January 4, 2011

High performance

Hi Coach,

We're a bit unfortunate in that we live in a pretty rural area, and are an hour and a half or more away from any traveling club team that might compete at one of the national qualifying tournaments. I recently heard though that there is something called a "High Performance Clinic" held at each tournament...maybe the night prior to the tournament start? It's apparently open to anyone...not just players on one of the competing teams. The girls (or boys) play in some sort of queen/king of the court drill for an hour or two, and there are college coaches that use that as an opportunity to see more of the athletes.

Is this true? Is this an opportunity for a young athlete to get seen who doesn't have access to a traveling team? If so could you describe it in more detail?

Thanks - VB Dad

USA Volleyball conducts a number of tryouts in support of its High Performance program. You can find all the details here. The Tryout is open for any anyone and is usually held the night before a National Qualifier (and other tourneys). Don't get the Tryout confused with a Camp - The tryout is simply that, just a tryout (which you have to pay for) for the opportunity to get selected for the six different levels of the High Performance program.

I can't say for sure the attendance by college coaches, but my instinct is that the numbers may be a bit low because night before a tourney, many coaches are just rolling into town. The big tourneys will now run 3 days, and after a long regular season, most coaches really don't want to spend 3 + days in a recruiting situation. Also remember that the morning after the tryout, college coaches will see all the players on our recruiting lists in a better environment to evaluate talent than a HP tryout.

If your daughter was already playing in the tourney, then I would not do the tryout. But, as you indicate, your daughter may not compete with a club program which enters the National Qualifier tourneys, then maybe this tryout may be something to explore. Please know that this is not a camp and there will be very little, if any, instruction going on - It is just more the players showcasing current skills.

I have never attended a High Performance Tryout, so I cannot describe the protocol and/or organization of the clinic. From reading through the information on the USA Volleyball website, the tryout lasts three hours. One thing to remember, is that USA Volleyball espouses certain training styles within their junior programs which high school and/or college programs don't support - This impacts how players might move up or down with different skill groups.

A concern that I, and many other college coaches have, with the High Performance programs is they are just veiled efforts by USA Volleyball to generate income. On the opening page of the High Performance information it says, "The HP Program at USA Volleyball is the "pipeline" for young volleyball athletes who aspire to reach the elite level of their sport and who dream to one day represent the USA on the National Men's or Women's Volleyball Team." and then USA Volleyball offers six different levels/categories for players to keep the dream alive. College coaches become suspect because outside of the top 20 seniors (and this is generous) in each college volleyball season, no player is going to make one of the top National Teams. But, when you do the math, once again provide by the USA website, the HP Tryout system alone generates a lot of revenue (4,000 athletes paying between $65 to $100.00 for a 3 hour tryout).

I would suggest going to one if your daughter does not play in any National Qualifiers, but please pick the closest HP Tryout to your home. Worst case, you spend money, your daughter gets to touch the ball for a couple of hours and maybe practice with players who can help her get better. Best case, she gets quality training, interacts with good players and gets some exposure during the event to a respectable number of college volleyball coaches.

Good luck - Coach

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