Julie Kaiser is a respected local club coaches here in San Diego. She took the time to write a very informative piece on Club Volleyball. It is my privilege to pass this on from one of her newsletters. Thanks Julie!!
CLUB VOLLEYBALL 101
Trying to find the best “fit” in a club team or program can be a challenge and emotionally draining for the athlete, parent, and even the club coach and administrator. You start the hunting process, but: Where do you start? What should you be looking for? How do you decide what’s best for you? What if I make the wrong decision?
There is a lot of muddy water to wade through. But if you approach this 2-3 week selection process informed and with focus, the stress can be far less taxing on everyone.
Club Tryout Selection
Prioritize your options for tryouts. Do NOT attend a tryout if you have no intention of playing for that club. You’re wasting everyone’s time and energy, including your own. To find the club team best suited for your needs, rank the priorities listed below. See what club best meets your top 3 priorities:
Convenience of location
Price of programs offered
Team level of play
Coach’s knowledge, education, experience, and reputation
Your anticipated play time (carrying 3 setters on a team is not a good sign if you’re a setter)
Do your research. Draw up a comparison sheet listing your top 3 priorities and rank each club on their potential to meet your needs. If price is a problem, speak with the club director and see what alternatives they have to offer. Most clubs DO offer a ‘work for dues’ or other programs to help you meet your financial commitment.
At tryouts, attend a minimum of 2. Some clubs offer free tryouts. Go, if you feel compelled. Then plan to tryout at 2 more. More than 3 tryouts and you’re probably wasting your efforts.
Red Flag Warnings
If you are attending a tryout, be aware of these tactics that coaches or parents might use to influence your decision:
The ‘other’ coach isn’t any good. They can’t help you improve
Your last club coach didn’t do his or her job
Don’t tryout there; they’ve already picked their team
We can get you a scholarship for college
Pressure to commit before the final tryout
Join now or we’ll give your spot away
If you think you missed out as a middle school aged player, think again! Almost every club in the area has positions to fill on at least one team. Maybe it’s you!
There may be 10 to 100 others athletes involved. If you’re new or don’t know the coaches, is it smart to wear something noticeable? You bet! I find the funky cat print or neon green and black spandex very distracting. Your high school t-shirt will also help evaluators remember you beyond your assigned number. Tie-dye and bright or unique tops do help to get you looked at. I personally consider it disrespectful to wear another club’s t-shirt to a tryout. It also puts your true availability to play for that club at question.
Be noisy and energetic, but not obnoxious. Play hard and be aggressive, but avoid running into walls or going after balls that are way out of your zone. There is comfort in finding a friend to tryout with or talking with one of the coaches you ‘kinda’ know. Remember, Mom and Dad are usually right, so if they say go for it, GO!
Keep in mind you aren’t the only one being evaluated. You are an evaluator yourself. Are the coaches friendly? Do you feel welcome? Are the drills somewhat organized? Could you see yourself playing here? Remember YOU are the client. The club only provides the service.
Making Your Selection
Club with facility vs. club without facility
Everyone endures schedule changes and adjustments. Clubs who have their own facility can be more convenient for travel consistency plus offer other amenities, but they’re usually also a basic warehouse with minimal climate control: hot in the summer and doggone cold in the winter. Self contained (school) gyms can offer more climate control. The pros and cons do not clearly point to a recommendation in regard to practice location selection for most.
Anxiety, Disappointment, Tears, and Settling In
Not making the team: You may not make the team you “want”. If that’s the case, you should have your back up plan ready. And water polo is NOT the back up plan. The team YOU want to join may not be a good fit for you or the team. That’s most likely why you did not get selected. Accept the decision as best you can and force yourself to move on. Denial, hating the club and coach, feeling like a failure, and wallowing in self-pity are all part of the process in being rejected. I know from first hand experience. But only YOU can decide where your passion lies, and only YOU can choose to go beyond your sad emotions and continue the volleyball career path that fits you.
For the rest of us: Within the first 2 weeks of tryouts, you will be given the opportunity to join a team. Some clubs even offer on the first day. If the club or team of your dreams invites you to join, and you know your coach and team mates, then go ahead and commit. However, for the 99% of the rest of you, I highly recommend completing as many tryouts as possible. If you’re offered a position on a team, and want to wait and see what another club’s offer might be, just say so. Don’t be bullied into a commitment. If your tryout pool had more than 50 participants, your offer to join a team will come later. Good clubs want to be fair and do not rush into setting teams until at least half way through tryouts. You’re paying for an evaluation and the coaches work to rank players according to their level of play AND position. So if you had a bad day, you do get another chance (or 3) to be seen.
Making the decision: So you have your 2 options. Go back to page 1 of this document and look at what your priorities are. Which of these teams best meet your needs? In the end, if you truly are struggling between your options, which coach makes you feel most comfortable? Not in a warm and fuzzy sort of way, but projects confidence, appears to confront conflicts as opposed to ignoring them? Which team seems to be most excited and ready to go? I guarantee you one of those teams “feels right”. Once you know your decision, make your commitment and notify the other clubs that you have decided to go elsewhere. It’s important to realize that once you turn down a club team, it immediately opens an opportunity for another player who’s waiting for their invitation. The process needs to be as quick and immediate as possible. Do not delay notification!
In the end, there will be uncontrollable situations that we all have to work with and endure or tolerate. Good news is that we learn from these experiences and try to invent ways to avoid train wrecks. Tryouts are as much a lesson about life as the sport of volleyball.
OMG! I’m on the wrong team!
Before opting to change club teams, be sure you understand the paperwork you signed and the commitment you made originally. You may be obligated to pay part or all fees to your original club. You also need to weigh the impact your departure will have on the team you are leaving.
Above all else, be sure and pay off your club debt. If Club A tells Club B you have an outstanding balance, chances are really good Club B will see you as a financial liability and insist you straighten out your matters with Club A before they will sign you onto their program. Clubs incur expense. Athlete fees pay for these expenses. Leaving a club in debt is not an option.
Good luck and know it’ll all be behind you soon!