New Germany men's volleyball team coach Andrea Giani says World Championship qualification is the absolute priority
Lausanne, Switzerland, February 16, 2017 – Italian Andrea Giani, 46, quit his job as Slovenia coach in January and is the new coach for the German men’s team. In an interview with the German Volleyball Federation, Giani reflects on his career to date and what he expects with Germany.
When and why did you choose volleyball? Your father was a rower and took part in the Olympic Games.
Giani: I was 10 years old when I first came into contact with volleyball. Two years later, my teacher told me to try it. After the first session, it was like a lightning strike. Before that I rowed and that was hard. In my last year, I trained alone; for example, I’d do 10 kilometres of running and 6 kilometres of rowing. Volleyball was the exact opposite – playing with friends, a ball and having fun.
You were an all-around player, which you don’t see so much of today; has that been an advantage as a coach?
Giani: Maybe. It is certainly an advantage to have played different positions, but ultimately it’s the players on the court who have to make decisions in fractions of a second. As a coach, I can’t do anything except with words; communication is how you change things. This kind of advice is more important in training than in a match.
When did you decide to become a coach?
Giani: While I was still a player. I always had good relations with my coaches and was inquisitive. In the last two years of my career, the decision to become a coach took root. And then, in my last year, 2007, Modena asked me to become a coach.
What type of coach are you?
Giani: In my early years as a player, I was very aggressive and talked a lot with our opponents. With more experience, I became calmer; I knew what I wanted. As a coach, I am rather quiet in games. But it’s different in training, because I talk more, demand a lot and am also more aggressive.
Who shaped you?
Giani: There were many people. Coaches Alexander Skiba (Poland), Bebeto de Freitas (Brazil), Gian Paolo Montali (Italy) and Julio Velasco (Argentina) were certainly important for me. As a player, I would say Alain Fabiani (France), Dusty Dvorak (USA) and Renan Dal Zotto (Brazil). I found self-confidence through (Italians) Marco Bracci, Luca Cantagalli and Andrea Gravina. But everyone must find their own way. You learn and improve, but you have to develop your own ideas.
Why Germany and not Slovenia? You had great success with Slovenia.
Giani: The work and the results with Slovenia were great, but I wanted to develop further and I believe that the potential of the German team is greater. The pressure on me will also be higher in Germany, which stimulates me and allows me to take the next step. But, of course, the results must be right.
What do you know about the German players and the German teams?
Giani: I know, of course, the players of the national team and the clubs Friedrichshafen and Berlin. Now I want to get to know the other players and clubs as well as the coaches who are responsible for training these young players.
When does the preparation begin?
Giani: I plan to start in Kienbaum on May 2 with all the players who are finished with their championships. My goal is to develop a group of 16 to 18 experienced and young players. Now the part is getting to know everything – clubs, players, staff, the federation. If we start in May, we have only three weeks to play the very important World Championship qualifiers [May 23-28].
What are the objectives for 2017?
Giani: This year is very important for us. Germany was third in the 2014 World Championship and qualification for the 2018 World Championship is very important. This will not be easy and players need to understand how important it is. We want to win the World League Group 3, but the European Championship finals are still far away. The absolute priority is World Championship qualification, for which we must prepared in the best possible way.
Did you talk with your predecessor?
Giani: I think this is normal in sports and is part of the job. It is important to know how the group works. I talked with Vital Heynen three weeks ago, I am in touch with him and will talk to him again at the end of the week in Friedrichshafen.
Vital Heynen put a lot of emphasis on block defence. Where is your focus?
Giani: It's the same with me. My team plays on breakpoints – that is with the element of the serve as well as block defence and the resulting attack from that. I believe the difference with Vital will be how I try to achieve that. I attach great importance to technology and technical training. In addition, discipline, such as in our backup. I expect the players to be ready to give 100 per cent.