Tryouts are here! Here are a few things you need to know while you select a team to play on.
“The amount of game-like repetitions with positive feedback” is the most important criteria that you can use for selecting a team to play on. Seniors are typically better than Freshman. College players are typically better than high school players. Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers” states you can become an expert in anything in 10,000 hours. While this isn’t 100% true, the principle holds for volleyball. The more court time you get, the better. But how does it apply direction?
You want to play in a system where you get lots of game like repetitions. You already know that this isn’t done on the bench. Find a place where you can maximize the amount of reps, or playing time can be achieved. While being a non starter typically isn’t a horrible things, AND the roughly 75% of club court time is in practices, you should know your role before you make a decision on joining a team.
Red flags? Coaches that talk too much, or spend over 10% of their practice time talking. Some coaches love to listen to their own voice. This is a warning sign for two reasons. One, they don’t know the most important factor for an athletes success and two, it maybe signs of ego.
Another red flag is drills that aren’t game like. The best way to get good at volleyball is through GAME LIKE repetitions. Pepper - for example, isn’t game like. Every coach does it, but that doesn’t make it game like. A game doesn’t have two people on the same side of the court digging, setting, and hitting at each other. The more “across the net” drills, typically, the more game like they are.
What is positive feedback? If the coach is giving feedback, simple positive feedback, this is a good sign. It’s informational, not emotional. When a coach is giving feedback, it’s usually focused on what an athlete needs to change or is perhaps how they are performing a skill incorrectly. Good coaches also verbally reward correct performance.
Next, what kind of environment does the coach or club have? What kind of culture do they have? Does it feel like you are a part of something good? Does the staff smile? Do they use the players name? Do they have a good reputation? They are going to spend more time with their coach over the next few months than anyone else. Do some research on the coach. Ask former players, or last years team, or even club directors, or other coaches in the club. Listen to their responses and also, trust your gut and your instincts. It’s ok to make decisions based on “it didn’t feel right”.