The anticipation of tryouts is filled with a lot of questions and concerns for players and players. Deciding where to tryout and how many clubs to tryout for is just the start. Below are some tryout tips to act as a guide or check list in hopes of making the process easier so you feel good about your decision.
How Do We Choose a Club?
1. Easy Thing First – What are your Choices?
- Identify your age division
There are two major club affiliations: USAV and AAU. Both have the same September 1 Birthday Cut-off
- What Clubs are in my area? Check your USAV region and AAU District web pages for clubs in your area. Search for clubs on Google.
- Determine how far you are willing to travel.
2. Do Your Research
- Visit the club website, contact the club director, attend a parent meeting, and talk to other parents who have played for the club.
- What is it going to cost me? Club volleyball can be very expensive. There are ways to minimize the expense. How much travel is expected? Does the club have an in-house program that provides training and limits travel? Does the club have a fund raising program or fees based on income? Does the team travel as a group to out-of-town tournaments or does a parent need to travel with the athlete?
- Club Dues and Add On Fees: Find out what is included in your dues and what the payment schedule is. The typical club expenses: administration, court rental, equipment, coaches’ stipends, uniforms, tournament fees, tournament travel, and coaches’ travel expenses. If there are costs outside of club dues, find out what they are and how they are assessed.
- Practice Schedule: How often and where do the teams train? What if I miss practice?
- Tournament Schedule:What is the typical tournament schedule? What if I am unavailable for a tournament?
- Coaching Staff: Who are the coaches at my age level and what is their experience? Does the club have someone who oversees the training plan or does each coach prepare their own training plan?
- Club Philosophy: This is probably the hardest nut to crack. Many clubs promote themselves as “elite” or “premier”, but are they really? What does that mean to them? Do you need a premier club? What are your athlete’s goals after grade school/after high school? Find out how long the club has been in existence. If they truly are premier, they will have a track record in the business. While every club wants to win, how does the club make sure that every athlete is valued? Look for affiliations like Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) or Junior Volleyball Association (JVA). These are groups that offer resources and education to clubs who prioritize the health and welfare of the athletes.
- How Do I Join? Most clubs select their member through a tryout process. Ask how the tryout process is managed.
3. Common Myths
- Bigger is better
- A #1 team in any club is better than a #2 team in any club
- More expensive is better
- A paid coach is better than a volunteer coach
- A coach who played DI is better than a coach who never played at a high level
- If I play club volleyball, I will get a scholarship
4. Questions to Discuss as a Family
- What do I want out of my club experience: enjoy the game with friends and/or train to have an opportunity to play in college?
- How much time do I have to dedicate to club volleyball: will it interfere with a part-time job, with school, with other club sports or time with friends?
- How much can we afford: dues, travel, family travel?
- How important is it that I am on the same team as my friend(s)?
How do We Manage Tryouts?
Once you’ve done your research on the club(s) in your area, and discussed your options as a family, you are ready for the next step.
Tryouts Identify the clubs that you have decided fit your needs and match your goals. Follow the registration process required by the club. Know what the tryout rules are for your area.
- Know before going into a tryout where that club fits into your choice list.
- Arrive early properly attired. If a tryout shirt is not provided, wear something noticeable that will stand out.
- Check yourself in (do not let your mom or dad do it for you)
- Speak for yourself
- Follow directions
- Hustle at all times: from station to station, shagging balls, huddle-up.
- Have fun – smile, be loud, encourage your teammates
- It takes no athletic ability to hustle, work hard and have a great attitude!
It is a tryout, not a clinic. It is your job to show the coaches what you can do. Kids will be moving from court to court. No matter what, keep working hard and keep having fun. Before you leave, make sure you know how and when selections are made. If the club is #1 on your choice list and you get an offer, take it – don’t make the club wait. If you don’t get an offer from your 1st choice and you haven’t been given an indication of your status, call the club director and ask if there is a depth chart and where you are on that chart.
Junior club volleyball can be the best experience of your life but it is your responsibility to do the research and find the right fit.
Good luck this season!
For more education for junior volleyball players click here.