July 25, 2011

Too Much Volleyball Practice?


 I don't know where the cut off is for 9th grade, but my daughter just finished 8th and will enter 9th grade at the end of this summer.

The high school my daughter will attend next year is a volleyball powerhouse. From last year's team 4 girls got full scholarships to major D1 schools. Competition is fierce for spots on any team, Freshman, JV, or Varsity.

My daughter is 14 years old, 6 foot tall and still growing, with a 9 foot 8 inch vertical and plays outside. My problem is that she practices all the time. Everyday she's out back hitting the volleyball against the house, or working her arm strength with giant bands, or practicing jumping over and over. Four nights a week she's off to some clubs skills or hitting clinic. At night while she's sitting on the floor watching TV, she's stretching or throwing a ball against the wall. She's already very good, but she striving to make the Varsity as a freshman.

I feel like we are living with an Olympic gymnast or a competitive figure skater, she is that driven. Her mom and I try to get her to have a life, go to the mall, see her friends, but she would rather practice. I'm afraid she is going to burn herself out. Right now she loves volleyball more than anything, and I don't know what to do. I can stop taking her to the club clinics, or make her stop practicing. Then, if she makes the freshman team, she will resent me.

Do I let her keep on and hope she doesn't burn out? Is this the level of dedication required to be a good volleyball player? Things were different when I was kid.

Any insight would be appreciated - A concerned Father.

As your daughter has not begun her freshman year, we are all good with the NCAA rules.  I can understand your concern and I can see where you are worried about the massive amount of time being expended upon Volleyball. 
I would not reign her in right now, because it seems as she is self motivated.  You are not telling her to do this, you are not pushing more practice and clinics upon her.  What I suggest is to go with the current status, but keep an eye out for subtle opportunities to 'disengage' from Volleyball for a spell.  
For instance, if she is signed up for one camp, and talks about possibly going to another camp immediately after the first one, but she is a bit unsure......then subtly steer her away from the back to back camps and encourage some 'rest' time. 
I have found that there is a certain cycle or rhythm to motivated/driven athletes.  She sounds like she is on a strong run right now with Volleyball 24/7, but no one can hold this intense level indefinitely.  Soon she will start to slow down and relax, and when you start to see this occur, just gently encourage this resting cycle and provide a safety net as she mentally accepts a recovery phase.
Lastly, I would gently provide some pre-support if she does not make the Varsity squad....this is tough to do as a freshman in any sport at any high school.  She might indeed make it, but if this school is a powerhouse VB program, then it may be better for her to play on JV than warm-up on Varsity. 
I get nervous about young players jumping so far ahead of their ages, even though they may have the physical talent, because I believe there are certain leadership skills and confidence levels which are only attained nearer to their competitive age group.
Good luck.
Thank you for responding. I also have fears about my daughter playing UP on the varsity. Not only athletic ability, but resentment from juniors and seniors who got cut. I need to start gently talking about the advantages of playing on the JV team. H.S. is hard enough. And I guess I'll let her keep doing what she's doing.
Also, love the articles where you talk about how important grades are; I show those to my daughter.
Thanks again - A not quite so concerned father.

Glad to help and I think your gentle guidance is key.  The positive is that you have an intrinsically motivated daughter who is goal oriented.  The negative is when goals are not immediately reached, there can be a huge emotional letdown.  Just keep your parental radar on at all times, and will you find small opportunities to let her coast for a spell.

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