How do you motivate a team that constantly wins everything to go even further? That is a question Zenit Kazan‘s coach Vladimir Alekno must constantly ask himself. After all, Zenit Kazan won all of its 2017-18 season tournaments: Russian Championship, Cup, Supercup, CEV Champions League, and the FIVB Club World Championship. Where and how to go from here? Here is what Alekno had to say (Championat.com):
“The most difficult thing is t0 motivate players. In recent years, this problem exists. Telling Alexei Verbov, Alexander Butko, Matt Anderson or Maxim Mikhailov that it’s important to win is not the kind of words that will get them going. The main motivation this year was the desire to be the strongest team possible. Not champions. Becoming Champions for the 10th time is not motivation. I wanted to be strong, that is indeed more difficult. The players sometimes don’t want that, it’s hard to be strong. This is the main problem at the team at the moment. Beginners helped us this season. Nikita Alexeev, Laurent Alecno, Alexei Samoilenko did not need to be motivated. Their eyes burned, they were happy just to be on the team.”
Alekno, who just extended his contract with Kazan for a tenth season, will have to work hard on trying to break through this problem. Consider for example CEV Champions League play, which Kazan has won the last four editions. How do you gear up for a fifth? A quote from him on preparing for the last CL’s Final 4 might be the key to his success (Championat.com):
“Psychological preparation was the most difficult. After completing each training session, I’m happy that the players did not beat me. They are training hard everyday. They are squeezing every little bit of energy out of themselves. They were ready to play this final one week ago. Thank God, we are all well.”
As most sport psychologists would agree, general training is the best psychological training there is.