The offseason is finally nearing for Canada’s Sam Pedlow, who is coming off a top-10 finish at the FIVB Beach World Championships in Vienna earlier this month. It will be time well enjoyed by Pedlow, who has experienced a hectic schedule over the past two years in dealing with the Olympic cycle, the FIVB World Tour and his personal life away from the sand. But one thing remains constant for Pedlow’s journey toward acquiring consistency: staying patient.
“The biggest factor for success is patience. Understanding what you can control and can’t control,” Pedlow said in a one-on-one interview with VolleyMob. “As long as we play good volleyball we will be fine financially, we will be fine points wise and we will be fine for Olympic qualification.”
Developing that patience is difficult though, as beyond an already treacherous World Tour schedule, Pedlow went through a partner change this past season. After four years with Grant O’Gorman, Pedlow joined forces with Sam Schachter.
They almost immediately were forced into tournament play, as they trained for just a few weeks before the NORCECA Continental Championships in Trinidad & Tobago. Sure enough, the Pedlow/Schachter grouping pulled through for Pedlow’s first victory on a FIVB or NORCECA stage in their very first event together. They did so in dominant fashion too as they didn’t drop a set, regardless of still figuring each other out.
“We didn’t train a whole lot for it,” Pedlow said. “Some of our block defense patterns I didn’t even know. Sam would be calling a play and I had no idea what it was at all. So I would send him to the net the next time I was serving and run the same play that he called so I could see what it was.”
In total now for the pair, they’ve appeared in nine tournaments together. Sure enough they’ve had nine top-10 finishes, even winding up in second at the Long Beach Presidents Cup and earning top-five finishes at The Hague and Gstaad.
But even with the success, it requires that patience and consistency that Pedlow talked about. Due to the Olympic cycle, Pedlow hasn’t had an offseason in roughly two years. When you’re constantly on the road away from life at home, that can be difficult to handle.
“Being away is always a challenge,” Pedlow discussed. “The Europeans have a big advantage when they can go home for one day or two days after a tournament where as we travel to the next spot and sit there.”
Throw in a personal schedule of an upcoming wedding and work, and you’d be testing anyone’s patience.
“I’m getting married in October. It’s kind of tough to leave my wife every year,” Pedlow added. “We’ve been doing it for a long time. When you’re gone for 70 days in-a-row sometimes it’s a challenge.”
It seems as if being busy has become something that Pedlow relishes though, as he uses his patience to keep a calm demeanor about it and execute the difficult schedule well. Beyond his endeavors in the sand, Pedlow has three college degrees and is a registered physiotherapist. Pretty soon over the course of the offseason, he will have to juggle work and volleyball at the same time.
“We typically train in the mornings 8-10, then I have a workout from 11-1 and then I start work from 3-8 five days a week,” Pedlow commented. “It’s busy, busier than a lot of people can handle I’m sure, but I like it. My work place is great. I think I’ve set myself up well to succeed once volleyball is over.”
Life as a physiotherapist also helps Pedlow maintain consistency on the court, because to keep putting up top-10 finishes and good results, the team needs to be healthy. Having strong knowledge of the knee and shoulder among other things, Pedlow uses his cognition of the body to shape his training and address his limitations, while it also keeps him more fresh on tour.
“It just gives me an appreciation if I don’t have a therapist on tour what severity is it and can I deal with it? I think it helps my partner out as well. A lot of times when you’re on the road those things that aren’t necessarily an issue can become an issue because of the grind,” Pedlow said.
As Pedlow finally garners an offseason to take some personal time and train with his new partner, he will be looking to continue his ever-improving arc of success. Playing with O’Gorman (2013-2016) and now Schachter (2016-present), Pedlow’s World Ranking started at 151 in 2013. It has since risen each year as he is now ranked 13th in the FIVB World Tour rankings as of August 14. A big key into that has been the consistency of a plethora of top-10 finishes.
While the rise has been huge, it was also a long journey for Pedlow, who talked about the most difficult aspect of when he first started up.
“The biggest thing at first was just experience and with experience comes comfort,” Pedlow said. “When you’re comfortable you can relax, especially when you’re not trying to battle out of qualifiers each and every week.”
Beyond garnering experience and comfort, Pedlow knew it was important to be more consistent, something he noted as not doing well back in 2013. A component of that are the qualifiers he had to play in, something he called ‘one of the toughest things with our sport’. Beyond the extra events, it also forced Pedlow to face teams you knew nothing about. It’s hard to stay consistent when you’re going into something without your bearings.
“Consistency is probably the hardest thing on the World Tour. If you have a great week backing it up with another great week and trying to avoid those down weeks” Pedlow added. “If you were to pull a 25th – if there’s only 8 tournaments – and you pull another 25th, then you’re on the edge of getting that bad result to count toward your points.”
The key to that consistency is patience. Pedlow is able to remain calm and block out his worries in addition to the chaotic schedule that he is in the midst of to allow him a focused game in the sand. As the offseason approaches and Pedlow looks to improve a few things here or there with Schachter for the first time, the common theme is consistency. It’s safe to say that Pedlow’s patience is paying off in a big way toward his goals, as his demeanor has led to stable success, both on and off the beach.