The current defending World Champions, it’s safe to say that the Polish national has a target in its back. The team is under a lot of pressure, from both the fans and media. Gone are the legends of Paweł Zagumny, Mariusz Wlazły, and Michał Winiarski who shined in 2014. Although the team is currently ranked third in the world, behind only Brazil and the USA, it finished last year’s EuroVolley in 10th place, and failed to medal in every World League since their WCH title. Things looked very bright in this year’s VNL, with the team storming to a 10-0 record, but it ultimately finished in 5th place.
It’s hard to doubt the effectiveness of Vital Heynen’s coaching methods. The young coach is known for extracting the best out of every one that has ever played for him. That is how he took teams such as the German national squad and Bundesliga’s Friedrichshafen to unprecedented success. Still, the Polish players weren’t expecting such rigorous training. However, we have now discovered that he has a very soft side, gifting players who do well in practice with cakes and cookies:
“You have to work hard for results. That is why we must be ready for tough training right away. The coach said that there would have a preparatory period, but most of us had a different concept of “preparatory.” It’s tough. The coach has awarded prizes for the best players defense. During each training session, the statisticians are observing from this angle, and finally the winner gets cookies.” – David Konarski
“We really need to improve our blocking and defense. If such games and a symbolic little cake or cookies will make them more involved, why not? There are points for perfect defense, but also a negative rating if you lose an easy ball. I can see that after the training, each of them is curious about their statistics and they are thinking about working on it.” Coach Vital Heynen
Now, who wouldn’t want to play for a coach like that?