turn in the wrong lineup. Flip-flop a middle attacker with an outside hitter. You can’t believe the look in the player’s eyes when one of them says, “Here we go again.”