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This is volleyball, and anything can happen: Tom Hoff

 
Hoff says the new formats of the World League and World Grand Prix will no doubt create some waves - and it’s about time they did
 
Laguna Niguel, USA, January 14, 2013 - As the 2013 season approaches, former USA player, coach and Olympic gold medallist Tom Hoff opens the FIVB blog series with a look ahead at the new structures of the World League and World Grand Prix, the prospects for Team USA, and the post-Olympic period.

Here is what he said:


The volleyball landscape is set for change in 2013 with the expansion of the World League and World Grand Prix. The new format of these FIVB properties will no doubt create some waves - and it’s about time.  

Volleyball can do with broader international exposure and the game itself can only benefit from having new countries compete with more experienced and successful ones like Russia, Brazil and the US. The new format might offer a chance to countries like Bulgaria and Serbia, who have had a strong history in the game, but are short on recent international experience, to step up and become serious contenders in the League.

As an older, retired athlete I feel this is an excellent way to have more kids see the game and to increase the base of young volleyball players. This is nothing but great for the sport. There are so many people who don’t have the introduction to the game because it isn’t as prevalent in their countries as basketball and football. With that being said, it will take time for volleyball to get through to the kids and for them to develop a passion for the sport.
 
Is there a flip side to increasing the number of teams? If you’re a player your primary concern is increasing your success rate. By increasing the number of teams in the mix, you level the playing field and there is a higher chance for upsets.

It means that we, the US men’s team, have to be on top of our game especially as it may be harder to analyse our opponents.

But I know we’ve got what it takes to rise to the challenge, particularly after watching the team qualify for the Olympic Games in Long Beach, last May. We had a mix of experienced and new players, like Matt Anderson, and the qualification tournament showed that it was possible to come together and pull off a win. This match was an incredible confidence building platform for the team.

As a team, this year will surely be a time for introspection.

It’s now the moment for the younger players to pick up the torch and show their determination to achieve their own success. It is never easy to be compared to heroes of the past. I know from experience that comparison is tiring and the only way to blaze a new trail is to get onto the court, win the matches and set your own history. Young players should be motivated by USA Volleyball’s history of success. It should get under their skin and be the factor that inspires them to achieve bigger and better victories. This is what creates the sparks on the court.

I am also confident that our women’s team will continue to build on their past successes. It was brutal to lose the Olympic gold medal match, but the team should be proud of being consistent in their playing for such a long period of time. Their loss will hopefully set them up for success over the next four years. They will no doubt be focused on dominating their game and are going to be extremely driven.

Things are about to get a whole lot interesting in volleyball. Because even in volleyball, change is good.


Tom Hoff was captain of the USA team that won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and also helped his side clinch the 2008 FIVB Volleyball World League title as well as silver at the 2005 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup. He has competed on the last three Olympic teams and more recently he was part of the USA coaching staff at the 2010 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in Italy. He is currently retired from Volleyball and working for Predixion Software in addition to enjoying his post-volleyball time with his five daughters in Laguna Niguel, CA






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