We are now to that part of the volleyball season when tryouts begin. In many cases, THE TRYOUT is harder on the parents than the player. If it seems that the clubs all have their tryouts at the same time, well, they do and it’s on purpose. The thinking of these clubs is to place their tryout at such a time that it requires parents to choose between clubs. I know of one club that intentionally moved its tryout to conflict with the times of other clubs after it discovered the times of other clubs’ tryouts.
It is important to know a few points that can help your daughter make a club team. These points do not guarantee that your child will make the team or club that your family wants to make but they will certainly help.
CHOOSE WISELY. This can be emotionally draining on the family. It does no one any good to attempt to make a team that normally has players far more advanced and skilled than your sweet daughter. If your daughter wants to tryout with a club that is above her talent level, please take on the role of a parent (this is not the time to be her friend) and let her know that she would not be happy on that club. It is also a time for the parents to be realistic. As previously stated, many clubs will have their tryouts at the same time, hence, make sure you choose the club which provides the best chances for your daughter to make the team. Limit your choices to two or three clubs. Hopefully, you and your daughter have attended some of the pre-tryouts and the open gyms and have a gathered enough information to be able to discern among the clubs and choose the two or three that are best suited for your daughter’s talents and capabilities.
GO TO THE FIRST TRYOUT Clubs will normally have at least two tryout sessions. Many require the players to attend both tryout sessions. With highly competitive teams, it is normal for the coaches to hand out most, if not all, of their offers at the first tryout. At the first tryout session, coaches are at their freshest and best condition (not yet numb to the hours of tryouts). If you are not able to attend the second tryout, let the coach know that so he/she has an opportunity to make an offer to your child before you leave.
DO NOT SUCCUMB TO THE PRESSURE. There is a very familiar scenario that I’ve heard about over the years. Invariably, a parent will tell me that a certain club told them, “If you walk out of this tryout and you don’t accept our offer now, then your daughter will not play for us.” This is undue pressure and is against the rules. You are allowed until midnight of the Wednesday following the tryout to accept an offer. If these people act this way during the tryout, what does that tell you regarding how they will act when they are under pressure? I don’t have time to spend one minute of my life with those type of people.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE BOLD (BUT POLITE) One of the pictures that comes up on my screen saver is a picture of the team that Meredith and I coach last year. Due to the efforts of the players, our 16U team had the highest head-to-head points of all teams from 14 through 18U. The reason I state this is because of K. Last year, my club had two tryouts. As we were well into the second tryout session, a Dennis, a dad, came up to me and, in a very polite manner, informed me that he was concern that I had not noticed his daughter during the tryouts. At first, I thought, “Oh no, another one of THOSE dads!” Well, I am so thankful that Dennis brought my oversight to my attention! As it turned out, K was an excellent player and I was very surprised that not only had she not been chosen by the top team in the 16U age bracket but that I had not noticed her. You see, K became one of my captains, a leader by example and my No. 1 outside hitter. If Dennis, K’s dad, had not come up to me, and in a polite way advised me of his daughter, our club would not have done as well as it did. Don’t be afraid to point out your daughter to the coaches, if you think they have not seen her. During the tryouts, watch the coaches, see what they are doing. Are they looking at all the girls? Have they watched your daughter? There are usually 60 — 100 girls trying out for 10 — 20 spots. In a majority of the time, coaches are doing their best to watch every girl during the tryout. Don’t worry if all the coaches don’t watch your daughter. Sometimes, the coaches split up so they can examine more players.
HOLD THAT POSE! As stated above, there are 60 — 100 girls if not more, competing for 10 – 20 spots. A player needs to do something to get noticed. Usually that means making a big impression on the coaches with big hits, big serves, perfect setting form, and/or perfect passing form. When it comes to setting and passing, the player should hold the form for a split second after making contact with the ball. This allows the coach to turn their head to see who made that pass or set. When they turn their head to the player, if the player has held their position for a fraction of a second, the coach will be able to see their form. This makes an impact in the coach’s brain.
PLAY WITHIN YOURSELF To play within yourself means that the player should try to do something that they are not used to doing. Don’t reach to pass a ball that is out of your range. Instead open up for the other player. This shows the coach that the player knows their area of responsibility and that they will not be a player that gets in everyone’s way while running all over the court.
BE VOCAL This past Sunday during a pre-tryout, we stopped the drill we were doing and told the girls to be intense and to communicate. We asked them to be vocal and talk about what is happening on the court. On the very next free ball tossed in by one of the coaches, I saw two girls who had their mouths shut. Not a word. When I say to be “vocal”, I mean that I want a player to tell her teammates about the position of the ball, will the hit be a tip, will it be cross or a line hit. When the ball comes to the back row, who is going to get it. If a player is not going to get it, then yell, “GO” and turn in the direction of the person who is setting up to pass the ball. It isn’t just being vocal that coaches want; it is being vocal about the right things. When a player is vocal about the right things, that player is letting a coach know that she has “volleyball smarts” — this person has played before and has experience picking up the ball on the court. Another name for this is “court awareness”.