Around the country clubs are either in the midst of club tryouts or looking ahead to high school or club tryouts. Given the current health conditions in our country due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Directors and Coaches will be faced with some considerations to modify the tryout process. Here are 4 key places to begin.
As your club plans for tryouts, it is important to communicate as much information as possible to parents and players, especially on your website. Have a dedicated page for COVID-19 Tryout Protocols that includes waivers, protocols, best practices and registration. Plus, there are new age definitions for the 2020-2021 season that JVA, USAV and AAU are all in agreement on that you need to communicate with your athletes and parents.
To avoid a large parent information meeting, consider having a separate meeting for each age division to keep the attendance low. You could host an outdoor meeting which would allow for social distancing, however weather conditions could interfere. You can attempt to limit the number of calls and emails you receive by creating an FAQ which answers commonly expected questions that can be placed on your website and printed off to handout at tryouts. Parents will want to know items such as the club’s refund policy, how you will respond if an athlete or coach tests positive for Coronavirus or what will happen if High School season moves to the spring? . What happens if High School season moves to the spring? The FAQ can include contact information for the Club Director or Program Director who will address all questions in a timely manner.
2. Tryout Format
The format you use for tryouts will highly depend on the number of courts you have access to. Last year’s tryout plan that consisted of 30 athletes per court should be modified to keep only 10-15 athletes per court. You can consider having each position come in for a one hour skill evaluation, and then return for another hour entirely for scrimmaging. Your staff may need to get creative with restructuring to fit a lower number of athletes per number of courts.
Some clubs still share tryout results at the end of the tryout and gather the entire team together for a photo after acceptance. In order to maintain social distancing you can consider sharing all tryout results via email or phone call afterwards, rather than in person.
3. Payment Structure
Parents need reassurance during this time, especially after experiencing the abrupt end to this past season. If the season is cancelled or put on hold, your club should have a refund policy in place which attempts to cover various scenarios and ensures that parents agree to and sign off on that policy. With the unpredictability of the tournament season, clubs could consider adjusting their payment structure to front load the cost of the uniforms/team performance wear and the cost for training.
Your club can offer sports fee insurance to your families that insures the financial commitment parents make to have their athlete on a team. This can alleviate the burden for parents heading into a season with so much uncertainty.
4. Accommodating Special Cases
Your club’s ability to accommodate your athletes and families during this time will pay huge dividends on your club’s loyalty and retention rate. This is not the time to ostracize individuals for their differences or special requests so that you can enforce one way or the highway. If an athlete is not comfortable with attending tryouts as scheduled, consider some alternative tryout options. Some athletes may live with their grandparents, have a high risk family member or be immunocompromised themselves. How can your club still evaluate those athletes that don’t feel comfortable going inside right now? Consider a video tryout, outdoor event, or even a one-on-one tryout with a few coaches evaluating from a distance. Ensure that all athletes are provided with the same opportunity as the others.
There are many moving parts that exist today, that did not exist this time last year. Club directors and their staff are working tirelessly to plan for a safe 2020-2021 club season. As we look ahead to what we hope can be a fulfilling club season, let’s keep doing our part to take care of the most important component to the juniors volleyball season: the athletes.