Guys, it doesn’t matter what we are going to block. If we block line, he’ll hit diagonal. If we block line, he’ll hit line. Hi, I’m Victor Petrov and you’re listening to First Tempo. Hi, I’m Victor Petrov and you’re listening to First Tempo. Our today’s guest is arguably the youngest Bulgarian coach abroad. He graduated from the National Sports Academy, was a trainee in the German grand Berlin Recycling Volleys and nowadays he is a head coach of the U18 formation of this team. In the next minutes we can listen to how players like Sergey Tetyukhin and Dmitriy Muserskiy can be stopped, why Erik Shoji is one of the best liberos in the world and why the use of statistics can be harmful, not useful. Ladies and gentlemen, Victor Petrov! In first place I would like to thank you for accepting the invitation to be a guest in our podcast “First Tempo”. I would like to thank you for the invitation too. SInce you’ve graduated from the National Sports Academy, my first question is how do you assess the knowledge, especially in volleyball, which are provided in the academy and do you think that in some aspect taking into account the education process we are falling behind the development of volleyball now? In first place I would like to say the academy gave me a very good basis, for which I am very grateful to my assistant-professor Bozhilov, taking into consideration the materials, it’s definitely not… they are a bit outdated – In Internet there aren’t a lot of disseminated materials in the platform of the academy, as long as I studied there, but in Internet there are a lot of material that can be used, but we have access to trainings, to other professors and let’s say … the starting foundations in the academy are on a high level for a young coach. The way in which we were taught to think was more interesting – in this way we had our lessons together. It wasn’t in a way like – read this book and you will be coaches. The lectures have been held in a lot more flexible way. I believe that they provided us with a lot of opportunities. From time to time you say to yourself – yes, this could be a bit more updated. But today we can find it, if you have enough desire, everywhere in Internet. You’ve mentioned to me that you use some sources in Internet, can you give some examples? I consult and watch mostly AVCA (American volleyball coaches association) – they have wonderful videos in Youtube. With a lot of types of exercises, why should you use this exercise, in which age group, why does it help you, I listen also to a lot of podcasts, not only yours, which is a great way in informing the people in Bulgaria, but also further in Spotify, these are two main things which I use when I need some new materials. Nowadays you are a head coach of one of the youth formations of Berlin Recycling Volleys, which are champions in men in Germany for the last four years. How has the connection been made and how did you start working there? This is very interesting, because I had a practice from the National Sports Academy and I understood that it is not obligatory to hold it in Bulgaria. I decided to make it abroad, my girlfriend was already here in Berlin, we went to a match, they played against Resovia, Berlin Recycling against Resovia, Niki Penchev was still there. I liked the atmosphere in the hall a lot, always more than 3000-4000 people on a club level, for our sport it’s not a small amount. One plus one became two, I linked the numbers and decided to understand if I would be able to make my practice there. It turned out that it was possible. They didn’t expect someone with volleyball background who is studying for a coach. In this way things linked up – I started by the men, then I made a pause with other teams in Second Bundesliga, in lower leagues and then I went back to the academy of Berlin. If we talk about the level of players between Germany and Bulgaria, I can hardly talk about the Bulgarian boys because I haven’t worked with them, I don’t know how exactly they have been coached, I don’t follow the processes from that close, because I am just not able to do it, but what I know is that here the concept is a bit different because it is based on mass sport. Where there is mass sport, there is a bigger choice. Maybe that’s why in some way Germans are more forward in terms of youth players and youth development. Even without mentioning that the conditions here are on a much higher level. No one can complain about anything. The hall, balls, any equipment, materials, all of them are available in the lowest leagues. In the first team in Berlin you’ve worked together with Roberto Serniotti who has been a long time an assistant of Radostin Stoychev in Trento. What ideas about the game does he have and do you consider that they have a crossing point with the style of the teams led by the Bulgarian? Firstly about Roberto – he is a wonderful – pedantic and methodical person. Demanding. Surely they have concurrences, they worked a lot of time together. As far as I have heard about Radostin Stoychev, I do not know him personally and I can’t claim what is his character etc., how exactly he conducts his trainings, but surely this pedantry, methodical way of doing things, strictness towards the players and all processes definitely is available by both coaches. Roberto is a great Data Volley Expert, analyzer. When he analyses the matches, he succeeds in modelling them also in the trainings. When there is an opponent with a very good block in position 4, he organises the training in such way for us to train against a good block in 4. Just as an example. A great symbiosis between ideas, analysis and performance of the trainings. But also a lot of work. He was one of the first to enter the office and one of the last to leave. This was results-producing. It’s simple, but if you work more than the others and if you work in the right way, you’ll have inevitably better results. He had me, but also the second coach – he was a Japanese Koychiro Shimbo who was an unbelievable analyzer and worked tirelessly too. In this way he let us in the training as a performance of the assignments – spiking, work with the libero. Yes, he is just very good in using and managing his resources. Recently you told me a story linked to the preparation of a match of Berlin against Belogorie. Would you please tell it because I believe that it is very curious. When I entered the team for me, due to all analysis, we made videos for each team at least two times, and I believed that against each player there is some kind of a solution. And I understood that even they play on a very high level, they always have some tendencies, which can be stopped or at least tried to be. We had a match in the Champions league against Belogorie – then in team were Sergey Tetyukhin – the legend, the Russian legend and and the still playing Dmitriy Muserskiy, but also a lot of others unbelievable players. But these two are world-class. We went through all elements of the game – reception, attack and you reach the moment when you should consider the attack of the players. And on the paper it was written, for example: we block line, we block diagonal, with this type of ball, with a reception at the third meter. By Sergey Tetyukhin it was: ” Hands on the ball.” And I thought: “This couldn’t be that simple.” When Roberto took the floor to explain about Tetyukhin, he just said: “Guys, it doesn’t matter what we are going to block. If we block line, he’ll hit diagonal. If we block diagonal, he’ll hit line.” So, read the game and let’s see what is going to happen which was a slap for me, because by now no one has just estimated, no one has made in the game something in this way, everything was very methodical. At the end he didn’t come for the match. He didn’t travel with Belogorie. At the other side was also Muserskiy. The conversations on his attack went in the some way. What to block, how to block… They said: “It doesn’t matter.” As far as Lotman and Erik Shoji consulted then with their colleagues in Russia – Max Holt, who played against Muserskiy. And he said that when Muserskiy doesn’t see a block, tends to spike in the third meter. And in this way we’ll be able to touch the ball and to continue the rally. But it wasn’t about a direct, active block against him in order to be stopped in some way. That was then, now it could be different, but I don’t believe it. Eventually Belogorie won 3:1, it was a beautiful game. In one way or another this tactics worked by Muserskiy, but not enough in order to be fully stopped. That means – to jump when blocking in the latest moment? Yes, more or less we tried in this way since our middles then were Le Goff and Felix Fischer… I think that the rotation was in such way that Muserskiy was against Felix. And Felix Fischer is a shorter middle. Fast, but short. We made it in this way and he reallly touched the ball several times very well, but not enough in order to be efficient all the time. It’s not possible on this high level. What do you believe is the influence of statistics and analysis and how determining is their influence on the end result of the matches? I consider that the statistics and the analysis help as long as it could be implemented by the players and the team. If we talk about the highest level, it helps, because the right statistics can win matches. When you have a team which can follow the tactical instructions and tactical discipline and even though all technical elements of the game, then you’re going to have a successful season. But as we’ve talked before, there are teams on lower level which want to carry out tactical instructions and stats and analysis, but the technical elements are not there and I want to tell you a story in which I was coaching in a very low league as a substitute coach for one match and I was with our 13-years old boys which still play in the men’s league. They are U16. 13-14-years old, we play against another men’s team, but still young players. The coach of other team was one of those… very energetic, we will serve there, but they had problem even with the free ball sometimes, sometimes they were happy that the ball goes to the other side of the net when serving. And she gave instructions to each boy, each serve – she showed – now in P1, now in P5. This is for me the wrongful way of using statistics when it’s not possible to be carried out by the team you manage. But I believe that with small steps, if the team is still not tactically disciplined enough, it could be implemented in some way. To start with let’s block line here, let’s on high ball stay in this way in defence, analysis the opponent – the receiver in P6 never receives well when the ball is at his left side. You can always start with such small things and the full analysis I recommend to be only on the highest level. You have trained one of the most quality liberos in the world in Berlin – Erik Shoji. What more does he possess and what more does he give in order to be one of the best? Erik is incredible. He is top 3 in the world for men, still. His career started in Berlin Recycling, incredibly talented libero, incredibly well trained, technically is so pure, every movement is perfect. If we compare him to Jenia or Zatorski, with other good liberos, Erik is maybe be not that fast, he’s not with such reflexes, but he compensated with the right positioning at the court, when he touches the ball he surely has the best contact with it. What makes him better, I would say that it’s his training model. He doesn’t stop training. He always stays for a bit longer. He knows that if there is a training for blocking that he should do something else. He takes me and said: “Ok, now we train…” or if Roberto has given another instructions and we train defence and reception at other court. Work, work, work was his secret, let’s say so. And desire. At the court he was amazing, loaded with positivism, incited the team towards successful performance of other elements as for example – he observed the block, said: “Ok, maybe you need to close a little bit more.” He organised brilliantly the reception and the defence. He is one of the liberos about you know that he’s not just the fast guy with the different shirt, but exactly this defensive specialist who organises on a very high level and supports the other players. It’s worth to have such a libero in your team. Taking into account how he carries out the forearm pass – his hands platform is just incredible. I have the feeling that he can receive two balls simultaneously when he stretches his hands. I would say that with his positive attitude it is very catching and whoever he plays with they all are being lead by his tempo. Now I observe him in Fakel in Russia, in the Russian league it’s now easy, the Russians as a mentality are a bit more tough, but I see that he “breaks” them and the team has a lot of success, they play great volleyball with Egor Klyuka and Volkov. Yes, this is Erik for me. The last question is – when do you consider that you’ll be ready to take over a men’s team, let’s say on a high level and where is the biggest difference between coaching men and young players? I would be ready in any time to take over a men’s team, but with the clear risk that I’m a young coach or as I talked with other young coaches: “We have 10 years and then we will be young coaches.” As a joke. Even this year I had an offer in Second Bundesliga (Men) as a first coach, but this will be a risk I can take and sometimes it’s not that justified. Everything can happen. Maybe you won’t be in understanding with one player since he is older and he’ll say: “What is he going to tell me about volleyball, I know everything.” And from there the whole season… even if you have good trainings, even if you have a good vision and ideas about the game, everything can go down. That’s why I would like to wait for the best offer I can receive, in order to know that the team is with a good style of working, with good sporting culture and to be a justified risk. On the other question – the difference between coaching men and young players – young players have a lot to improve still and in men more time is spent to working about the tactical aspects of the training. it’ s banal, but also the experience – to play 20 years of 5 years – we can’t say even a word who is more forward. But this experience, if I can divide it into smaller parts, is that it is about a flexibility when taking decisions, but also the way of overviewing the game – for me this is the experience, not only how many matches have you played, but also how do you see the game. Young players do not have this view. And they don’t have this arsenal of solutions, of actions – when it’s 24:24 – I’ll spike this ball always diagonal etc. By men it’s a bit different. Really, when I train young players after a long time, I see that they are physically incredible, they learn very fast, in the framework of weeks we can adopt a new tactics and a new way of playing. But the flexibility to go back to the old one or to make a hybrid – it’s very difficult still. Yes, these are maybe the biggest differences.