February 16, 2011

Reduced Playing time

Hello! Your site has been very helpful and informative. Our daughter (who is a junior in high school) is playing 17U National this year with the same club as last year. She was a key team member on the 16U National team last year and earned significant playing time. This year the team has a new coach and a few new talented players. Our daughter's role has been significantly reduced. She has addressed this with the new coach but the coach is not receptive to her concerns. Because of her significant playing time for both club and high school last year our daughter was able to create a highlights video that showcases her skills. She has used that to contact college coaches and has received very good responses from all levels of schools. The dilemma is that with reduced playing time (about 20% of what she was playing) will the college coaches who said they would come to evaluate her really get much of a chance? Any advice would be appreciated. Anonymous

Thank you for the compliment on the site, and I am happy to know it helps.

Each new season will bring change and not always positive. A new coach will bring a different perspective when it comes to returning players, and combined with the addition of talented new players, this can drastically change the playing time equation. It sounds as if you have done a good job of using video to create recruiting interest, which is an important first step.

I can understand your concern with College Volleyball coaches having the opportunity to see your PSA play, but college coaches watch more than just the match. Any College Volleyball coach who is serious in evaluating a PSA will make time to see warm-ups. It is within the warm-up environment that we are able to watch ball control, along with a rapid series of attacks/sets. It is within this structured, focused situation which we can evaluate the arm swing, the setting release, the ability to transition to the floor and up, the approach footwork, etc. In a very real sense, it is like a college coach wanting to watch a 5 minute skills tape verses a 5 minute match tape.

But, in acknowledgement of the limited playing time, this may need to be addressed more directly. By reputation, the 'National' category of Club Volleyball teams tend to be more focused on recruiting and skill development, versus the socialization and skill development of 'Regional' teams. You indicate that your daughter has visited with the club coach, but with no success. I would suggest two things: 1) Have your daughter work harder to become better, 2) The adults need to sit down to visit.

It may well be that your daughter's playing time is reflective of her abilities this year, in comparison to her team mates; maybe tough to hear, but true. If she is not one of the best seven (inclusive of the Libero), then her playing time will not be significant. To become better and garner more playing time, she must focus upon those skill sets for which she is lagging behind her team mates. For example, is another outside hitter able to hit a sharper cross court? Then your daughter needs to work on her physical conditioning, jump, approach and arm swing to better this Volleyball skill set. We can't control other players, but a a PSA can control her skill set development through hard physical and mental effort.

You should consider sitting down with the club director and coach to visit about your recruiting concerns. The 17's year is still the prime year for recruiting, and by participation with a National level team, this recruiting consideration must be supported by the club. As I have suggested to other VolleyFamilies, request a meeting time which is outside of practice and not ever during a tournament. Be clear about what you want to accomplish by this meeting; just don't turn it into a gripe session about how much she played last year and how little she is playing this year.

Directly ask what skill sets she needs to improve upon to earn more playing time, while also presenting your concerns about her being seen/evaluated by College Volleyball coaches. Remember that you are paying a fee to play Club Volleyball, and as such, you have purchased the right to expect a certain return. I suggest you present a solution which satisfies your desire for exposure, while supporting the skill improvement suggestions of the club. For instance, you can ask that your daughter play a full game at least every other match (one game out of a possible 6) to be seen by college coaches while she works on those areas which the club coach would like to see improvement. Come up with a solution, not a complaint; but you address the situation, let your daughter just play Volleyball.

College Volleyball coaches understand that the Club Volleyball world can be a unique place and we usually don't get too worked up about playing time. We are much more concerned with talent. We want to evaluate abilities, to see what your different skill sets look like and we don't keep a log of how many games per tournament you play.

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