Volleyball coach hopes losses turn team around

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Volleyball coach hopes losses turn team around


Shin Chi-yong

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands - National volleyball team head coach Shin Chi-yong and his men failed to earn a single win at the 2010 FIVB World League tournament. But Shin thinks the disappointing showing will serve as a turning point for the team.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would lose 12 consecutive games as head coach,” Shin said. “But I’ve learned a lot from the consecutive losses.”

Shin, who coaches the Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance squad in the domestic league, led the team against Brazil, Bulgaria and the Netherlands in Group A of the annual tournament.

Ranked 16th in the world, Korea finished dead last in the 16-team tournament without a single win.

Korea has traditionally fared poorly against the size and power of the South American and European squads. To make matters worse, the national team was not at full strength. Coming off six months of domestic league competitions, the players looked fatigued. There were also several key players like Park Chul-woo of Samsung, Lee Kyung-soo of LIG and Yun Bong-woo and Ha Kyoung-min of Hyundai who missed the tournament due to injuries.

With so many obstacles, the national team failed to showcase their usual fast-paced style of play.

Despite all the setbacks, Shin thinks the losses will eventually help turn the team around.

Pointing to the success he’s had with the Samsung squad, Shin thinks the key to their success will be their defense.

“I have found the starting point for a turnaround,” said Shin. “Some criticize our team’s [Samsung] style due to what appears to be our heavy reliance on Gavin Schmitt. It doesn’t matter if you have a top offensive player, a team cannot win without a solid defense.”

The players representing Korea on the national team are the top scorers on their respective teams. This means they have been the leading players on their respective teams since middle school, high school and university. It is customary for such hot prospects to pay less attention to defense.

“Volleyball requires footwork. The players must stay busy on their feet in order to connect properly on incoming serves and spikes,” explained Shin. “I’m trying to instill the importance of taking care of the little things and staying busy on defense, but it takes time for all this to sink in with the players.

“From now on, I’ll put the players through tougher defensive drills.”

With the 2010 World League out of the way, the national team is focused on its next target: a first place finish at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in November.

“Once we have the foundation of our defense, we can use our strength [speed] to our advantage,” said Shin.

Meanwhile, Kang Dong-jin and Ha Hyun-yong start their mandatory military service later this month. Shin must replace them before the Asian Volleyball Confederations’ 2010 Asian Men’s Cup in Iran Aug. 1-7.

By Jung Young-jae [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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