Many assume that grass volleyball tournaments are for adults who are past their prime, or those who missed the opportunity to play at a young age so they give grass volleyball a try.  However, grass volleyball leagues and tournaments are an excellent opportunity to develop young volleyball athletes, and enhance your club’s offerings during the summer.

Here are some ways to incorporate grass volleyball into your club programming, along with the benefits and considerations you can plan for:

Host a grass tournament

The AAU is hosting the first ever junior girls grass volleyball championships July 23-25, 2021 for 12U-18U athletes in Floresville, Texas. The event is hosted by TNT SA Sports LLC, 20 minutes from San Antonio.  The idea for grass volleyball came about in the heart of the pandemic in June of 2020 when the indoor facilities were shut down. The only option for playing volleyball outdoors at the time was beach volleyball. TNT quickly maxed out their beach facilities, so they considered the idea of hosting 4 vs 4 grass tournaments at local parks which were open to the public. They utilized public parks with portable nets to set up a cost-effective event to service the volleyball enthusiast for both juniors and adults.

“We hosted a few tournaments in the summer of last year to see what the turnout would be and we experienced so much success” says David C Rodriguez TNT SA Sports Founder and Director. “The organization felt that there was so much opportunity for grass volleyball. We had done some research and found that although many organizations ran adult grass championships, there were no major grass volleyball tournaments or championships for juniors.”

David pitched the idea to the leaders of the AAU Volleyball and they allowed TNT SA Sports to run the inaugural AAU Junior Girls Grass Volleyball Championships. Inquires having been coming in from teams from all over the United States including teams from Puerto Rico. If you are interested in learning more about this event click here.

Host a grass league

Milwaukee Sting Volleyball Club will run a 5 week boys triples grass volleyball league at a local park from July 7th through August 4th with playoffs beginning on Aug 11th. Week 5 is a semi-seeded tournament format based on results from the previous four weeks. Teams receive two matches per night for $200/athlete. Milwaukee Sting anticipates having approximately 20 grass triples teams this summer, run in a round robin format recording wins and loses.

The boys grass league is a great way to grow your boys program and keep the boys playing in a competitive program in the off season. The cost is low to run the league and you only need one main contact to handle the schedule and communication with teams. When the boys teams show up at the park, every team helps set up and take down all the nets. League Coordinator Sara Voigt will have all of the areas measured out and marked to help the teams set nets up more evenly. During play she helps enforce the grass rules since some of the rules differ from indoor and sand.

I looked into many parks around the area, mainly ones with nice level softball outfields (not used for softball anymore) because those are prime areas for grass”, shares Voigt. Lumpy and uneven terrain do not work well with grass volleyball.  Park permits are tricky so allow at least three to four months to go through the steps of securing a nice grass location.”
Collaborate with local event promoters

Tidewater Volleyball Association added grass volleyball courts behind one of their new facilities in Portsmouth, Virginia, which allowed them to expand their grass volleyball offerings. During COVID, they ran leagues and several grass tournaments to provide an opportunity for their athletes to train and compete. They focus on partnering with two local grass even promoters to help support the grass tournaments. They held a grass tournament in May and have another one scheduled for September for adults and juniors.

“Our volleyball community has done a great job working together to support each other,” says TVA Executive Director Kris Wojieck. “By encouraging collaboration, TVA and all these other organizations create an environment of comradery and good sportsmanship, allowing for players, new and old, advanced and beginner, to play a sport that we love and want to see it grow.  TVA’s membership numbers have increased this past year. We strive to provide our members a great sense of community, and I believe that we have been able to do that, which has been a bonus through COVID.”
Grass volleyball encourages a “pick up style” that kids desperately need, but have been having fewer opportunities to play because of the structure that comes with competitive volleyball. Kris believes that grass, just like sand, welcomes all levels and will continue to grow because of its recreational appeal.
Considerations
  • If you are using public spaces be aware that you may have to work around some logistical issues such as scheduling around other activities in that space, the quality of the grass, and the labor it takes to set up and tear down the courts.
  • The weather will play a big role in the financial stability of a league or tournaments.
  • Know your market. If many girls are competing for the sand program, target the boys.

Northern Virginia Volleyball Association purchased another club called Fairfax Volleyball Club and they used to run grass volleyball events. NVVA took over those events upon purchase, however over time they decided that logistically it was not the best move for their club.

“I believe that if you can run grass events on your own grass (part of your facility) or at a friendly public space, it can be very beneficial for your club from a marketing perspective or for profit” shares NVVA President/CEO Rodrigo Gomez.
Are you starting a new program at your club this season? Share it with us by contacting members@jvavolleyball.org.
This article was written by Briana Schunzel, JVA Director of Marketing, Education and Partner Development.