Secrets of Coaching Success: Spiros Karachalios (Part 1)
After hearing from several top-level volleyball coaches, today I introduce my first beach volleyball guest in the series. Spiros Karachalios is a 43-year-old Greek specialist, who recently steered the Swiss women’s national team to a historic trophy at the inaugural CEV BeachVolley Nations Cup.
Spiros was born in 1979 and started when he was 11 years old. The local club in Athens did not have an indoor facility, so Spiros and his teammates had to practice their favorite sport, playing two on two at an outdoor court. It was not on sand, but close enough to the beach version of the game.
As he grew up, Spiros competed in both disciplines, but it was beach volleyball that he enjoyed the most. He and his partner Dimitrios Nerantzis represented Greece at the inaugural 1999 CEV U23 Beach Volleyball European Championship in Schinias and finished fifth. In 2003, Karachalios made a couple of more international appearances at FIVB tournaments as a player, but at the time, he was already more drawn to the coaching profession.
In 1999, he started as an assistant coach to the Greek women’s duo of Efi Sfyri & Vasso Karadassiou, helping them on the road to qualifying for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Karachalios stayed on as an assistant coach through 2004, when Sfyri & Karadassiou finished ninth at the home Olympics in Athens. During that period, the Greek pair also topped the podium at the 2001 CEV European Championship in Jesolo.
For the next Olympic cycle, Karachalios was promoted to a coaching position with the Greek women’s national teams. He claimed two more EuroBeachVolley titles at Moscow 2005 and Valencia 2007 with Vasso Karadassiou & Vasiliki Arvaniti, as well as several medals on the FIVB World Tour, including gold at the 2005 Stavanger Grand Slam. Karachalios also led Efthalia Koutroumanidou & Maria Tsiartsiani to a ninth-place finish at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
During that period, the Greek specialist also had his first coaching assignment abroad, working with Finnish twins Emilia Nystrom & Erika Nystrom.
In 2010 and 2011, Karachalios worked with Greece’s youth national teams and, in 2012, he coached the Polish men’s pair of Michal Kadziola & Jakub Szalankiewicz steering them to a fourth place at the European Championship in the Hague and bronze medals at the CEV Continental Cup and the FIVB World Cup Finals.
As a coach of the Greek men’s team of Georgios Kotsilianos & Nikos Zoupani, he took a fifth place at the 2013 FIVB Grand Slam in Xiamen and a couple of continental medals, silver at the 2015 CEV Satellite in Skopje and bronze at the 2014 CEV Satellite in Vaduz. They also won the 2014 BVA Balkan Tour.
At the helm of German women’s duo Chantal Laboureur & Julia Sude, Karachalios celebrated with a number of prestigious international podiums, including gold medals at the 2016 FIVB Porec Major and at the 2016 CEV Jurmala Masters, helping the team reach as high as the number three spot in the FIVB World Ranking.
Spiros Karachalios’s coaching career peaked during the next Olympic cycle, when he drove his Polish pair of Bartosz Losiak & Piotr Kantor to the number one position in the men’s World Ranking for several months in 2018.
His achievements as a coach of Poland’s men’s national teams included World Tour four-star gold medals at Warsaw 2018 and Sochi 2021, a five-star silver at Gstaad 2017 and a EuroBeachVolley bronze at Vienna 2021 with Losiak & Kantor, as well as Doha 2020 four-star gold, a Vienna 2018 five-star silver and a Tokyo 2020 Olympics ninth-place with Michal Bryl & Grzegorz Fijalek. Amazingly, he had both of these pairs on the podium at the 2018 World Tour Finals in Hamburg, with bronze and silver, respectively.
After the Games in Tokyo last year, Spiros Karachalios took over women’s bronze medalists Joana Heidrich & Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland. They made it to their first Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour semifinal at the Ostrava Elite16 event in May. Just a few days later, the Swiss were well on their way to the FIVB World Championship podium at Rome 2022, after a 21-16 win in the first set and a 10-7 lead in the second set of the bronze medal match, when Heidrich received a grave shoulder injury as she was serving, which forced them to forfeit the game and settle for the fourth place.
With Menia Bentele stepping in as Verge-Depre’s partner while Heidrich is recovering, Karachalios led the Swiss women’s national team, also including Nina Brunner & Tanja Huberli, to triumph at the inaugural 2022 CEV BeachVolley Nations Cup in Vienna this summer. Shortly after that, Verge-Depre & Bentele also finished fifth at EuroBeachVolley 2022 in Munich.
“I believe that one of the most important things I try to do is just keep learning, keep developing, keep questioning everything and brainstorm. Always be willing to go a step further.”
Beach Volleyball Coach