As a coach and father of a dedicated and aspiring 15 year old beach volleyball player it can become confusing and overwhelming when deciding which tournaments to compete in. Below are a few variables to consider in order to have a better perspective on choosing beach tournaments that are best for your players.
LEVEL OF THE PLAYER
This is a good starting point.
Is your player just beginning to learn the game?
- If so you might want to find some other players with similar ability and passion and start there.
- Look for tournaments that have lower levels of players so that your kids can learn and not have their spirits crushed when the next young Kerri Walsh shows up and doesn’t give up a point.
- A coach’s solution to this is to call the tournament director and let them know that you are interested in playing in their event and include the level of players you would like to bring. Also, ask the format and if there will be playoffs for everyone (the best events will separate the playoffs into 2 divisions so all competitors have an opportunity to play more games and compete against players their own skill level. I don’t know a tournament director that would not take your call as at the end of the day they are happy to have more teams compete, and hopefully are there to grow the game.
Is your player elite and you want to see how she/he stacks up against the best competition?
- Again call the tournament director and ask the same questions. Once you have the appropriate answers you will know if this tournament is a good fit for your player’s needs.
- If the director feels the level isn’t high enough ask if there is also an adult division. Most events around the country are increasing in numbers on the adult side, as college coaches are preferring that high level kids compete against adults so they can learn more.
- Lastly ask if there are any college coaches coming to the event as that might override most requirements if your player is looking for more exposure to college coaches.
A player at any level is ready to play in a tournament.
692 Beach Club Director Scott Stover adds “I often have players ask me “do you think I’m ready to play in a tournament?” My answer is always YES. The more events you play in, the faster you are going to develop as a player. Playing in a competitive setting is critical to your development as a player. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, just get out there!”
692’s year round elite players will play in as many as 30 tournaments per year.
Lets face it. Parents and coaches talk. There is usually enough truth to a rumor that Bob runs a much better tournament then Sara. Do your own investigating and find out what other coaches and parents are saying. The last thing you want to do is take your players to a tournament that you “heard” was not great in the past and go anyway to find out for yourself. You most likely will be disappointed, and your parents and kids will be upset with you for not choosing better tournaments to compete in. Do your homework and see if this director truly works hard to make sure that the event is run professionally and efficiently. There are a lot of great tournament directors out there!
Don’t play in a tournament because there aren’t any other tournaments up the street from you. Don’t be lazy, be better. Think about it as an indoor director would. Do indoor directors set up all of your tournaments based on convenience or are they scheduling super-regionals and national qualifiers and better competition tournaments for their teams to travel to? You have to look at beach events the same way. There is a lot to be said about a tournament that is attracting college coaches or elite players. These are the tournaments that players of all levels should compete in to see what is actually out there and hopefully inspire them to become better volleyball players. Florida, Texas, and California all have junior championship events that are the best in the country. Don’t let location dictate your decision.
Stover encourages all of his players to travel out of town for tournaments.
“I feel like you’re missing out on the full experience if you are not traveling. I encourage my players to play in as many tournaments as they can, regardless of level.“
To help his players develop a playing schedule, Stover places certain events on the schedule and the players fill in the open weekends with events they choose on their own.
Below are junior beach event listings:
For related reading on junior beach volleyball click here.
About the Author
Albert “AL-B” Hannemann is the founder of the National Volleyball League and director of the Club Med NVL Volleyball Academies in Port St Lucie, FL. They are hosting their 4th Annual Global Challenge Junior National Championship event July 19-25 which features competitors from all over the world and a college ready camp with over 15 top college programs from across the country.
Dr. Scott Stover is the National Director of 692, which he formed in 2005, and a JVA Club Director. Scott has coached for 26 years at every level from high school, to club, to division one college programs at SMU and TWU. He has been coaching beach volleyball for 11 years at 692, and was chosen to be one of three coaches to go to Russia in 2010 with the USA Beach program. He was selected to be a speaker for a JVA beach classroom session at the American Volleyball Coaches Association Convention in 2015. Scott has developed many of the top beach juniors players in the country over the last nine years. He has coached 9 teams to national championships on the USA Beach Tour and the BVCA and had dozens of players selected to train at the US Olympic Training Center each year.