November 25, 2007

How to Play in Club Tournaments

So, you are going off to a big club tournament, crawling with a number of college programs there to scout you. Should you play any different at this big tournament, than the local one you were at last week where the only people there were parents?

The answer - No and Yes.

First the No: You do not have the power to significantly change how well you play - other than having a slighter better match or slightly worse match, you are still the same player no matter what venue you are in. Since you cannot instantly elevate your skills to the next level, do not even worry about trying to play 'better' in the big tournament. Let go of that thought because all it will do is create unwanted pressure.

Now the Yes: You need to display your best volleyball identity at the large tournaments where college programs are evaluating Prospective Student Athletes (PSA's). This is no different than going out on a date - you can't change who you are, but you can look and act your best. In a very real sense, you are making a non-verbal statement to all the college coaches about you as a volleyball player and as a person.

As direct as this may sound, if you have reached the Club volleyball playing age where college coaches are significant (17's and older), you must respect what these big tournaments represent. You and/or your parents have invested money (sometimes a lot of money) into providing this opportunity of displaying your talent to individuals who will pay for all of your expenses to graduate from college. This is the time and place to be the best version of yourself.

When trying to put forth your best face, these are things that usually impress me about players at Club tournaments:

- They are relaxed but not silly or acting goofy.

- Focus during the warm-up is evident - good effort on every touch and not looking off into the crowd.

- When they make a great play, they celebrate with their team mates.

- When their team mate makes a great play, they celebrate with that player.

- On those games when a player is struggling, they don't lose focus - no negative outbursts, no sour faces, no selfish action; they just keep working hard and staying positive.

- The wins should be celebrated and the losses should sting a little. Too many times the wins and losses are blown off, because another match is coming quickly - I need to see from a PSA that winning and losing matters.

- Being respectful of coaches and parents. No matter how great you played or how big a stud you are, parents and coaches are adults and should be treated as such.

Because of Division I rules, these Club tournaments are your tryout for college volleyball programs - Division II can have you tryout or train with the team, so coaches can get a very good feel for you as a person and player.

Please be relaxed, focus and play with sincere intensity - these are the characteristics that colleges coaches evaluate, beyond your physical ability. The good programs are very aware of your non-playing abilities because they know that bad or selfish attitudes can wreck a good physical team.

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