Q: How did you land your job as coach of the Canadian men’s and Vanuatu women’s beach volleyball teams, and how do you juggle what must be an insane travel schedule, while continuing to play professionally yourself? What do you think are the keys to making the transition from player to coach?
A: When I finished playing on the FIVB World Tour for New Zealand at the end of 2012, I started doing some private coaching. I had coached before but just camps in the offseason. Heading into 2014, the Vanuatu women sent me an emailI didnt even know they were looking for a coach but several people had apparently recommended me to them. I thought it would be a lot of fun and a good match. Halfway through the season I worked with a German men’s team for one event and the Canadian guys saw me training them and became interested in me as a coach. So really, I almost just fell into both these jobs.
The 2015 season was my first full season with both teams. I knew it was going to be hard and I wondered if I was taking on too much. Luckily almost all the events on the world tour are at the same time for men and women, and the AVP works hard to get its schedule not to conflict with the world tour, so I only missed one event this year.
The hard part was that I needed to prioritize and to make sure I knew what was most important to me. It is hard to give everything your full attention all the time. Getting Vanuatu’s Miller Pata and Linline Matauatu and Canada’s Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk to the Olympics had to be top priority. The next thing was getting Golden Coast Volleyball, the beach club I run with Hayden Jones, up and running, and then the last was playing on the AVP tour. Whatever time I had left I used to train. It was really hard to put my personal training last because I hate to lose and I couldnt help but think if I had more time to train or go to the gym I would have done better on the AVP tour. I wouldnt say Ive mastered juggling this insane travel and playing schedule, but Im trying to work it out as I go and hopefully reach my goals in all my areas of focus.
To make the transition from player to coach, get out there and get into as much coaching as you can. Get used to talking in front of people and be able to explain and show people what you want them to do. It can be beneficial to coach with another person and have them run practice so you can learn from them and get a feel for how they run the training.
Having recently played on the world tour helps me analyze the game and coach at the top level. It is important that your drills are effective. You need to keep the session interesting. You want your practices to have a nice rhythm. I know it’s been a good coaching session when it goes by so fast I dont even realize our time is up. That means the practice has been fun and effective, and it means Ive done a good job.
Jason Lochhead played for his native New Zealand on the FIVB World Tour from 2004-2012. Since retiring from international competition, Lochhead has competed professionally on the American domestic tours. He also coaches Olympic hopefuls Pata Miller and Linline Matauatu of Vanuatu and Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk of Canada.