Many great players in Haikyū!! made it to the top because of practice and hard work, but let’s not forget who guided them towards there — their coaches!
These supportive coaches don’t get much of the spotlight because they’re not the stars of the volleyball court; so, let’s put them on the spot and make them one!
Today, I’ll be enumerating at least 10 Haikyū!! coaches who grabbed my attention. They might not have had prominent moments in the series, but they shared their unique volleyball techniques so the players can use them instantly on the court!
10Takurō Oiwake (Date Tech)
Date Tech’s coach comes as stern as ever. He may be in his late 40s, but he knows how to utilize Datekougyou’s “Iron Wall” so it stays impregnable!
He supports his team by informing them that the wonder duo’s Quick Strike is nothing more than a flashy technique. By diluting Tobio and Shōyō’s freak attacks, Datekougyou’s team spirit was uplifted, even if only by a little!
Takurō is also responsible for Kanji Koganegawa’s “golden infant” nickname. Kanji took it to heart that even during an interview (as shown in the “Special Feature! Betting on the Spring High Volleyball” OVA), he calls himself an “infant just getting to crawl in volleyball”! (LOL!)
Despite his strict aura and the sappy nicknames he gives his players, Takurō led Date Tech to victory against Karasuno during the final round of 2013’s Inter-High Tournament. That’s proof enough of his great leadership!
9Michiko Kuzuri (Mujinazaka High)
Michiko is the only female coach on my list. One thing I admire about her is that she’s never afraid to speak her mind even when she slightly demeans Mujinazaka High’s impressive volleyball skills!
“Offense is the greatest defense”. Those are some of Michiko’s powerful words when responding to middle blocker Nozomu Mami’s suggestion to stop target-blocking captain Kōtarō Bokuto (an ace and an outside hitter).
If Mujinazaka succeeds in widening the gaps and opening the holes Fukurōdani Academy possesses, Mujinazaka’s winning strategies just might work!
Despite knowing how captain Wakatsu Kiryū (who holds the same positions as Kōtarō) is a bad match-up for the energetic Kōtarō, she’s glad to see him take on a challenging opponent (for it’s by overcoming these challenges that Wakatsu got over his desperations and pressures).
8Takeyuki Yamiji (Fukurōdani Academy)
Every coach has their serious sides when coaching their teams. But who knew that Fukurōdani Academy’s coach, Takeyuki Yamiji, has a playful side to him as well?
This trait is likely influenced by the energetic Kōtarō Bokuto, who always “chest bumps” Takeyuki whenever the ace successfully scores!
And although Takeyuki constantly scolds Kōtarō for his mood swings and emo modes, he’s only counterbalancing the teenager’s over-the-top excitement!
It’s the opposite when dealing with the stoic Keiji Akaashi. Instead of scolding him during his off days, Takeyuki emotionally helped the setter so the boy can overcome his insecurities during a match against Mujinazaka High.
Takeyuki’s relationship with his team is wholesome! Not only has he been supporting Fukurōdani Academy since junior high; he has also been inspiring them to have fun and be content even in just securing the next point.
It’s the secret to Kōtarō, Keiji, and many Fukurōdani members’ success in reaching their full potential during the Tokyo Nationals games!
7Norimune Kurosu (Inarizaki High)
Norimune Kurosu is a man who pushes the Inarizaki High volleyball players to constantly challenge themselves. He believes that if his boys undergo many difficult challenges, it will help them grow and reach immense heights!
Norimune doesn’t just want the Miya Twins, Aran Ojiro, Shinsuke Kita, and the other Inarizaki members to rise to the challenge. He also doesn’t want the boys to hold onto past victories.
Inarizaki High may have succeeded before, but those games are finished. The players’ performances last time don’t dictate whether they can win against Karasuno High during the Tokyo Nationals’ Spring Inter-High playoffs.
This is the same motivation he told 1st year wing spiker/pinch server Heisuke Riseki after making a blundering serve: “What can Inarizaki High hope to become if they cling onto the past?”
What powerful words coming from an experienced coach like Norimune Kurosu! It’s no wonder he’s very proud of them even after Inarizaki loses against Karasuno.
6Aaron Murphy (Kamomedai High)
Aaron Murphy is a foreign coach who caught the attention of many fans in the series. Before entering Japan, he coached Italy’s Pro Volleyball Series. And before coming to Kamomedai High, he was always helping Japan’s V2 League Division to reach V1 (a higher volleyball league)!
With an impressive record like that, it’s no wonder that then-freshman Kōrai Hoshiumi and Sachirō Hirugami were awestruck by this man’s philosophy: strengthening serves, blocks, and mental training to operate at peak performance!
Even when Kōrai finds himself in a disarray against Kei Tsukishima’s blocks, the former managed to utilize his blocking-deflecting techniques!
Aaron is also impressed by Kamomedai’s mascot seagull and motto: “Habit is Second Nature”. If Kōrai’s serves consistently (or habitually) without flaws, the team will impressively fly like seagulls without being swept away by strong winds and blizzards!
5Nobuteru Irihata (Aoba Jōsai High)
Coach Nobuteru Irihata is one respectable man! He made an impression on fans, including me, when he told Tōru Oikawa, Hajime Iwaizumi, Yūtarō Kindaichi, Akira Kunimi, and other Seijō members they fought well after a devastating loss against Karasuno High.
It made me look up to the man even after witnessing how incredible he pushed and molded Aoba Jōsai members to play one of their best games against Karasuno!
Nobuteru trusts his boys as well as captain Tōru’s decisions. He believes that Seijō players are mature and responsible enough to follow Tōru’s orders and hold meetings on their own.
That’s why Nobuteru doesn’t coach Seijō players that much. He leaves it up to Tōru, Iwaizumi, Yūtarō, and Akira to shoulder wins and losses (allowing Nobuteru to possess a laidback attitude despite the stress his boys are experiencing during matches).
One thing I must mention is how Nobuteru attempted to recruit Tobio Kageyama into joining Seijō after the setter was rejected by Shiratorizawa Academy. Shocking, I know! But, had Tobio accepted the offer, he wouldn’t grow as much because Shōyō Hinata would not be there beside him.
4Keishin Ukai (Karasuno High)
Who would have thought that the worker at Sakanoshita Market ended up being Karasuno High’s coach until the team steps at the Tokyo Spring Nationals Tournament for the 2nd time?
Keishin was a Karasuno High alumnus sporting a blond-dyed buzzcut. He formerly played as the school’s setter (wearing jersey #2) during his 1st and 2nd years. He also became a regular on his 3rd year!
Keishin doesn’t want those nostalgic memories to come gushing in his mind. That’s why he constantly refuses faculty advisor Ittetsu Takeda’s offer to become Karasuno High’s next “Ukai” volleyball coach.
The only thing that made him say “yes” to the coaching position is when Ittetsu mentioned Nekoma. Like his grandfather (Ikkei Ukai), Keishin looks forward to seeing a “Dumpster Match” between the “crows” (Karasuno High) and the “cats” (Nekoma High); it’d be a dream come true!
So, he jumped to the opportunity and became Karasuno High’s competitive volleyball coach until his boys reach Tokyo Nationals!
One thing I’d like to point out is his smoking and drinking habits. Initially, I thought Production I.G. would cut or change these scenes as Haikyū!! is a show targeted at kids or the youth.
However, the animation studio went so far for the sometimes-lazy-and-cranky Keishin Ukai to even use alcohol as metaphors (and drinking as analogies) when talking about volleyball to Karasuno High’s minors.
It goes to show that even if he’s not good at studies, he can analyze the opponents well so Karasuno players can beat them at full force!
3Tanji Washijō (Shiratorizawa Academy)
Grumpy old coach Tanji Washijō’s flashback is the “what-if” / alternate character had Shōyō Hinata given up on volleyball.
Though he spent 10 years of his life as a confident wing spiker, his coach discouraged him: he’s not tall (urging Tanji’s envy towards tall and strong players).
For the next 40+ years, coach Tanji only drafted powerful players like the mighty Wakatoshi Ushijima.
Despite his philosophy that strength can overwhelm opponents, he didn’t ignore oddballs like the bullied Satori Tendō; as long as Satori can block properly, he can score!
The volleyball club he formed conflates Tanji’s ideals and insecurities: he molded his players through intense and irresistible force because, through them, they can achieve great heights that he was not able to do.
Upon seeing Shōyō Hinata succeed during the Spring Miyagi Prefectural Qualifiers, he still dismisses the idea that short people can also succeed in volleyball.
He even went so far as to give Shōyō a “ball boy” position when the latter sneaked into Shiratorizawa Academy’s 1st Year Camp.
Tanji was so stingy to Shōyō that he not only demeaned the middle blocker but also selfishly withholds Shiratorizawa Academy’s meals to the uninvited!
But upon witnessing the Kamomedai vs. Karasuno match during the Spring Quarter Finals, Tanji acknowledged he was wrong to quit volleyball at an early age.
Before him are two Little Giants battling ferociously in the Orange Court with sweat and tears: Kōrai Hoshiumi and Shōyō Hinata. Despite their short statures, neither was giving an inch for the opposing team to score!
His expectations for Shōyō soared high that his heart shouted: short people, including his former and younger self, DO have chances to stand and play on the court!
2Yasufumi Nekomata (Nekoma High)
Yasufumi Nekomata reminds me of a loving grandfather who dotes on his grandchildren.
When 8-year-old Tetsurō Kuroo and 7-year-old Kenma Kozume entered a volleyball training camp for the first time, they encountered coach Yasufumi.
For the children to experience the joy of succeeding, Yasufumi lowered the net for the boys so they can spike properly. He believes that personal change is required for evolutional growth!
While this simple act fueled Tetsurō’s love for volleyball, it irked Kenma! Ever since that weekend, Tetsurō became obnoxious; he annoyed Kenma constantly so the video-game-playing introvert can play volleyball.
Yasufumi returned to Nekoma High even after a short retirement so he can coach the school’s volleyball club.
His kind deed was rewarded because captain Tetsurō ensured the “Battle at the Garbage Dump” would become a reality before Yasufumi retired again.
Tetsurō even helped Kei Tsukishima improved his blocks during the Tokyo Training Camp. But more than helping a Karasuno rival, Tetsurō wants the “Cats vs. Crows Trash Heap” showdown to be epic!
If Nekoma can face off Karasuno at the Orange Court, that would be a dream come true for coach Yasufumi and his childhood rival, Ikkei Ukai.
For Tetsurō, teaching Kei was 50:50: he wants Kei to improve his blocks, but he also wants Karasuno to give their best during the “Trash Can” showdown!
Though Yasufumi possesses a joyful personality and laughs his cares away, he’s been a competitive volleyball player since middle school.
Competing against Ikkei Ukai since their middle school years fuels his desire to beat Karasuno High again!
1Ikkei Ukai (Karasuno High)
The best coach in Haikyū!! is Ikkei Ukai (Keishin’s grandfather)! It’s because of him that the “Ukai” family name has become a legend in Karasuno High’s Boys’ Volleyball Club history!
Ikkei is legendary because he led a previous generation of Karasuno High volleyball players (including the original “Little Giant”) to Tokyo Nationals. That’s why Keishin entrusted Shōyō Hinata to his grandfather when the latter fought with setter Tobio Kageyama.
One thing I love about Ikkei is how he taught Shōyō the “minus tempo attacks” (which were eventually utilized by Karasuno players as powerful arsenal weapons against difficult opponents)!
With Ikkei’s amazing record, faculty advisor Ittetsu Takeda believes that if the grandfather can do it, Keishin can also spread the current Karasuno players’ wings to fly!
And my word, Keishin succeeded in leading the boys to Tokyo Nationals; thereby, fulfilling his promise to his grandfather about the “Trash Heap” showdown.
Ikkei also has had a sad friendship-rivalry with Yasufumi Nekomata. They transitioned to coaches even before Ikkei defeated Yasufumi in an official match during their teen years.
Now, the only way Ikkei and Yasufumi can face off one another is through their teams’ practice matches; but even their teams did not succeed in facing off at Nationals! (Bummer!)
Ikkei retired, but Yasufumi returned to coach Nekoma High after a brief retirement.
And FINALLY, their friendship-rivalry through the “Promised Dumpster Showdown” became a reality when Karasuno faced off Nekoma during Round 3 of the Tokyo Spring Nationals.
It was a relief and a breather when Karasuno won the tournament with a 2:1 set point match!
When Keishin and Yasufumi shook hands, Ikkei also extended his even if he’s only watching the match from a television (signaling that the long-awaited “Garbage Dump Battle” between the “cats and crows” is worth waiting for).
Fuki Hibarida is the coach for Japan’s Men’s National Volleyball Team. He is worth mentioning because he brings positivity to Japan’s cream-of-the-crop players!
Not only does he possess a keen eye and an open mind to improve players’ abilities; he also commends short-statured players for their efforts and doesn’t discriminate against them (allowing Kōrai Hoshiumi to break the mold by participating in the Youth Camp at peak performance)!
Haikyū!! is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Haruichi Furudate. Its publication in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump began in February 2012 with 45 collected tankōbon volumes released.
Shōyō Hinata is a highly passionate boy who wishes to follow the steps of his idol, “The Little Giant”, in the field of volleyball. Shōyō’s resolve is unbreakable as he faces gruesome defeat at the hands of the “King of the Court” — a genius prodigy setter in middle school, Tobio Kageyama. Shōyō’s dreams take fruit as he enters high school.