Tod Mattox will tell you that his coaching philosophy is a lot about “keeping big things big.” He explains it this way:
“Coaches always need to ask themselves, ‘What’s important to me?’ – and then they need to remember it every day because the game can consume you. There are times when you might be thinking, ‘We can’t side out in rotation one!’ But that’s not really the big thing. The big thing is, is your team playing together? Do players come in every day and have a good attitude? Is their effort level high for every contact?”
Those three principles – “effort, teamness and attitude” – have been a guiding light for Mattox, a longtime Starlings supporter and current board member who coaches high school volleyball at The Bishop’s School in San Diego and serves as Director of Coach Education for COAST Volleyball.
“Effort, teamness and attitude are qualities that have an impact on players, whether they’re in the classroom or playing volleyball or spending time with their families. They’re life skills,” he says. “For any volleyball program, there has to be a foundation that’s bigger than serving aces or making digs.”
Mattox, who has trained Starlings coaches for more than 20 years and who served as the program’s associate director from 2017 to 2019, is “known and loved for his tough, but supportive coaching style,” Starlings Executive Director Lucy Jones says. “His unique presentation makes volleyball fast and fun while still producing top athletes. From top college coaches to the young Starlings 12’s players, all feel privileged to call him friend and mentor.”
Mattox caught the volleyball bug playing beach as a kid in Los Angeles, then was the starting setter on his high school team in Palos Verdes. His first coaching job came in 1982 after he graduated from San Diego State, and his “real job,” in his words, was teaching English at Bishop’s. He retired from the classroom in 2017 but continues to coach the school’s volleyball team.
“People say, ‘You’ve been coaching for so long, doesn’t it get old?’” says Mattox, whose book, “Coaching High School Volleyball,” was published earlier this year by The Art of Coaching. “The answer is no! The longer you do something, the more you learn how much you don’t know. Every team I coach has new lessons to teach me, and it keeps me excited and energized. I find it fascinating to keep learning and keep trying to be as good a coach as I can be so kids can learn fast and have fun.”