Ali Wood Lamberson (00:00:00):
I think we learned through trial and error that it's really, I think a mix is the best thing, especially as they're younger, because younger kids, girls, especially they're gonna, they wanna play with their friend. They wanna play with a buddy. And I, I believe that there has to be a little bit of common ground between them, but as they get older and it becomes more of a profession or a sport, something we're doing, then they start thinking, oh, I wanna win. And if this person's my friend, but I'm not gonna win with them, maybe I need to go in a different direction. So I think having that head coach, you know, I think Jose Loyola's in that, that role now I think for him, you know, communicating with the athletes and just sitting down and, and saying, I mean, this is what we started doing later in the process is we, you know, get our top eight kids and then say, all right, if you were selected to go internationally, tell us your top three and who are they? Oh, and why. And then we take that into a CA. And is there anyone that you will not play with? And that's actually something that I've done at every college I've been at too, is like, let's hear cuz we can write on paper what our best lineup is. But if they really don't wanna play with someone and they're not gonna work for that person, then it's not the best lineup
Mark Burik (00:01:11):
It's Mark Burik here at better at beach, we collect and distribute tools, courses, events, everything that you can imagine to help you get better at beach volleyball. Currently we are running a 21 day athletic foundation's challenge that I am in desperate need of. So essentially I took, uh, my 18 days, I bet a broken foot for eight weeks and I needed the fastest protocol I could come up with for weight training playing, uh, getting my diet on point so that I could make a comeback in three weeks for a very important tournament for me, the Potstown rumble. So all of our online members right now are going through our 21 day challenge where we give them all of the workouts, all of the beach, volleyball practice plans and some dietary challenges so that they can get themselves back to fitness in a three week window. If you ever wanna join that, you are more than welcome.
Just head over to betteratbeach.com. And if you wanna become a full-fledged member and get some online coaching from our staff, you're more than welcome. We also have camps coming up in the fall and winter. And if you're listening to this live, we are releasing the dates this week. And I am confident that they will all sell out in less than a week. Very confident in that. So make sure you're on our email list to keep track today on our podcast, we get to talk to a awesome friend of mine and she has a storied career calls herself a a triathlete because, uh, off camera, she said, she's been a player. She's been a coach and she's been an administrator. So I'm going to read through her rap sheet here and then introduce her from 2001 to 2005. She was the head coach at NCAA division to Cal state Dominguez Hills where they run their first ever regional ranking.
In 2004, she's been involved with indoor club volleyball as a coach and a consultant for south bay volleyball club. And she was the founder and the head coach of starlings LA west from 91 to 2005. She played on the AVP, the F I V B the BVA, the w P V a all sorts of pro beach tours. And in 2007, she started since 2007. She started teaching and developing the curriculum for USA volleyball's beach coaching accreditation courses, which I took. So she is my teacher, my mentor for coaching volleyball. And she is leading the way for USA in terms of beach volleyball, in terms of organization, coaching players, she's done it all she coached at USC. She is the, has been the USA under 17 beach national team. I could go on and on about her accolades and career, but I'd just rather talk to her. So without further ado, Ali Wood, Lamberson welcome to the show and thanks for coming on.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:04:11):
Thanks mark. Thanks for having me.
Mark Burik (00:04:13):
Absolutely. What do you make of such a long storied career? You've done it all, you know, you played in college. I think you played overseas in Germany. If I, if I'm not wrong and you've seen every side of the sport. So I'll ask you a tough question to start. Okay. Are you still in love with beach volleyball?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:04:36):
I am. I am. And every time I think, oh gosh, maybe it's time to have a, you know, a career shift or something. I think, well, what the heck would I wanna do? This is great. I'm on the beach. I'm, you know, playing sports. I still go out and play was at my Monday night Queens group last night with a bunch of old ladies. So, you know, I, I, I'm still in love with this sport and there's still so much to learn
Mark Burik (00:04:55):
When you made the transition from player. Well, you're still a player, but when you're towards the end of your pro career, and then you were thinking, I guess you're fully thinking full time coach. Now I'm gonna move into this. Was that a, a hard transition between playing and then just going straight to coaching or were you coaching kind of on the side, like a lot of pros or doing currently, and then it was just in, in easy shift where you found yourself with more time.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:05:21):
Gosh, that's a, a loaded question. I was my last few years on tour. I was also a division two indoor coach coaching, NC two, a team and teaching in their master's first getting my master's then teaching in the master's program at Dominguez Hills. So, wow. I was kind of already juggling a lot. And then what happened was a job opened up at SAV and they had never really had a full-time beach staff person there. And as a player, having played as a USA athlete, you know, we always thought, gosh, we wish we had someone that stood up for us and knew what we needed. And I remember, I think it was Dan Lee Corso. One of my partners said, Hey, you'd be perfect for this job. And I thought, what me I'm still gonna play. And so that was kind of how it happened. I was kind of set, I think that was 2006.
I was set to play with Ashley Ivy that year, and then this job opportunity came along and I went, oh gosh, okay, well I need to take this. And then of course it was, well, can I still play AVP if I don't play F I V B and that wasn't gonna work, cuz I'd be, you know, making funding decisions for athletes I'm playing against. It was just a little awkward. Ah, so my transition path was, I said, okay, fine. I'll take this big project on with S a and I'll play on the EVP for a while. So I even played on the little EVP tour. So that was kind of my path to ease myself into retirement as an athlete.
Mark Burik (00:06:40):
Were you ready to stop playing at that time? You know, because you, you had that pull to still play, but then maybe for the first time you were considering like a, an actual full-time job cuz coaching for a full season at, at D two that might not, I don't know, but it might not have been full time, money or hours.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:07:04):
Yeah. I mean, I think I was ready to, gosh, I don't know. I remember, you know, I think I was like 37 or 38, 3 knee surgeries in oh wow. And I remember Dan Lee saying to me, cuz she was one of my former partners and she had already retired she's a couple years younger than I am. And she said, you know, everyone always wants that one last great year, but no one really gets it. And I'm like, oh, that's a good point. And then I was talking to my dad who was a mentor of mine and, and he said, you know, maybe the impact that you're gonna leave on this sport, isn't gonna be on the sand. I went, oh, okay. So I think that kind of helped me with my readiness. Um, you know, still sometimes I'd be at events going, oh my God, I could beat these qualifier girls. So, and it was hard to, you know, it's hard to walk away from points and a main, you know, you're in the main draw, but it was, it was time. It was a good time for me. Nice.
Mark Burik (00:07:52):
Well, when you were playing and you essentially got into the main draw that's to get back a few more years, was there an absolute turning point that turned you on where you like, yes, I'm a pro or was there a struggle period that got you from either qualifier status or just straight outta college into, well now I'm a pro and now I'm, uh, now I'm internationally prepared. Did you ever feel one of those like triggers?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:08:22):
You know, for me it was, I think I might one of my own hardest critics, so it wasn't like, oh, I think I'm so great. I'm in the main draw now it was a lot different back in the day. So qualifying, you had to have a pet, you know, a pedigree just to get into the qualifier and it was one match and you know that my first year I just played a couple qualifiers, got my butt kicked. I think I got in once or twice, but then the next year it was in and I just held on from there. So it was 16 years not, I think I had to qualify one time in that time. That doesn't mean I didn't have to go back to the F I V B and just slug through all of, of those when we used to play the country quota after the qualifier. So six matches in the qu and then a country quota at the end.
Mark Burik (00:09:01):
Oh, what? I don't remember that.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:09:03):
Yeah, it was crazy. It was really, really a neat experience in a way, cuz like that was, I was playing with first Krista B Chris hall and then Dan Lee Corso at that time. And we had so many international matches under our belt because you would go and play the quality as a, sometimes a double, sometimes a single elimination tournament. Then if you made it through to the final four or eight teams that qualified, but there were more us teams that could get in, then we would play off against each other. So I remember one time in Portugal, we played a two day tournament before the tournament where we played 11 matches. We had to play Masai and did nitche three times cuz we came through the winners, they beat us. So that made us even then we beat them and it was just, it was crazy. So I think um,
Mark Burik (00:09:46):
Oh my goodness. Yeah.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:09:47):
Mark Burik (00:09:48):
Was it. Wasn't still, was it still side out scoring at that time? Good
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:09:52):
Mark Burik (00:09:53):
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:09:53):
I think by then it was
Mark Burik (00:09:55):
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:09:55):
Score I think, but we played
Mark Burik (00:09:57):
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:09:59):
Yeah. There was one time where we finished the quality at 9:00 PM in Portugal and Portugal's everyone says Hermosa is the deepest sand. Portugal has the deepest sand in the world. And we had played like nine matches in two days and we are just exhausted lying in the sand. I remember thinking, thank God, we're not the team that got in cuz we wouldn't be able to walk. You know yeah. Those were interesting days. I mean being at the, the beginning days of the F I B was really fun, you know, to see them now and they get to play in great cities and it's so much more organized. I'm like, wow, how far it's come? Because we were really out there, you know, playing some crazy places under crazy circumstances.
Mark Burik (00:10:39):
Could you share one of those circumstances? So could you pick out one from your top three sketchiest experiences where you said is this international professional ball is like, do you have a good one? Yeah.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:10:55):
I mean, I think the, the roughest one I ever did was before the F I V B even really started much of a tour, at least on the women's side mm-hmm here. I was a young, you know, two, three years into my pro career and there was an offer to go to China to do these exhibition events and all the top girls, you know, the, the Hollys and the Carolyn Kirbys were like, not me, not me. So my partner Christie, and I said, sure, we'll go to China for two weeks. And this is before people were really going to China a lot. And it, I mean, it was 13 hour bus rides over unpaid roads and cars breaking down and stands that were made out of bamboo and fans. That just, I mean, it was crazy. I remember having to use the restroom between matches and it was just like a, a tarp and like men and women in there at the same time, I'm like, oh my God, you've gotta be kidding me.
Now when I'm at a tournament, I see a porta potty. I'm like, this is no problem um, so yeah, we had, that was a really, really rough trip. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It was such a great experience. But at the time that was pretty rough. We were in Mexico one time, I think it was Acapulco. And you know, you never let the bosses run the show. And it was one of those events where they didn't have a technical director for the event. So the head guy from the F I B was running the whole thing and he didn't quite know how to run it. So I talked about the country quotas a minute ago, so he put us through this tournament and then I think we had four Brazil and four us left to playoff for one space, Brazil one. And he mixed us together. So he didn't know that us should then play their own country quota and Brazil their own. And we're all, you know, yelling at him and you've gotta be kidding me. And we're trying to get ed drayage on the phone so he can explain it to the guy. And it just was a mess. And of course I cramped and had to have two IV bags and yeah. So those were some of the crazy early days. Yeah.
Mark Burik (00:12:43):
Some of those crazy days are still still here. I mean, with the, I mean, it's not like one stars, but essentially they're one stars. The NOAA tour is still very much like that.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:12:54):
Oh yeah. It's
Mark Burik (00:12:56):
I'm not saying it's nightmarish, but it is good adversity training. Like, and luckily it just kind of happens in really cool places. Yeah. So as mad as you can get it, the disorganization, no buses anywhere, no pickup at the airport courts made of rocks, then you kinda look to the left and you're like, yeah, but there's the sun sitting over, you know, the Caribbean sea. And it's like, all right, you know, I'll take some of this
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:13:23):
And I'm playing beach volleyball.
Mark Burik (00:13:25):
Right. I mean, with a bunch of cool people from, from cool countries and you, you get that experience that you just can't get anywhere else. I mean, even when you go on vacation, like the typical adult vacation, I guess all you do is kind of hang out with other Americans who are also on vacation instead of learning, hanging, trying to interpret languages. I do, I guess I'm like, yeah, I love that I've gotten to travel. Not necessarily it's on my dime, you know, but like volleyball has created some really cool opportunities from that.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:13:58):
Yeah. I think I look at, you know, my Facebook and all the friends that I have and, you know, people from all over the world that I've played, you know, some that I've known since college where we would play in exchanges or, or whatever. But mainly that I met through the F I V B tour and, you know, dear friends that were at my wedding. And, and it's just so neat to have that international friend group that, you know, we can maybe not talk for 10 years, but we've shared the same experience. And when we get together, it's like, you know, we need to have some sort of a reunion, but the cost would be so huge to get everyone, you know, across the country and across the world and have a little F I V B reunion.
Mark Burik (00:14:34):
Yeah. I think it's so special that, so something I always say is, you know, I get to meet brothers that I never knew I had just because when you meet another volleyball player, you know, already that they've already gone through some of the same things, some of the same emotions, mistakes fixes with techniques. So, you know, at least like for a while, you definitely walked the same path, right. As soon as you meet them. And that forms that, that little bond right away,
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:15:01):
It was really special from that view. Cuz when I started on the women's tour, it was pretty cutthroat and people weren't really there on the w PVA a, they weren't there to give you a leg up, no one would play with a rookie. It wasn't, it was hard to forge those kind of friendships. So I think getting to the F I B, then it was no threat. You know, there's no threat that the Canadian girl's gonna try to take my partner she's from Canada. And so that really allowed us to create some really good friendships that, that went beyond borders and outside of the whole, what was going on in our women's tour, back at home, which eventually got kinder and gentler and, and more fun to be on because of, I think the exposure that everyone had on the F I V B.
Mark Burik (00:15:44):
So would you say that, uh, today is less cutthroat than when you started?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:15:48):
Oh God. Yeah.
Mark Burik (00:15:50):
And specifically what way
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:15:51):
No one would ever play or train with a rookie ever. Like they didn't want anyone. They wanted like a kind of a closed tour. They wouldn't talk to you not, and not all the girls, some of them were really nice, but there were some that were pretty brutal and yeah, it was a little rough. And you know, you would always hear the stories of 10 minutes before we had to call an answering machine. That's how long ago this was. So to sign up for the tournament, you leave it, hi, this is Allie wood and I'm gonna be playing with Dan Lee Corso. And she had Laval had to get a message from each of us saying that we were playing together. Right. And you would get a phone call. That's
Mark Burik (00:16:26):
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:16:27):
Yeah. 10 minutes before you get a message on your machine saying, oh, I decided I'm playing with someone else. And you're like, but I have 10 minutes to decide, you know, like I have to find a partner in 10 minutes. So that was, there was a lot of that happening. Oh yeah. So I mean I ended up once or
Mark Burik (00:16:42):
Twice. So someone like would snake would be like, yeah, we're playing together and then call the answering machine with another partner. Yeah. Oh yeah. That's snakey.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:16:51):
Yeah. It was pretty sta and it wasn't everyone, but there were a few people out there doing stuff like that. And it was just
Mark Burik (00:16:56):
Like, I've heard of that once. Yeah. Here where somebody was ready to play on Saturday and found out on Thursday night that, uh, the person they were going to sign up with had signed up with somebody else. I've heard of that once in, I guess it's 16 years now. And I was like, you know, I don't look at that guy the same way anymore. I don't know. Yeah. That's dirty.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:17:16):
I had one where I, we took a fourth at an event here at home. It was pretty good finish. Right. And then I was going with another partner to play overseas and the partner with whom I took the fourth with waited till she knew I was on an airplane to Italy to call my answering machine and dump me for the next tournament. Yeah. So like, and it was all a points thing. It wasn't because you know, of any way that we played, she thought she could get into another tournament, which ultimately she didn't even get into. So, you know, I think we all learned a lot from that and hopefully we're all teaching this next generation how to treat each other a little bit better.
Mark Burik (00:17:52):
Yeah. The points game is still, it's still very, very real. And, and I, oh yeah. Don't think humans have gotten any better at breaking up with each other. yeah. Darn it. The last 30 years. But yeah, there there's some guys that I know that kind of do it the way or you call and you say all this, some of them kind of snake out with a, with a little text and some of them you just never hear from, so you assume, or you heard from somebody else that they're, they don't wanna play with you anymore. Yeah. You know, it's, it's still going on.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:18:20):
Yeah. But it's funny. I, um, when I was at Dominguez Hills coaching, that's the D two school and still playing my master, I got, was a negotiation in conflict management and it was, and then I taught that I taught a conflict management for sport class and it was so interesting
Mark Burik (00:18:36):
To then great. Still to have, I wanna take that class
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:18:38):
Yeah. To take a step back and look at how everyone kind of managed conflict in their life. And it was really interesting to be doing what I was doing professionally and going through that education and kind of seeing how people are and understanding myself a lot more. Like I understood, I now have a much better understanding what for how I was handling conflict at the time and how that wasn't really helping me cuz I'd be the one, you know, I was an accommodator I'd say, okay, no, you know, it's my bad, my fault, all this stuff. And then, you know, the Accor finally gets, feels like they've been walked on and they're gonna lose end up throwing sand at your partner. Then you look like the bad guy. Or so it was really interesting going through that. And it helped me kind of figure out some partner relationships. And I use that every day in coaching and training and marriage. And
Mark Burik (00:19:23):
What's one specific thing that you, that you think you picked up from that class that you saw just so consistently in beach volleyball cuz the, the relationship and the mindset, are it kind of still, I don't know, they have like, not a mystique, but people want to know how to handle their relationships better or if they're doing it right or how do I make someone better or should I even be playing with a certain personality? So was there anything specifically that you took from that class that you saw in beach volleyball? What needed to happen more or what was happening too much?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:19:59):
Well, I think, uh, it's, you know, understanding how you manage conflict and there's a great diagram that they have in conflict management. I can't remember the name of it, but it's a quadrant and it talks about how, where you place your needs versus where you place the other person's needs. Okay. So if I'm someone that puts my needs ahead of your needs, that I'm sort of that high conflict warrior type personality. And if I'm someone who places other people's needs above mine, I'm more that accommodator. And so as an accommodator, I would kind of, I don't know if I'm meant to do it, but I would be seeking out these warrior types and that can kind of clash because as I said before, the commentator gives and gives and gives, but at some point they want a little acknowledgement and so then they get frustrated and then the warrior type is saying, well, why is this suddenly a problem now?
Because you've always just done everything, you know? And, and so I think just, just understanding that and getting a feel for how do we get to collaboration? You know, I, the St the next step is cooperation and then collaboration, where both of our goals can kind of me meld together. And, you know, it's hard when you're looking over your back, hoping that you're not gonna get dumped by someone. And, you know, I think just, I think communication and trust, and again, trust, we studied that a lot too. It's like consistency of action over a period of time builds either trust or distrust or trust that you'll do something not good, you know, so there's all different kinds of trust. So those are sort of some of the topics that we talked about and learned, and it kind of helped me in my career both as an athlete, but then certainly as an administrator and hugely as a coach,
Mark Burik (00:21:34):
Do you think that, and because there are such relationship problems, are you of the school that the federations should choose teams, that there should be a team or a person in charge of what teams should be competing together? Or do you like the us system where we make every choice for ourselves and USA just goes, okay, go ahead. Let's see how you do.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:21:59):
Yeah, I think that's interesting because when we started, I started the high performance program and the junior national team years ago, I think 2009 was the first year that we did that. And, you know, I actually hired one of my old partners back to Dan Lee to be the head coach. And I was the director of the program and we thought, well, we know everything. So , we're just gonna put these kids together and they're gonna be great. And of course, we put these two girls together that didn't really like each other very much and turns out their parents really didn't like each other. And so, so, uh, they ended up playing pretty well together, but I think we learned through trial and error that it's really, I think a mix is the best thing, especially as they're younger, because younger kids, girls, especially they're gonna, they wanna play with a friend.
They wanna play with a buddy. And I, I believe that there has to be a little bit of common ground between them, but as they get older and it becomes more of a profession or a sport, something we're doing, then they start thinking, oh, I wanna win. And if this person's my friend, but I'm not gonna win with them, maybe I need to go in a different direction. So I think having that head coach, you know, I think Jose Loyola's in that, that role now, I think for him, you know, communicating with the athletes and just sitting down and, and saying, and this is what we started doing later in the process is we, you know, get our top eight kids and then say, all right, if you were selected to go internationally, tell us your top three and who are they? Oh, and why. And then we take that into a CA. And is there anyone that you will not play with? And that's actually something that I've done at every college I've been at too, is like, let's hear cuz we can write on paper what our best lineup is. But if they really don't wanna play with someone they're not gonna work for that person, then it's not the best lineup. So I think talking to Beth van fleet at Georgia state, she was really
The first coach that was talking about, Hey, let's have them draft not only who they wanna play with, but let's make each player, draft a lineup for the team and see how close they are to where we are. And I think that they've,
Mark Burik (00:23:55):
I love that we used to do that for indoor setter. Yeah. Like choose your starting lineup. Who do you think? Yeah. I, I did that for club juniors and, and our college coach did that for our setters specifically. Nice. And he said like, who's your starting lineup, you know? And we had that like old school playground stuff where it actually put me in my place as an incoming junior, I thought I was way better than somebody. And they lined you up and they said, pick your team. And when I got picked, close to last, I was like, what,
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:24:24):
Mark Burik (00:24:25):
First time ever in my life, you're in a D one program for the first time now you're like picked last. And I was like, even behind those guys. Yeah. All right. I guess I got some proving to do, you know, but that, to me, I took that as a very good thing. Like I was like, huh, all right. That I took that as a motivator.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:24:41):
So it's a whole growth mindset piece. Yeah. I always like to draft my indoor lineup from the NBA. Like what if these guys all quit basketball and decided to come play volleyball? My husband and I always sit down and like draft our lineups and put 'em against each other
Mark Burik (00:24:56):
Who you got, come on, share it.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:24:58):
Uh, well of course step cuz he played, we haven't, he
Mark Burik (00:25:01):
Said or hit outside.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:25:02):
Mark Burik (00:25:02):
That what he said or hit outside?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:25:04):
I think he'd probably hit outside. Yeah. We had Dwight Howard in the middle, but now I'm like, ah, he is old and broken and back in the day I had Garnet as an opposite. We haven't done it in a lot of years, so we have to, oh man, go back and rethink
Mark Burik (00:25:17):
We, this is a perfect Instagram post for us. Oh yeah. They your dream. Oh man.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:25:23):
And maybe we should do it from like women's track as well or another big women's sport cuz there's some monster athletes on track right now.
Mark Burik (00:25:31):
Oh man. Yeah. All right. Nice. Thank you for the content idea.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:25:34):
great. There you go.
Mark Burik (00:25:36):
There you go. So as somebody who's coached at all of these levels and is now kind of, you know, still steering, uh, the national and international conversation, what do you think coaches are missing across the board?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:25:50):
Oh goodness. I think the coaches out there are doing such a, an amazing job moving the sport forward. One of the reasons I love it's, I've kind of shifted into an assistant role at USA and I'll, and it's been so fun because I've assisted fuller and I've assisted. I just recently assisted Kristen bat and I learned so much working with these guys. I had Derek, um, last summer and just he's great. I know just learning so much from all these different coaches has been really great. So I think that everyone's doing a great job there. I think the hard piece is that in, I see someone mark Zen put up a question about it, but that whole conflict management and getting them to work together well, that, that people part, because that's really hard as coaches, we know the Xs and OS, but we might not know the psychology of how to get people to work well with each other. And how do we motivate them? And you know, how do we get the kids to have a growth mindset and be intrinsically motivated? And I think that's the biggest piece that we're still learning and working on.
Mark Burik (00:26:53):
I completely agree the, the emotional and leadership qualities and developing culture. Yeah. Literally anyone can teach you how to put your hands together, pass and how to square up to your target and set, you know, that's, it's easy to see, but it's the intangibles that you can't physically see and demonstrate that people struggle, struggle with in a big way. Are there any quick answers that you have, like the tips that you, that you find yourself giving the most?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:27:25):
I think, I mean, I think the number one thing is, you know, I go back to my coaching philosophy and it's all about trust and communication and you gotta get that stuff. Ally. I, the team I coached at, I was at Marymount, California. This last year, we had nine freshmen and three COVID freshmen. So all and most of them new to the beach. So all new players and we just started doing a trust circle whenever there was BS, you know, going on with the team, we just sit down and say, forget practice. We're gonna sit down and, and work through some of this stuff and, and talk. And, and you know, we just had that whole, nothing leaves the circle. We're gonna talk about it. And they could say whatever they wanted to a partner or a person. I mean, they had to be somewhat respectful, but just, I think people forget to work through some of that stuff.
And when we don't hear it, we don't say it. We start assuming something else on the other person's part. And so that starts going our head, well, what does she mean by that? And what is she thinking? And then that's where the conflict just blows up. So I think, you know, ignoring that stuff is it's only gonna get worse. So just kind of hitting it head on and no one, no one loves like, well, I mean, some people do, but how many people wake up and go like, gosh, I really wanna talk to mark today about that really uncomfortable issue that we're both skirting. No one feels that way. Yeah. But to really sit down and hit on the head like afterwards, you're like, oh my goodness. It was to the point this year where I'd say circle up and the girls would say, you're not gonna make us all cry again. Are you? I'm like, no, no, that's not what it's about. But you know, we had some really breakthrough moments and then, then some leaders started to arise and the trust and the commonalities between the athletes started to develop. And so I think, I think that kind of thing is important.
Mark Burik (00:29:06):
How do you facilitate that specifically? So when, when you get them into a circle and you're like, Hey, there's stuff we need to talk about on the team. Do you say, mention your first something you hate right now? Or do you give like, Hey, everybody has to present a sandwich. Do you have a totem that you pass around? So if you were to teach this to me and I had my club team right now and you needed to tell me exactly what you did and how to do it, how would you do that?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:29:33):
I would give you a couple different examples, so, okay. You know, if it, if it there's not a specific conflict, then I'd just start with some team bonding things. Maybe there's like, we were very divided into this year into the party girls and the not party girls . So we came up with a team bonding thing where they all had to participate together or they weren't gonna be able to complete it. They physically had to do stuff together. What
Mark Burik (00:29:56):
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:29:57):
Um, so we do this thing where they all, they don't know what's coming, they all take, if, if it's indoor, they take a knee PADD if it's beach, they take a flip flop and they put their heels on the sideliner end line and they lie down. So their head is off the court. Okay.
And underneath their head is the knee PADD or the shoe. And they just, we give 'em a moment to like, you know, I'll talk 'em through a guided meditation and just talk about, you know, goals and seeing the goal out there. And what is it that you're reaching for and how are you gonna get there? And we give them some time, then we say, okay, open your eyes, leave your, your item, whether it's a shoe or knee, PADD where it is. And come onto the court, say, come onto the court. And I said, you, now that knee is your, or that flip flop, that's your goal. You can't leave the court. You can't touch any of the sand outside the court, how you're gonna get it. And what they'll quickly realize after, you know, trying to reach and do all these things is that they have to use the group as a whole.
And they have to kind of come together and talk it through and use the group as a whole to lower the person. And if they each have it behind their head, then it should be something that they can reach with help. You know, the short girls is gonna be a little bit closer and the little tall girls will be a little further. And it's a real good trust moment, cuz they'll fall down and they'll fail a couple times and they'll say, Hey, you come over here and I really need you to support me and grab my legs. And it's just kind of a fun one. I think it's on our, there's a video of us doing it on the MCU Instagram, cuz we did that with that. I do it with every national team group now the secrets out. So the kids know it's coming. Cool.
Mark Burik (00:31:32):
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:31:33):
Um, but yeah, that's a good one just to get them working together, you know, we did the stuff where you reach across and hands and then they have to untangle themselves and stuff like that. Um, you
Mark Burik (00:31:43):
Think those, you think those are, are truly, truly valuable. You know, I always looked at them as like, yeah, we get to laugh together. Yeah. We get to understand each other and, and fight outside of volleyball. Cuz sometimes volleyball becomes the main stressor. Yeah. Even when it's supposed to be like your outlet and your fun. So I like creating activities. I just wonder how, you know, you see it in movies. Yeah. And you hear people recommend it, but do they really form bonds? They really strengthen teams.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:32:12):
I think so. I mean the feedback's always been pretty good. You have to figure out how much practice you're willing to skip for those kind of things. But I think that, especially for girls, because there's the whole girls have to bond to battle where guys battle to bond.
Mark Burik (00:32:25):
I could you, uh, I I've said that exactly. a few times on the podcast, but could you explain what you mean by that? Uh, cause this is in the SAV coaching book, right?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:32:36):
Well, yeah. And Kathy devour wrote a really good book about it, but it's just that the way that the general female psyche is is that we have to kind of be friends and bond together before we're gonna fight for each other before we're gonna battle and put ourself on the line where guys create that bond through the battle. So they'll get out there and because we have the same uniform on, we're gonna battle and then through that action, we're gonna bond. So it's just a kind of a diff and I mean, these are generalizations. Sure. I remember the first time I heard that I was like, I'll battle with whoever, but yeah. You know, but then you step back and you're like, oh yeah, okay. That kind of does exemplify the experience I've had as a female athlete. So just creating those opportunities to kind of connect with, with each other. We did another fun one. We did this going into the three or four years ago. We had the, it was like three international events with the U 19. So it was the Norca qualifier, the U 19 world championships and the youth Olympic games all in one summer. So it was pretty big summer for these kids. So we set up an obstacle course and then blindfolded one partner and the other one had to talk the other partner through it.
Mark Burik (00:33:42):
I used to play Tets like that with my brothers well,
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:33:44):
Yeah, it was so good. And I mean, the girls that I had on the team and the guys that year were just, they were so awesome and they just embraced everything and there wasn't any conflict they all got along. But that was really, I mean, but that was, that was a superior group of kids that was, you know, that's cool, new Newberry, Lindsey sparks and the nurses and it's what a fun group, but we had so much fun doing stuff like that. And I think it really kind of just opened up that bonding to battle piece for them.
Mark Burik (00:34:10):
Do you think that pro teams should be embracing some of these, you know, how the AVP is? You know, there's partners constantly shifting, constantly leaving lots of ego and, and then money on the line. But do you think that those teams would benefit from, you know, Hey, we're, we're playing, uh, a tournament in two weeks. It'll be our first time together. We should go through these team building exercises.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:34:34):
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. If you ever listen to either NA cook or carry pot horse, talk about their road to the Olympics. And
Mark Burik (00:34:42):
I love that
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:34:43):
None of us thought they were gonna win Olympic gold. We thought, okay, bronze, silver, you know, and they would dream it gold. And I think NA had a gold toaster and I mean, they just had this mindset that they put together and they didn't always like each other. I mean they had split up and then gotten back together and mm-hmm, just to see them go through that and what they did with their coach, Steve Anderson and their whole crew was just amazing. And to see them come out the other end with they, they manifested what they said they were gonna do. And I mean, there's so many things that go into winning a gold medal. It's also how the other guy plays and your drawing. But I mean, they're, that's one where they just really put the work in it and it look at what it did for them. And, and now they both have brilliant public speaking, um, careers and doing some really neat things cuz of, I think not just what they did on the court, but the stuff that they did off the court.
Mark Burik (00:35:33):
Mm yeah, we had, uh, we had carry on two or three times cuz I met her while I was playing on the Australian tour and yeah. Even then even for a 10 minute meeting for the first time she like somehow was inspirational. Like in that moment, you know, I was like, I, I had just played and I was like, you know, I'm just gonna go get one beer. So I come back tomorrow, like get rid of cramps, get some electrolytes in. And she's like, but mark, why? She's like, what if, what if that one bear is the one point she's like, what if, what if you leave that on the table? And I was like, all
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:36:06):
Mark Burik (00:36:07):
I won't like, let's go. I mean, I know it's $300 on the line for a first place in Australia, but yeah,
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:36:14):
Yeah. She's great. I got to play two tournaments with her. Oh and what a, what a fun time. I realized quickly that I was a terrible transition setter because I hadn't had a partner that dug everything here. She's six foot, one used to blocking and she's running around behind me digging everything. I'm like, oh my God, I have to turn around and set. But we ended up taking a fourth or a third and, and Hermosa open and just having so much fun playing together. And then we won a little silly tournament up in Toronto a couple weeks later. So that was, that was a pretty cool summer.
Mark Burik (00:36:45):
Hey, what, when you're talking to the international kids, uh, U nineteens, U seventeens, what's their focus? What do you, when they come to you and they're already performing at a high level for their age group, how much can you give them in that short period of time? And, and what is the focus when you're their coach for, you know, a two week period or a four week period? How do you handle that?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:37:08):
Think the way I always handle it both as a director at us. And then as a head coach with the, uh, did the seventeens and the nineteens is really just preparing them for what it's going to be like, cuz they have no idea. And I think now with the internet, they can watch F I B they kind of have a familiarity. Some of these kids are already coming to us. You know, I think of a Tim Brewster who probably knows every player on the F I B and everything about them. So they're coming with that bit of knowledge that maybe 10 years ago the kids didn't have, but you know how this is no one can tell you what it's like to play with USA on your back in 95 degree heat with a hostile crowd and weird food like that. Those are the things you don't
Mark Burik (00:37:48):
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:37:49):
Weird food when you're super jet lagged. And so just preparing them like I remember when we did the U seventeens, I mean, we always try to get the kids down to Chula for that training camp. I, and I think that was such a, a great thing that we did and I hope that they can continue to do that is getting those kids down there for four to eight days. And before we would travel and talking about how what's our jet lag, preparedness strategy, you know, teaching them how to shift their calendar. So their, their, their sleep schedule. So they're prepared for, you know, they're not as jetlagged. We would do a whole SWAT analysis. So strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and talk about, you know, what are the things that we have in our favor that are gonna support us as a team and what things are, where are we weak?
And then, then where, you know, what's, what are the opportunities? Where is the other guy weak and what, where are the threats? Where are they strong? And we'd sit down there as a group, you know, eight athletes or four athletes, depending on how many we got to travel that time and talk through some of those things. So when they happened, it wasn't like, oh my God, what's happening. It's like, oh yeah, Allie said the food's gonna be really weird or the Gatorade's gonna taste different. And our dietician said that this was gonna happen. And I have earplugs so that when the hotel gets loud at night and I brought my own pillow and all the things that they wouldn't really maybe have thought about because they're so nurtured here when they play at home,
Mark Burik (00:39:11):
Do you think there would be any value in ? I did this to a couple teams called it adversity training. I would intentionally set traps, you know, I like, I would make things go wrong. Like, uh, I would just tell the team like, no, the lights won't turn on and I would make them wait for 10 minutes, you know, sitting there and be like, okay, we have to play right now. We don't have time to warm up. We have to play right now, you know? So I'd create little environments and then talk about it after practice, how did we react? What are we gonna do if that's what happens, you know, for, for a match. Do you think there's value in just talking about it or is there value in actually creating some sort of weird stressor, uh, for coaches who are trying to put their kids through it?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:39:54):
Oh yeah. A state dependent training, you know, it's a, a key, a key component of motor learning, a state dependent training. Right. You wanna train in the state that you're gonna be exposed to. So we've done things where we, we got a bunch of, I don't remember what we promised though. We were, we were training down at Cohasset in San Diego. This is in the early days. And we had Stafford slick and mark Meck vans, Wheaton. And I, I don't
Mark Burik (00:40:16):
Remember, they knocked me out of the U 26.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:40:20):
Oh, sorry. Well, anyhow, we were getting ready for that, that event. Oh, was that when you were with Hudson? Yep.
Mark Burik (00:40:25):
Oh, we lost them in New York and that was the, like my hometown lost that match and that would've sent us to
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:40:30):
Be with you. You guys do so anyhow, we were preparing for that event. You didn't get to go to and, uh,
Mark Burik (00:40:35):
Not a sore topic at all.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:40:36):
yeah. And I think we just asked a bunch of people on the beach, like, Hey, we're at Cohasset in San Diego. Cause that's before we had quartz at Shula, like, Hey, will you just come and like cheer against these guys and cheer, you know, be really loud. And so we had like homeless guys yelling at staff, which actually worked out really well because when we got to, uh, Turkey, they had to play Turkey. And there was some incident between the Turkish team and there was words under the thing. And the next thing, you know, the crowd just turned totally hostile and to where they threw garbage at the guys at the end of the match. And so I thought, well, okay, we got 'em somewhat prepared for that. Or we were down at Chile Vista with the U seventeens and I, my assistant at the time was Rico Gamar I don't know if you Rico. Yeah.
Mark Burik (00:41:19):
Yeah. I coached with him. Rico
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:41:20):
Mark Burik (00:41:21):
Like collegiate team. He was, I
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:41:22):
Was the assistant, he was billion drum and his Venezuela and he, we just run around the court. He would jog the entire time we were playing matches and just beat the drum and yell at the guys while I'm up on the ref stand, just reffing, terribly, just like anything we, and it's, there's some fun in it. Yeah. But just to get them prepared for like, it's gonna, this is gonna happen to you and how are you gonna handle it? Yeah. You know, so yeah, I think all of that, that stuff, you know, to where, I mean, I was just talking to someone the other day when we would, as a player, when we would play in Brazil, I'd always go to bay club at spectrum club back at the time and go into the steam room and I would jog in the steam room and people would look at me like I was insane, but just to get used to that feeling of like oppressive heat. And of course you can't keep that up very long. You're gonna pass out, uh, just to kind of prepare for what's it, what is it gonna be like to be in super oppressive, humid, you know, hot environment and have to get up and be physical in that environment. So for you, yeah. Any little tactics that I think they can employ are gonna help them to say, okay, wait, I was, I've been here before. I know what this is like.
Mark Burik (00:42:29):
Yeah. I like that. Yeah. We got, we had batteries and pennies threw at us on, uh, on some courts in Puerto Rico. It was like, yeah. Nice. There's some interesting times. Yeah. And I, I like a little bit of exposure. Like, Hey, it's not gonna be perfect. So here's what it's gonna be like. And you, you kinda laugh at the coaches that do that and like talk friendly smack. And Adam Sandler just had a movie that came out where he is, uh, an agent slash coach and he's talking trash to his player. Oh. But it's, yeah, it's gonna happen. And that's funny that Adam Sandler movie, I saw two days ago, it like he did exactly what we're talking about. All he did was talk smack to this guy,
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:43:03):
Which is great to hear. Cause I feel like all sports movies are so unlike, like they've clearly been made by someone who has never been an athlete, it's like, right. They don't get it, but
Mark Burik (00:43:13):
Yeah. Nice. Well, alright, cool. I'm gonna check through our little questions here. So I'm, I'm gonna ask who you think was the most influential person to your career, both as a player. And then as a coach,
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:43:33):
As a player. When I think of my pro career, I was lucky to play with, to train with like all the greats from pat Zortman was my first coach and Anna Collier and Nina. But I think as a, the coach that I got the most out of that really helped me change my game was Dan Sellick. And, you know, I dunno if you ever train a Dane, but he breaks it down to where you feel like you can't do anything. And then he it's all about footwork and builds you back up. And that, you know, as a former dancer, I danced for nine years as a kid that that footwork piece really spoke to me. So I think that, and then as a player also, I was lucky enough to hook up with a strength coach, about four years into my pro career. I remember being in Kauai, it was like an invitational in Kauai.
And I was playing with Wendy Fletcher. I don't remember who we were playing, but it was like 12, 12 old school scoring at noon. And I felt like my head was on fire. It was so hot. And I thought to myself, I would like to be any place, but here right now. And if someone would just tell me the result later, you know, yes, you won. Yes, you lost, I didn't care. And that I've never not cared about winning or losing, but I was so hot. I was so fatigued. You know, it's the old Vince Lombardi, was it fatigue makes cowards of us all. And that's how I felt. And it was the last tournament season. It was October. I remember thinking I never, ever wanna feel like that again. So there was this guy, Mark Hoffman, we just call him the angry inch. He was a strength coach that was working with a couple of the athletes and, and I just called him up and I said, I wanna be your client. And I was with mark for 11 years and he completely changed my, you know, the way I thought, the way I ate, the way I trained everything about my game and just, you know, not
Mark Burik (00:45:19):
Differently that, I mean, as, as a pro you're already in there, you're already keeping things tight. You know, what did he do? And a, that was so game changing for you.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:45:31):
I think it was first of all, you know, just getting me the, the periodization people. Weren't really there. Weren't a lot of trainers out there that understood beach volleyball yet. So having my plan be periodized and then having it all work together. So my sprint training and my lifting work together and, and it was a lot of experimentation. I remember the first couple years, I, you know, I'm an athlete that puts on muscle pretty easily. So the first few years I was like, remember coming home one day, my boyfriend at the time was like, Hey, I love how hard you're working. This is great, but how big are you gonna get ally? I'm like, why do you ask? But, uh, just kind of figure. And I, and I did, I mean, that's a funny way to describe it, but I did realize I was lifting too heavy at that time. And like, I could jump really high, but we're like, Hey, I'm a little slow footed on defense. So just, just finding that, how do we fine tune it? So I think just having,
Mark Burik (00:46:19):
I know somebody like that who could keep lifting her strength just kept going up and her coach was like, you can go more, you can go more. And she goes, you don't understand, I could lift this easily. She goes, I could lift two times this, but I'm getting slower because of how big I am. Right. And I'm a setter, even though I could be stronger. What more benefit do I have when like, all I need is speed and precision. Right. And so her, her strength, those was kind of off the mark and she was terribly uncomfortable with all of it when she was like, this doesn't make any sense. Yeah. So it's in, it's interesting that you said that like, yeah, even though you're getting bigger and stronger, it might not be helping your game at some point. Right.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:46:58):
Right. So I think, you know, he was able to kind of pivot from that the next year we kind of dialed it back a little bit worked and he, he re have me through two knee surgeries and, you know, did a lot of, you know, when all the partner crap was going on just was a person that I could talk to about it and someone to hold me accountable, cuz I can, you know, be a little lazy little OCD sometimes. And so that, that part was really great. And yeah. So I think mark shout out to him he's, you know, since passed away, but he was just a great, great influence to a lot of, I mean, he was training, both won brothers at the time. And, um, I mean, it seemed like everyone trained with him at some point, but he was just a really pain in the ass, but just a really influential, influential person there. And then I think my career,
Mark Burik (00:47:46):
I just ask one, one question before you go on, cuz I know what went through every one of our listeners' minds right now is, uh, she said strength and sprint training. Mm-hmm yeah. How do you mix your practices with your, with your weight room, with your sprint training? We have a, a 60 day max vertical course and we include all of the agility and explosiveness along with the weight training. And then we do a lot of coaching as far as what days you want to practice and what days you don't. But I wanna hear it from you, how you, you said you were sprinting during certain times of the year and, and not during others or how is your periodization going for them?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:48:23):
So, uh, this is a number of years, so I have to think back to it, but, um, you know, we would start off with that steady state training early on just to get the cardio base and then we would get,
Mark Burik (00:48:32):
What does that mean? Steady
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:48:33):
State training, steady state training for just going out for a run and just getting our heart rate up and building a, a cardio base. And then slowly we'd start adding in things like fart likes, which would be like an interval, you know, where you're sprinting the sidelines and jogging the, the ends or sprint eights where you're doing whatever it is, whether you're on a, a bike or a, in the sand. You're going really hard for 30 seconds with a one and a half to two minute recovery for, yeah, about 20 minutes because that's kind of how our sport is. We go really hard and then we have that recovery time and then we,
Mark Burik (00:49:06):
It was on your practice days or were they on your non-practice days?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:49:10):
Typically? It, it varied a lot. Okay. You know, it varied, like we would cram a lot in Saturday. Cause a lot of us were working. Mark typically had about 10 to 12 athletes. Pro-athletes do his training. So Saturday would be a big day that we would all get together and do our sprint training and then maybe do some volleyball and then go to the gym and lift afterwards. But everyone, yeah, it was kind of spread out. It depended on what phase we were in a lot. Um, and then we do a lot on the Sandhill priests, like getting closer to the season. We do we'd start at the track or on the grass. And then as we got closer to season, then we get more during our ladder drills in the sand during our sprints in the sand. And then we get to that Sandhill. My favorite
Mark Burik (00:49:52):
Were you ever doing the sprint training during season?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:49:56):
Oh, good question. I don't think we really were that much. Okay. I think, I mean, we, we would always do the, some agility and stuff, but I don't think we were doing like full on sprint. Like we weren't on the track at all during, during season. Um, we might have been doing just like the, some really short sprint work in the sand.
Mark Burik (00:50:15):
Sure enough to not fatigue yourself, not gas yourself, but to stay fast. Right. And then build up that base probably more towards the off season or, or preseason. Yep. What advice do you have for current players? Oh, wait you no, no, we, we have to go back to what you're influential most influential as far as coach was.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:50:37):
Oh, that's right. I would say not someone that, that coached me or that I was coached by, but it, when I think of my professional career, as you know, I went, I was coaching division two, but then I went to working at USA volleyball and I, the person who influenced me a lot and taught me a lot was Doug Beal. And I know he's always been controversial cuz some of the guys who played for him were like, ah, it's, you know, so hard or whatever. But as a CEO of USA volleyball, he was the most fair and balanced person. He was, you know, willing to call BS when he needed to and just gave me the support to grow the program. And I still talk to him on a regular basis. He's a great guy. So I think, yeah. And then some of the people that I got to work with throughout the beach coach accreditation program have been amazing, which is now called just beach education through USA volleyball.
They're actually rebooting it, but just getting to talk to the bill NES of the world or the human Hutchins and Sue Zaki and a lot of people that come from that indoor world. And then I find a lot of inspiration from the people that, you know, we've kind of collaborate collaboratively, have grown this sport together. And I just love sitting down with Wayne Holly and, and talking, you know, beach volleyball or John Harron and, and Tyra Turner and just some of the people that I've gotten to work with there. So I think there's been a, you know, a lot of people kind of cohesively influencing each other. It's been really cool.
Mark Burik (00:52:04):
And is you mentioned Wayne and you guys have he formed a company about a year and a half ago, right. Called beach prospects. And then he recruited you.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:52:14):
Yeah. Yeah. So Wayne was at Tulane and then Georgia state and then decided that he didn't want the, you know, he wanted to do something different. So he started beach prospects, which is a beach recruiting consultancy. We don't really call ourselves a service cuz we don't do what a traditional college basketball service would do. What we do is we contract with different kids who are getting recruited or want to, to go through the recruiting process and we help them navigate that process everywhere from kind of doing an analysis of their athletics, their academics, and some of the social things like where, what part of the country do they wanna be? What division they wanna play, that sort of thing. And then creating a list for a target list for them of here are the schools that, where we think you're a good fit. Cause you know, every kid wakes up and goes, I wanna play for USC or Florida state and that's not really, or UCLA, sorry, Stein.
That's not really the reality for every beach volleyball player. So just helping the kids explore what's out there and then helping them learn how to talk to a college coach, what the recruiting rules are just kind of supporting them through the process. So we're not a company that's gonna send a bunch of blank emails on your behalf. We're gonna say, Hey Susie, here's who I think, you know who here's, who's gonna be at this tournament. Here's how you could talk to them. Here's when you can talk to them and just kind of guiding them that way. So yeah. Wayne asked me to join last year. I started in on that and then was doing a lot of stuff at Marymount. So now I'm kind of back and focusing on the beach prospects piece with Wayne and he's just doing a great job. I think he signed like he helped 38 players, I think in the last 18 months get wow. Collegiate. Yeah. Get collegiate roster spots at division one and division two places. So
Mark Burik (00:53:53):
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:53:54):
Yeah. We've got Shane. Spellman's working with us too. He does all our video editing and yeah, it's a, our little triumphant there.
Mark Burik (00:54:02):
That's great. You guys got a squad.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:54:04):
Yeah, we do. It's fine.
Mark Burik (00:54:05):
nice. Is there a big mistake that most people make that you like immediate? Like do you guys have like a top 10 list that you can just give to everybody assuming that they'll they'll need to know this?
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:54:16):
No. We talk about like, what are our big threes? Uh, you know, the three things you must know. And for me, you know, as a, a college coach that you know, has gotten all the video and gone through the recruiting process at the division one division two and N I level the biggest mistake is letting your parents or your club coach drive the process. So the kids need to know that it's their process and coach doesn't wanna hear from a recruiting service. I mean, honestly, as a college coach, I get all those mass emails. It's just delete, delete, delete, delete, delete
Mark Burik (00:54:49):
As soon as soon as you see the subject line. Yeah. Or like
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:54:50):
As soon as you see it's from this service or that service, you know, I wanna see it's from the kit. I wanna hear from the kit,
Mark Burik (00:54:56):
That is something that those companies are going to hate that this aired I'm sorry. And it's, it's something that, that people need to hear that, you know, you're trying, this is what I mean. So those companies will probably say, Hey, it's a business. We're gonna send it out. We're gonna like, uh, chum the waters and, and try to get a bite out of this. And the coaches will probably say, this is my family. Yeah. That you're trying to come be a part of. And if you can't walk in a door, shake, shake my hand and introduce yourself with your first name, looking at me in the eye. What do you, you know, what do you want? Like, you're gonna show up to my front door in a hoodie where I can't see your face and then try to like date my daughter and no, no, , that's not gonna happen. And that's what people are. I assume that's what, you know, kind of happens with those emails that, that get mass emailed with a, a whole template situation. They think they're chumming the waters, but they're really just making them muddy and gross to the point where you won't even fish there.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:55:55):
Yeah. It's just creating a lot of work for the coach or the assistant coach or whomever. I, you know, I had someone liking it the other day. They said, I don't, I cast my line. I don't throw out a net. Hmm. I thought that was a good way of like, we're very specific. And I was just talking to a college coach yesterday about that like recruiting strategy and what they're looking for. And it's very specific to each college, especially with beach, cuz we're such a small boutique sport. We all know each other. Mm-hmm you know that there's not, and that's, you know, these,
Mark Burik (00:56:25):
All the beach coaches are so tight right now. Cause it's, I know small, every, like it seems like 90% of the current NCAA coaches are former AVP or at least OHP qualifiers. Oh yeah. It's like a real tight group right now. Yeah.
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:56:39):
Yeah. And it it's, that's why I think having, you know, me Wayne Shane out there because we know everyone and, and when they get something emailed from a mass email, they're just like, I don't know who this is. Mm. So I, you know, we're a small boutique little sport right now and it is all kind of who, you know, and I, so that's kind of what we do, but oh, we let's get back to our three things where we're talking about make that personal relationship, know the coach's first name. Sometimes you'll, I'll get emails to like the coach who was a year ago or they'll misspell your name or they'll send it to like, oh, the wrong coach. Like they've obviously just cut and pasted it to a bunch of different schools. I think for athletes too, not taking things personally, I think a lot.
There's so many differences between division one, division two and AIA about when coaches can respond back to you. So I could be saying, hi, mark coach at UCLA. I wanna come to UCLA. I wanna come to UCLA and I'm not gonna hear anything back because I can't until June 15th going into my junior, going to my junior year. Right. Yeah. But if I don't know that I might be like, well, he never says hi. He never responds back. So I think really kind of knowing those rules and knowing what they can and can't do. I always, when I was at SC, it was funny cuz I live here in the south bay and I coach for a and I work at U I was working at USC at the time and I would go into Frito Misto, which was about 400 yards from my house at the time and have dinner with my family.
And every time I was in there during the summer, there'd be like six different volleyball families. And they're like, Hey coach, what's up? And I'm like, yeah, he can't really talk to you right now. And you know, you're not being rude. It's just, those are the rules and what we can and can't do. I had one instance, I was at rock and fish and my daughter was like three at the time. And I saw family like that and they're like, Hey coach. I'm like, Hey. And they knew the rules, but my daughter just decided she loved the mom's necklace. I went and sat in her lap. I was like, I like your necklace. I'm like, oh this is awkward. I gotta call compliance tomorrow and be like, oh my kid sat in this lady's lap. Are we okay there? And it was really a unique sport for our compliance office to deal with because they hadn't really dealt with a sport where everyone was in this small little microcosm of Hermosa beach and just interacting
Mark Burik (00:58:49):
And trying where you're hanging out. Yeah. Like you're on the beach. Am I allowed to be on Hermosa beach while there's a volleyball tournament running? Right. I remember I, I had a coach who wanted to be at my player clinic, but she had to like call every day and say like, are there gonna be any, uh, kids, there are gonna be any kids there. And then she said, if there's a club running on the courts next to my clinic, she couldn't be at my clinic. Yeah. And I was like, oh gosh, these, the rules run, run deep and strict .
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:59:23):
I remember when I was at a sea, my niece was playing club indoor volleyball. And I wanted to go watch her play and like, well she's not your daughter, so you can't go. I'm like, but she's my niece. She lives with me. She's lived with me for years. Like I wanna I'm her guardian. Can I go see your play? So finally they said, okay, you can go see your play, but you can't look at any other team. So I'm
Mark Burik (00:59:46):
Ali Wood Lamberson (00:59:46):
OK. , you've been to like momentous in those gyms. I'm like, I've gotta walk through a 32 court gym like this. And then it was not only could I only watch her team play, but then I couldn't talk, Tom Haley, the indoor coach for a week afterwards. So like I'm just supposed to walk by him in the hall. And granted my da, my niece's team was in like third or fourth division. There was no one on that team that was going to USC, but still those were the rules that I had set forth. If I wanted to go watch my niece play. So that's what, what we have to do, you know, mm-hmm
Mark Burik (01:00:18):
Uh, do you think, do you think the NCAA is the rules turn coaches off? Do you think that there could be better coaches, better minds in the NCAA? If there weren't so many ways you could do it wrong and lose your career?
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:00:34):
You know, I think, I think that there are things that turn coaches off of coaching collegially. I'm not sure that that's it, because I think that most of the good schools have great compliance departments. Okay. And as long as a coach has a great relationship with their compliance department, they're gonna be okay. Okay. Because that compliance is gonna help them with the rules. They might not like the rules, but they're gonna stay out of trouble more so than a basketball or a football coach is going to. But I think that what a lot of people don't understand, we talked about, you know, former AV AVP pros being coaches. I remember when NC two, a first, when it first became on the emerging sport list for NC two a, which is how beach volleyball got it start for women in college. And I was at USA at the time and helping assisting with the, a BCA and trying to get that, that done.
And it was quite a fight. People don't realize that it wasn't like, Hey, this is great. There was a lot of naysayers and people that didn't want it and you know, a move to override the vote and all this stuff. So once it finally came in, of course, all these AVP players, like I'm gonna be a coach. And I remember saying, well, hold on. What do you know about amateurism compliance, budgeting? You know, all these different things because coaching again, I was talking to a coach yesterday who said, I just wanna get back to the sand and coach and I'm working on, you know, venue development. And I'm working on all these other pieces because your job is maybe 20% coaching your athletes. And then the rest are all these other things. So I think that's the part that kind of drives people out of the sport because you'd get away from what you love, which is being on the sand and coaching the game. And you're in meetings and you're doing catalogs or having to log every hour that every kid spent doing anything. And there's a lot that goes into the whole college world.
Mark Burik (01:02:19):
Nice. Yeah. Yeah. We've got for better beach. We've got a few coaches who are former NCAA and could easily, you know, are getting invites to be NCAA. Uh, and choosing not to, I think a little bit more for us anyway, it's cuz of the freedom of schedule, you know, where they don't have to travel as much, but it's, it's not super glamorous to be in, in NCAA coach. There's a lot of long nights. There's a lot of being away from the family. It's rewarding as hell to take kids from that transition, turn them out as good quality people. A few years later, you know, I've been lucky to be under the influence of coaches who believed in people more so than they believed in, in, in volleyball. And you know, I was lucky enough to be a beneficiary of that, but some of them, they also, like you said, they don't have the mental, the relationship training, uh, being able to, to navigate those where they're just trying to play volleyball and then the other stuff like venue, selection and hourly stuff that gets in the way. So then they start resenting that. And then yeah, I, I wonder what the answer is for somebody who just loves coaching volleyball now, is it assistant NCAA coach? Is it assistant coach? No.
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:03:42):
The assistant is
Mark Burik (01:03:42):
Gonna have to a club
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:03:44):
Director. The assistant has to do all that administrative work that the head doesn't wanna do
Mark Burik (01:03:49):
At some places, some places the head takes all of that. And then the assistant is the court coach.
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:03:53):
That's true. Yeah. I mean, I think coaching, if you're okay with the travel coaching on the international tour, then you can really impact one or two teams that you're working with
Mark Burik (01:04:03):
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:04:03):
Yeah. I know running and, and it's brutal travel brutal. That's why it's, they're all young guys out there. Right? I think running clubs, I mean, look at what Patty saw done, what Patty dot has done with her club. I mean, that's impressive. And Holly, she's a force. Yeah. And Holly and, and Barb and Eric with elite just, I mean, they've got such a nice little niche there and I always say, I'm gonna do the same thing down here, but I don't have the commitment that they do here. I had my little group for two years here in south Redondo and took a break this year cuz of, you know, working at MCU. But it's a lot of work to put in and grow that kind of a thing. And that's impressive what they've done and you know, they get to be on that beach with kids.
But I always think of that, that graphic that you see, I dunno if you see it's an iceberg and the little tiny bit of the iceberg is above water and it says what my friends think I do and it's Xs and OS and then what I actually do and it's, you know, budgeting, recruiting and all these different things. And I think any part of coaching, you know, unless you're just running your kids a Y S O team or something, you're gonna be doing all those other, all those pieces, you might be fundraising, you might be budgeting. You might be doing all of that. So when people say, I wanna be a coach, I wanna do what you do. It's like, well, think about that, cuz there's a lot that goes into it. And, and I, you know, if someone asks me, how do you feel successful as a coach?
I'm like part of that's when a kid tells me I wanna be a coach and I just had dinner with Carol Hamilton, Welcher. I don't know if you know her, but I was her indoor college coach and talk about putting a lot of work into a kid, but to see her, you know, coaching and thriving and being a parent like that's huge. I just, I just got a email and a t-shirt from a, a kid that I coached USA. And then she went to Tula and I coached her there. And she went on to she's working for NASA now and she's a rocket scientist and, and you know, those kind of little things like that's better than any, you know, NCAA, well, maybe not, but that's equal with an NCAA two, a championship that success and seeing those women and men that you've gotten to influence and how they've succeeded in their lives is pretty cool. Pretty cool.
Mark Burik (01:06:04):
And you can, you know, it, it might not, you can win a championship and not necessarily have had a perfect influence or a good influence on people's lives. You know? So in my mind that is more worth, more than NCAA championship to see somebody who can go carry on, create a good family, create a good community around them. Yeah. And, and make the world better versus a ring. Yeah. I would choose the person first. Yeah.
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:06:34):
I got you run a starlings program with anyone that's not familiar with starlings it's club volleyball for kids that can't really afford clubs. So when Byron Shoeman called he's the founder of, of starlings at a national program, he called me a couple years ago, gosh, a couple like 20 and said, Hey, we have this team, maybe one of your Dominguez players would wanna coach it. And I had been coaching it south bay for all these, you know, rich kids. And I was like, what kids that are appreciative, I'll take it. And it was at Athens park, which if you're not familiar with Athens park in LA, it's where the bloods were formed. Okay. And we were at a, it was an at risk program for LA county probation where the probation officer would unlock the gym and let us in and lock us in the gym.
And here I was driving my little beach volleyball, Chico Volkswagen down to, to the hood and coaching these girls. And I, I ran it there for like two years and then we lost funding. So I took it to Domingez. Then we were like boys and girls club and we just were moving around to try to help these girls. And I did that for five or six years. And those are some of the girls that I still talk to on a regular basis and what amazing strides they've made in their lives. And, and there's one or two that are coaches now, which is great. One that got a D one scholarship and just a really neat group. And I wouldn't trade that experience for, you know, Annie. So I think that running the gamut of, of coaching from a starlings all the way up to a USA program, it's been really cool to see the different levels. And a coach is a coach. You know, you get to, what is it? We are influencers. You know, everyone likes to use that word. I'm gonna be an influencer. I'm like really
Mark Burik (01:08:08):
Somebody just called me that. And I was like, oh, but I guess I am. You
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:08:13):
Are because you're a coach. You are cuz you're a coach.
Mark Burik (01:08:16):
Yeah. We're we are the OG influencers.
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:08:18):
there you go.
Mark Burik (01:08:20):
There you go. One last question. What was the best choice you've made in your volleyball career between playing coaching administration? What do you think has been the best choice?
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:08:37):
Mark Burik (01:08:38):
It's a tough one
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:08:39):
Being down by a few points, five or six points and deciding to jump, serve the heck out of the ball. in the Manhattan open. When I had just had knee surgery, my partner was sucking and we were playing the Hawaiians and I'm like, I really wanna win this game. And I just went out and just cracked some jump serves and ended up winning. No, I'm kidding though. That was a good choice.
Mark Burik (01:09:00):
Don't and people need to remember that there's a time where people are gonna hate on this. Bring on the hate mail, everybody, but there's a time, uh, that, that I call it's it's time to whip it out. Yeah. Yeah. like, this is the time where like you're in a slug Fest and it's, who's going to swing harder first and dictate the action. Yeah. And you know, you gotta start at some point the strategy, the numbers, the like what we're doing, you gotta come out with it and say like, here we go. You know, it's not always, but if you're willing to do it at the end, I think you're going to win more matches, then you'll then you'll lose. Yeah. Okay. And your second best choice.
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:09:38):
My second, I think the choice to finally leave my pro career and take the job at SAV. And I had no idea what that job and when I got hired there, the job was really just to manage the elite athletes that were trying to get to the Olympics. But then I kept saying that, oh, there's a need for someone to do junior international. There's a need to have someone help with this and coaching and, and how it just blossomed into so many cool projects that I still, you know, I've seen other people get to run with after I left there. And I think that was a good choice and it was hard every single day of it was so hard and blood, sweat, and tears and 80 hour weeks at some point. But I think that that was a really good choice cuz I can look back now and see, you know, how that's grown and how we now, you know, part of that was work, went into getting NC two, a volleyball to be a thing and coaching education and all these different things and a funding program for the athletes. And so I, and again, getting to work with those mentors that I talked about, whether it was Doug be or bill Neville or, or SIL or not, and just getting to be in a part of that world was really cool.
Mark Burik (01:10:48):
Mm, nice. Yeah. That's great. Do you have any advice for anybody going forward?
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:10:53):
Don't hold back, just go for it. You know, just like at that, when you're down 10, 14 or whatever, just go for it. I say that though. And then there's always like the crazy person it's like, I'm gonna be a pro and you're like, oh gosh, no, you're not. So let's go back. Let's dial that back. Communicate with people. I think that's really important. Get some people that, that are honest with you. You know, I talked about my strength coach. He never fed me any crap. It was like just the straight. Who's gonna give it to you straight. Same thing with my, with my boss at USA, Doug be let's get, find that group of people that are gonna give you, they have your back and they're gonna talk to you straight. Like here's how it is. Hey, maybe it's time for you to, you know, hang up your bikinis. My mom would always say that sort of thing. Maybe she should hang up her bikini, but the people that are gonna gonna give you those, the straight up answers and just kind of have that little group of people that you know, that you can go to when you need 'em. I think that's important.
Mark Burik (01:11:48):
I love it. Allie, thank you so much for your time.
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:11:52):
Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Mark Burik (01:11:53):
Absolutely. And, um, guys, if you ever want to reach out to Allie, if you wanna, uh, check out each prospects, uh, all of her links are below. They are linked in the show notes. Uh, you can go and follow along with her career as she, uh, continues to have a massive influence over the current and future of beach volleyball, everything. So go ahead and follow her. She's an important person you need to stay up to date with. And if you ever want to go for a, you know, a beach accreditation, uh, with USA volleyball, you get the, the pleasure of working with her and, and learning from her gigantic brain.
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:12:31):
oh boy, you thought my head's not gonna fit through the door now.
Mark Burik (01:12:36):
Ali Wood Lamberson (01:12:37):
Great to catch up with you, mark.
Mark Burik (01:12:39):
All right. Yeah. Have a good day. You too. Bye.