Ekaterina Gamova: When the young players in the role of Libero only began to develop in the older age, It was too late
Long-time leader and top scorer of the national team, two-time world champion (2006, 2010), winner of the mass of the various titles Ekaterina Gamova, who three times received the prize of the name of Lyudmila Buldakova, the strongest volleyball player of the Super League, completed her playing career a year ago. In April 2017, she successfully debuted in new role as a consultant for the women’s national team of our juniors (under 18 years old) became the winner at the European Championship in the Netherlands. Head Coach of the champion Alexander Karikov immediately noted that Ekaterina’s contribution to this victory can not be overestimated, her presence at the national team headquarters was extremely useful.
In an interview with the correspondent of RG, Ekaterina Gamova described how there was her transition to a new quality and shared her vision of the key problems of training the reserve in the Russian women’s volleyball.
“I did not want to become a simple housewife”
When you have completed a career, you already knew what you would do and whether you would remain in volleyball in some other role?
Ekaterina Gamova: The decision to withdraw from the big sport was brewing. Due to some circumstances, this happened a little earlier than planned. At that time, I had no idea what I would do next. I was just going to rest. And then, after a while, I began to look for work, and the current version with the Russian Volleyball Federation was formed.
You did not look for a job, not to get your daily bread.
Ekaterina Gamova: When I had enough rest, I somehow not relish to the prospect of becoming an ordinary housewife. I wanted to continue the movement in life, as before, when I was a player, that was interesting. And of course, there was a desire to stay in volleyball. It is my desire coincided with the interests of the federation.
So you were at the headquarters of the junior team. Is it easy to find contact with the players? For them, you are an idol, whose autograph is to be received for happiness, and here she is next – Ekaterina Gamova…Not intimidated the girls?
Ekaterina Gamova: I gradually entered into my new role and made contact with the volleyball players of our team. I came to the training of the team, Alexander Viktorovich Karikov actively engage to them. I told the girls about everything that I can do in volleyball, I gave various professional advice, I tried to help them as much as possible, using the accumulated experience. And quite quickly our communication became easy, no barriers.
What was the main reason for this? How to attack properly?
Ekaterina Gamova: Not really. These were tips for a more general plan. If I saw some elements that you can improve in the game, then talked about the receiving, and the blocking, the development of the ball, and also the attacking.
The witnesses of the tournament in Holland told me that your presence is highly motivated players. In the eyes of Ekaterina Gamova, they wanted to be the best.
Ekaterina Gamova: It’s hard for me to judge. I hope that this is the case, and my presence really helped in terms of attitude to fight. I was going through all my heart for the team, rooting for girls. I told them: this is the Russian national team, and you have to play like future volleyball players of the national team.
Juniors started the tournament with two defeats 0:3, and then a team like changed. What happened?
Ekaterina Gamova: To be honest, we all at the coaching staff did not fully understand this. Of course, after two failures on our part, we did everything possible to reverse the situation. I do not think that the result brought any changes in tactics. We talked a lot with the players, tried to set them up, make a break, especially in the minds and psychology. The team from the third game began to show excellent fighting qualities, the girls believed in themselves.
“Kids” closed the road
What are the strengths and weaknesses of our reserve teams on the example of this junior team?
Ekaterina Gamova: Undoubtedly, the strength of domestic women’s volleyball is traditionally in such elements as attack, reception and block – due to the presence of tall, physically developed players. And the main problem is the same as the adult team – the reception.
Why do we have to discuss the difficulties in defense for many years in a row?
Ekaterina Gamova: There is another reason, which I would like to elaborate. In the younger and middle ages in domestic competitions, both among girls and boys, it is forbidden to use libero.
Artificial limitation, is not it? Moreover, it is contrary to the official rules of the game.
Ekaterina Gamova: As far as I know, this was done in time to ensure that all players were able to accept. More specific specialization in the role is already at an older age, where libero is allowed. But, as practice shows, this approach for a long time does not justify itself. This is said and children’s coaches in the field, and those who work with the reserve teams. When the young players in the role of Libero only began to develop in the older age, It was too late. And so it turns out that the boys and girls take the libero position as a residual. The role of a net defender goes to those who did not come from a good hitter or blocking. No targeted training in libero! Libero in adult volleyball is a player with very specific data. As a rule, they are all relatively short. And those screened at the most basic level, when it is set in a children’s and sports schools. With the existing approach in Russia, the “kids” simply do not have a chance to gain a foothold in volleyball. This is fundamentally wrong! In my opinion, it is advisable to legitimize the position of libero at least from the middle age.
And in whose has power to change the situation?
Ekaterina Gamova: As far as I know, and it’s not a secret for anyone, the initiator of such a late specialization in the role of libero is the former head of the Russian Volleyball Federation, and now the adviser to the president of the federation, the honored coach of the country. I think that the leading children’s coaches from all over Russia and those who are directly responsible for preparing the reserve of the national team, you need to sit down for a “round table” and professionally deal with this problem,which becomes more acute every year. The serious flaws that come into contact with us are like they are.
It is impossible not to agree. Libero Elena Ezhova suddenly made her debut in the national team at the age of 38 years old.
Ekaterina Gamova: Lena, of course, great well-done. But here, you gave an example, which eloquently speaks about our problem with the libero.
Pro game look “outside the gate”
About twenty years ago you started to play for the Russian national team, starting with the junior team. How has the women’s volleyball changed during this time?
Ekaterina Gamova: I would not talk about any radical changes. Volleyball as it was, and remains an athletic sport, the bet is made on high players, at least in our country.
The women’s Russian championship is nearly finish. Our newspaper has traditionally hold a poll of coaches – who is the best player of the Super League, who will be awarded the prize named after Lyudmila Buldakova. Following the vote?
Ekaterina Gamova: I believe that the prize will be given to the player from the four of the strongest teams following the results of the Super League. One of the main contenders – the capital of Dinamo Moscow Natalia Goncharova, perhaps, she will compete with someone from the legionaries. Although, to be honest, I do not have absolutely the full picture of what happened in the championship this season.
By the way, your attitude to the existing limit on foreign players – no more than two in the application for the championship of Russia?
Ekaterina Gamova: I do not think that now this issue is just as urgent as five years ago, when the budgets of our clubs markedly superior financial capabilities of foreign groups. Hard limit exactly played to the benefit of Russian players. However, some teams sometimes claimed third legionary exclusively on the European Cups. Restrictions need to save – two players can still be a three, but certainly not more.
This season, the outside hitter of the national team Tatiana Kosheleva held in Turkey. And you had such an experience that you spent a year in Fenerbahce Istanbul.
Ekaterina Gamova: Sure, it’s a positive experience. I plunged into a completely different atmosphere, a different schedule during the season. In the championship of Turkey, the majority of teams are concentrated in Istanbul, in the away games to other competitors, we traveled a short distance. Therefore, there was an opportunity for a full-fledged training process. We have an immense country, plus the top five clubs play in European competition. Players spend most of their time traveling – waiting rooms, buses, stations, planes. There is no time for systematic preparation.
And at the end of the conversation, advise from which point the stands are better to watch volleyball – sitting in the center or “behind the net”?
Ekaterina Gamova: As a professional, I always choose the point, as you put it, “behind the net,” that is behind the front line. For me it is more understandable position, it is possible to properly consider these or other nuances of the situation. When viewed from the side line, then some specific things you can not see. Not for nothing because all the coaches-statisticians and analytics take place immediately behind the service line. But the ordinary spectator is free to choose the angle, based on their preferences, there’s as you like.