What trust helps achieving. In sport as in life

Marco Baldan
3 min readSep 18, 2022

I love volleyball. I had forgotten that I do.
Since Covid-19 I started watching live games on the laptop ( long live VolleyballWorld.tv ).
Last week the Italian National Team won the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship for the 4th time, the first time in 24 years.

Credit: Volleytimes.com

They won in Poland, against the Polish National Team, the reigning champion of the previous two editions. The team did not lose a single match in the final phase and dropped 4 sets over 7 matches.

A personal summary of noteworthy things that happened

The reasons of such a successful campaign are always multiple and difficult to trace back for a specialist, don’t mention it for a part time aficionado like me.

Either way some things have been remarkable to me and represent an approach to leadership and team building that can resonate with many in my opinion.

Fiducia

The word translates as ‘trust’ in English, in the sense of ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something’.

During each time out Fefè de Giorgi, the coach and himself a world champion back in the ’80s, used this word, often alone as a concluding remark. As a keyword, that triggered other conversations the team and the coach had probably had in training or elsewhere.

Notice that time outs in volleyballs are 30 seconds long breaks that can be called by each coach twice per set, a set lasting on average 20 minutes or more.

Trust indeed. In your means and in the ability of your teammates, in the capacity to make the right moves, hit the right spike and pull off the right defence. Trust that all those things you have worked hard to turn into a seamless effort will happen if you stay calm and play your game.

Tono di voce

It translates as tone of voice. Voice pitch, if you like.

Even when under pressure, both during the final and in other matches, the coach never seemed to feel the need to scream or raise his voice.

Does he scream in training? Maybe but the point is that in those decisive moments, the approach has been completely different. That is also the way he talks before, during and after each match. He seems to be true to himself.

I più giovani

The youngest team. Italy travelled to the tournament with the youngest team of the competition. The same team that had won the European Championship the year before (In the same stadium). The same team that had lost the Nations League Final to France, the Olympic Champion, this summer in Italy.

Being young of age is often portraited as a shortcoming when a player makes it to a final for the first time, or when somebody does something important for the first time.

It does not need to be like that. See above why.

Commenti post partita

During a post-match interview — my bad I do not recall for which game — the Italian coach was asked whether the fact that he had won a championship as a player was of any help for his team. His answer was so beautiful, and can be paraphrased as: No.

Everybody needs to do their own experience, he elaborated, to win matches (see European Championship) and to struggle a lot in others (The Nations League), to gain the confidence and the mental strength to overcome challenges to end on the other side with a handful of new insights and practical knowledge.

Thinking that experience can be transmitted in words is bullocks.

Disclaimer
It is much easier to tell a story that matters when it ends up with a success. At the same time, success should be measured in a more nuanced way. And not only in binary terms. The team ride in the Championship would have been a success before the last two games anyway.
And would have still provided a lot of insights into positive approaches to team building and leadership no matter what.

Be graceful. It pays off. Be resilient. Act trustworthily. It matters.

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Marco Baldan

Dedicated feed of apparently unrelated interests. Migration, dataviz, music, swimming, EU, Social impact. Tweets in EN, GER & IT. Retweet's no endorsment 2+2=5