Jamie Morrison described the Dutch national team’s schedule as “a little bit ridiculous” as he prepares for the challenge of the upcoming Volleyball Nations League, European Championship and the World Cup.
With a number of the Netherlands’ top players still in action for their club sides, head coach Morrison said that giving them a few days’ respite before reporting for international duty is proving difficult.
The former USA coach revealed how a conversation with middle blocker Robin de Kruijf highlighted the issue, when she asked him whether he would be coming to see her play for Imoco Volley Conegliano in the CEV Women’s Champions League final on May 18.
“I was in Italy sitting down with Robin, chatting about her season,” Morrison told the volleyball podcast Freeball.
‘A little bit ridiculous’
“They’re obviously going to the finals of the Champions League and she asked me: ‘Jamie, are you going to come and watch the match?’
“I said: ‘Robin, we’re flying to Serbia for our first match that day’.
“It’s getting to the point where it’s a little bit ridiculous. We have these players getting pushed on both ends.
“Our goal is to give everyone a 10-day vacation, trying to make sure everyone gets a breather, gets away from volleyball, and then they can get back.”
The Dutch must then prepare for their Olympic qualification tournament from August 2-4 ahead of the CEV Women’s European Championship, which takes place from August 23 to September 8.
A gruelling international schedule concludes with the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup from September 14-29, and Morrison indicated that there is a risk of players burning out.
“It’s not an easy task,” he said. “Busy is an understatement. Every sport has issues but ours is one of the only sports in the world where players don’t have an off-season.
“I think our sport needs to change a little bit and make sure that the people who are in charge care about the longevity of the athletes as much as they care about putting them on the court.
“We have six days off in between our European Championships, assuming we go to the finals or play on the last day, and the World Cup.
Blending youth and experience
Morrison has a number of experienced players in his squad, with the likes of captain Maret Balkestein-Grothues and Myrthe Schoot on hand to nurture up-and-coming talents like Indy Baijens and Demi Korevaar.
The coach underlined the importance of maintaining the players’ mental and physical well-being over the course of what promises to be a testing period.
Looking ahead to the VNL, he said: “In a five-week competition you need to have a team that has a bunch of interchangeable parts, so you can call a new athlete in and have it work just as well as starting with the six or seven you’d normally have out there.
“At the last one we tried to mix up line-ups so everyone feels involved and everyone’s safe physically and mentally, keeping some gas left in the tank to go and make that last push in China.
“I inherited a team that was in its prime and the reason I came here is because I thought the team was capable of doing great things based on the personnel that was here.
“The athletes in their prime are coming near the end of their career. They probably have a tiny bit left in the tank and I need to make sure their bodies hold up for the long term.
“My biggest goal is to have these athletes decide when they want to retire – not having their bodies decide when they have to retire,” he added.
“At the same time we want to win as many matches as we can.”
Check out Freeball’s full interview with Jamie
In this enlightening, enthralling and entertaining episode they discus Jamie’s career, his journey starting out as a coach at 19 years old and his role now. They also touch on the coming international season, his philosophies, the heavy schedule and how he goes about managing his players. Jamie is as great coach and makes for an interesting listen.