Well, I hope you made it healthy and happy through the onslaught of college volleyball coaches just aching to get back on the recruiting trail!!! In my younger coaching days, I was not for the increased length of the Quiet and Dead Periods because I wanted the ability to recruit when I wished to recruit. But now, I actually want longer down periods because it provides an excuse not to recruit and thus have a bit more balance between work and play.
From my first weekend back on the road and watching a few different age ranges of Club Volleyball, a few things caught my attention:
- I do not agree with club tournaments charging admission. As a college coach, I rarely get asked to pay and if I do, my school will cover the cost. My issue with club tournaments charging an entrance fee relates to double taxation. Club Volleyball tournaments are attended by the families of the players; rarely are there non-relatives in attendance. The family has already paid the tournament entrance fee for their daughter to play, and now they are being charged again to come watch. It is a double volleyball tax.
If club volleyball events were attended by non-related volleyball fans and/or casual sports fans, then I could financially understand the rationale of capturing some extra revenue for the host site. But to charge a fee for families to watch their own children play, when they are already out of pocket hundreds of dollars a month just reeks of greed. And people hypocritically wonder why club volleyball is game for upper middle class families.
Should host club teams be under financial stress because a site demands too much of a fee, then add money to the team entrance fee while stating that admission will not be charged for the event. Or, charge .50 cents more for a bottle of water. Or, charge another two dollars for a t-shirt. Or, hold a raffle for a volleyball bag or bag of potato chips. Find a way to capture that needed additional revenue without asking Grandma and Grandpa to pay to see their grandchild play the sport of volleyball.
I cannot relate the charging of admission to high school events to the charging of Club Volleyball. High school events are attended by many non-relatives and with shrinking budgets, an entrance fee can help an athletic department at the end of the fiscal year. In addition, income/property/sales taxes will be paid by all folks and those moneys will be allocated to many different needs throughout the community. A family will pay taxes no matter if their child plays sports or plays the lead in Romeo and Juliet.
I was stunned to see USA Volleyball charge a ticket fee to watch the National Qualifiers a few years ago (charge the college coaches a larger fee - but not families) and now this formula has made its way down to the most local of events. For all too many families, the cost of club volleyball is a burden and squeezing an extra dollar out of them is poor.
- By the age of 16's club, players should know the game and how to play it properly. Not as an expert, not all the nuances that a player understands when they retire but how to play the game. Some mistakes that I routinely witnessed with 16's and up:
Sending free balls high and soft to the opponent in the center of the court. All free balls should be put into area 1 or 2 (right back or right front) - Why you ask? Because it forces the setter to turn their head and torso away from parallel to the net, it may catch the defense being slow on a free ball position shift and most players will pass the ball straight ahead (as opposed to the setting area), thus making the space available to run a slide smaller and the set to the left side hitter much longer.
Setting the back row on any broken play ball. I see this happen way too much; the mass majority of club volleyball players will not be effective attacking back row, so there is no statistical reason to set back row. All players, just not the setter, should set any broken play ball front row (unless of course it is the front row hitter who is broken) to be attacked. The odds are much better of getting a kill by a front row attacker, not to mention reducing the opportunity of the defense to re attack with success. Setting back row is mentally undisciplined and the easy way out.
Poor footwork in serve receive. Serving on the small Sport Courts employed by many sites makes the serve slow and weak. Because of the facility limitations (and little sister walking by, being chased by Grandma (Grandma is in this post a lot!)), servers are not cranking the ball - it is soft and easy to pass. The passers have no excuse for not moving their feet and getting their full torso behind the ball to pass. If your body is behind the ball and your passing platform pushes towards the net, then the ball should get somewhere near the net for the setter to manage. I shake my head when I see players being very lazy and only taking one step, then reaching to pass balls that the server could easily shout "FREE" before tossing.
If passers (the OH's and Liberos, since seeing a Middle Blocker pass is like seeing my youth) cannot handle serves in club volleyball, then the serves in college volleyball will be a rude awakening. One of the reasons that freshman passers tend to struggle is because they were raised on a diet of easy club serves.
- It is disheartening to see the same referee working a club event that also referees my college volleyball matches make the same mistakes. If an official will not overrule a 16 year old lines person on a ball that was clearly called incorrectly, then something is wrong. The speed of the club game alone should make touches and in/out calls easy to determine (I understand using sound to help make calls it not an option at club events). I am not sure if there tends to be a bit more leeway with double hit calls, since club volleyball is developmental in nature, but lots of garbage is allowed.
It troubles me when I see the same errors in judgement being made by these officials at the college level - and contrary to what any official says, questioning judgement is always allowed. Funny idea which officials try to push upon coaches is that we cannot question judgement - What are we supposed to question, hair style? All officiating is judgement.
I would hope that after refereeing college volleyball, blowing the whistle on a club match would be very easy. End the end, it just teaches me to not get upset because if officials can't get it right for two teams that barely can touch the top of the net, how are they going to get it right for college players. This is probably what referees would wish for anyways, me being mellow.
Hope everyone enjoyed the Holiday weekend!