The Fundamental Consultant

Riley Salmon coaches a new generation

Lee Feinswog
Volleyball Baton Rouge 16s players take a photo with Riley Salmon. Sydney Davis works her phone, Hanna Rovira on Riley's right shoulder, Lindsay Flory behind on the other side, along with Molly Jacobsen and Sameera Mohamed.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been a 16-year-old girl, parented one, coached one, or somehow been associated with one in volleyball.

So you’ll know where I was coming from when I looked at the spring schedule for my volleyball club, Volleyball Baton Rouge, and saw that after our last tournament in early June, we had three weeks before nationals.

I thought about our coaches, hammering home the same message practice after practice, tournament after tournament, and realized that after six months, the girls might have heard those voices enough. So I came to the idea that it would be a great time to bring in someone else.

Enter Riley Salmon.

To cut right to the point, the 2008 gold-medal-winning Olympian did a great job for us, hosting a three day, intensive clinic. We had a fantastic weekend after which our girls were fired up and energized, which was exactly the attitude I had hoped a new voice would inspire.

But what were the chances that our time would be spent with this former men’s national team outside hitter who turned into a libero later in his pro career? The chances were pretty good. Lucky for us, Salmon now coaches girls.

Salmon, 37, is a 6-foot-3 leaper (despite being listed as 6'6" on USA Volleyball’s website, Salmon states his real height is 6'3½") who started playing volleyball at 16.

“I hit my first ball, and it was awesome. I played every day for six years after that,” Salmon said. “I didn’t miss one day playing for six years.”
Those six years included two junior-college seasons at Pierce College in Los Angeles. In 1999, after finishing his time at Pierce, Salmon became a warehouse supervisor at General Electric back in Texas. He worked from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then headed to volleyball, training from 3:30 to 5:30, and then worked at that volleyball facility from 5:30 to midnight. “And I did that four days a week. It was brutal, but I did that for eight months.”

The hope was to compete on the AVP that summer, but out of the blue came a call from international agent Tim Kelly, who offered Salmon a spot on an indoor tour in Europe. His wife Millie, who was his fiancée at the time, gave her blessing.

“I gave my one-day notice,” he cracked.

That tour led to a pro job for a team in Livorno, Italy, and the start of a lengthy career. He joined the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2001 and was a member of the 2004 Olympic team in Athens and the 2008 team in Beijing. Salmon had other pro stops in Greece, Kuwait, and Russia.

Late last summer he learned that he didn’t make the cut for the 2012 Olympic team and took four months off to hang out with Millie and their children, Lincoln and Isabel, in their League City, Texas, home.

“I did a lot of golfing, playing with the kids, and catching up on my rest,” he said.

He also had lunch with Hugh McCutcheon, who was Salmon’s Olympic coach in 2008, because Salmon was curious about getting into coaching. McCutcheon, of course, was also the women’s Olympic coach in 2012 and is now the women’s volleyball head coach at the University of Minnesota.

“I picked his brain for about an hour, and he gave me all the differences and all the adjustments to coaching girls, but basically said I wouldn’t get it until I started doing it,” Salmon said. “The personalities for men and women are so different. Women want to be shown skills, shown exactly what to do, while guys will rely more on the athleticism of jumping and hitting … I find myself being a lot more polite than I would toward men or boys. But there are times when girls need to be pushed pretty forcefully.”

Last winter, Salmon started a company called RS10 Consulting with the idea of doing private lessons, clinics, and camps. He even found himself coaching a girls’ 16s team for Houston Stellar. He was surprised to find that coaching girls was far more gratifying than he ever imagined.

“I thought [coaching] was just something that ex-athletes try to do,” he said. “But now that I’m doing it and I look at their faces and tell them something, and it really registers and they get it, it’s special. Like when [my Stellar team] qualified for nationals, the looks on the kids’ faces, it was something I didn’t know I would feel. I feel so connected to them. It’s like a father-daughter deal. It’s a neat experience.”

Making Connections

So how did Riley Salmon end up leading a clinic for us? Interestingly enough, it was my phone call to McCutcheon that got Salmon to come to Baton Rouge. I originally called the University of Minnesota coach to see if he would come do a clinic for my girls, knowing full well it wasn’t likely. He politely declined, but I told him what I needed: a high-energy coach who would teach, be really positive, not overwork the girls as we went through a session on Friday night, two on Saturday, and another on Sunday.

“Riley Salmon,” he said without hesitation.

A couple of phone calls and a few emails later, Salmon and I had worked it out.

My coaches and I understood that in essence Salmon would be telling our girls just what they had heard hundreds of times before, but not from a gold medalist. He brought his hardware, by the way, and our girls all enjoyed seeing it.

And, as with any clinic for a team in any sport, his sessions focused on fundamentals.

“That’s a tribute to Hugh and Doug,” said Salmon, speaking of Doug Beal, now head of USA Volleyball but also his former coach. “They instilled in me, because I wasn’t the most athletic volleyball guy, that my fundamentals had to be stern and absolutely concrete.

“And I watched them coach for eight years and it was very high level, but it was all about fundamentals. Surrounding the ball, angles. Fundamentals are key to sports in general. The ones with the best fundamentals, in all sports, are the ones who are most successful.”

Much of Salmon’s time these days is spent trying to learn fundamentals on the golf course, where he’s a 9 handicap. What’s more, his 4-year-old son, Lincoln, simply loves the game and wants to get his dad on the course whenever possible.

“I’m really enjoying being a dad a lot more now than when I was playing,” he said. “I can really concentrate on being the father figure that I should be.”

Not that Salmon is retired as a volleyball player. He’s still competing on the EVP Beach Tour and will still play on the AVP.

“I’ll try to play as many [beach tournaments] as I can depending on how much time my company starts taking up,” he said with a smile. “Hopefully my company takes up more time than my playing does.”

Based on his excellence in the clinic with Volleyball Baton Rouge, that’s exactly what will happen.

Originally published in August 2013


Aug 19, 2015 at 11:10AM justin_0

think you've made some genuinely fascinating focuses I require this article to finish my task in the school, and it has same subject with your article. game server in europe

Aug 19, 2015 at 09:19PM mano

I will come here again to break down new upgrades. A debt of gratitude is in order for posting. hack para dragon city

Aug 20, 2015 at 08:52AM crystal63

I truly like after your online journal as the articles are so easy to peruse and take after. Fabulous work keep up the great work. get more instagram followers free instagram likes free trial

Aug 24, 2015 at 04:17PM wolf

Brilliant Information, I truly refreshing with it, Gratefulness professional sharing. I like it. project free tv unblocked

Aug 28, 2015 at 10:41AM justin_0

I discover this blogger a motivation and is definitley worth after. I've turned into a supporter as well, so please keep me updated. How to regrow hair naturally

Aug 28, 2015 at 09:33PM justin_0

I am exceptionally awed with your website you made a hard showing. also, I value that sharing a supportive post, awesome occupation! visit out site

Aug 29, 2015 at 08:01AM mano

I needed to leave a little remark to bolster you and wish you a decent continuation. bedrijfswebsite

Aug 30, 2015 at 07:48AM wolf

This is cool post and i appreciate to peruse this post. your online journal is fabulous and you have great staff in your site. how to hack a facebook account

Aug 31, 2015 at 11:38AM wolf

I bookmarked it. Your site is exceptionally valuable for me , i like it all that much, i get numerous informations from this! Brilliant site.

Aug 31, 2015 at 03:50PM justin_0

I am trusting precisely the same best work inside of you within a reasonable time-frame in the meantime. How long does it take for tylenol to work

Sep 01, 2015 at 10:30AM justin_0

Excellent site. Heaps of supportive data here. I am sending it to a few pals ans also partaking in delectable. drama korea terbaru

Sep 03, 2015 at 09:51AM justin_0

I am experiencing this post and thinking about it's subject and attempting to comprehend what is this post about. hack facebook account

Sep 03, 2015 at 01:17PM crystal63

I like this idea.This article gives the light in which we can watch the truth. This is extremely pleasant one and gives indepth data. فرسان

Sep 03, 2015 at 09:28PM crystal63

I found your site by oversight when i was chasing yahoo down this skin break out issue, I must say your site is really helpful I moreover love the blueprint, its bewildering!. opzioni binarie

Sep 04, 2015 at 09:03PM mano

This is a fabulous post composed. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to peruse a greater amount of your valuable data.

Sep 05, 2015 at 08:12AM wolf

I really revered perusing your posting.So part to happen over your astounding website. wooden chicken coop

Sep 05, 2015 at 08:26PM justin_0

I feel truly cheerful to have seen your page and anticipate such a variety of all the more exciting times perusing here.piattaforma forex

Sep 08, 2015 at 09:22PM mano

Anticipate looking at your page repeatedly.I need you to thank for your season of this brilliant read Tim

Sep 09, 2015 at 07:55AM mano

It would appear that you spend a great deal of exertion and time on your site. clash of kings hack

Sep 10, 2015 at 10:31AM crystal63

Where else may anybody have the capacity to get that kind of information in such a complete system for making

Sep 10, 2015 at 11:33AM crystal63

It's late finding this demonstration.At any rate, it's a thing to be familiar with that there are such events exist. seo techniques

Sep 12, 2015 at 09:39AM justin_0

Your significant closet will be painstakingly investigated, cleaned, and squeezed utilizing the most elevated quality procedures. moviestarplanet

Sep 14, 2015 at 11:35AM wolf

I think this is an educational post and it is extremely helpful and proficient. sky customer service number

Sep 14, 2015 at 02:29PM mano

This truly is the most sublime of articles that I have perused in all my life time. I m truly appreciative to you ! ways to lighten skin

Sep 14, 2015 at 05:29PM mano

The post is composed in extremely a decent way and it involves numerous valuable data for me. fat diminisher system diet

Add a Comment

You need to log in to comment on this article. No account? No problem!