January 12, 2012

Club Volleyball Tournaments Playing Primer

The Madness, the Mayhem, Volleyball Mardi Semedi, it all begins this Saturday the 14th of January because the NCAA Quiet Period has come to a close.  Tick, Tock, Boom!!!  Let's Get Ready to Recruit!!!!!!!

OK, wait a minute, let's bring it down a bit and please allow me to share with you some suggestions to make this opening weekend where all the Crazy College Coaches will be floating so smoothly around the courts, a bit more successful for my VolleyPSA's!

1. Play to the level of your abilities, not past them or below them. As simple as this sounds, this is the best thing to do.  If you press and try to play beyond your abilities, then mistakes will happen. If you take it too casual (a common defense mechanism against pressure), then you will not display your talent at an attractive level.

2. Before now, you should have been laying the foundation for your skills sets and physical fitness. Even now, there is still time to work toward proper physical condition for upcoming tournaments.  Hear me out; I am not so much talking about looking fit or not fit, but playing fit. It will not showcase your abilities to lose your jump or explosive movements three attacks into a long rally. Being out of shape leads to fatigue mistakes, both mental and physical.

3. Focus your skill sets on your strengths these first couple of recruiting club tournaments - Highlight the strengths of your game to make a positive first impression upon college coaches. If you are a MB and can crush the slide, but struggle on the C, then try to run as many slides as you can. As an OH, if you are better hitting cross court than line, then hit cross court to minimize errors and make positive plays.

4. If you play OH or Libero, then concentrate on passing. Passing is one of the first skills sets that coaches will evaluate you upon and if you can pass, then this ability will elevate your standing in the recruit rankings. For Libero's, this is a given (just a reminder, college coaches will take a great passing Libero over a great defensive Libero - Passing equals winning). For OH's, don't think that just being a great hitter will make up for not passing well.

5. Setters - You must demonstrate leadership and composure. Leadership does not have to be vocal or demonstrative, but it must be evident. You should be supporting your hitters, defending your defensive position and running an offense, just not setting an offense.

6. Liberos - You must dominate the back row. Defense and Passing is your reason for wearing knee pads. College coaches can accept an occasional bad pass or defensive shank, but we will drop you off our recruiting database faster than a Kardashian if you don't go all out. I don't know what drives college coaches more bonkers, the amount of money being thrown away on college football or Liberos who don't go after a ball.

7. Middles - First of all, please don't do the fake swing on an approach when the ball went to another hitter, does not work and looks rookie. Secondly, work hard - Middles have the most physically demanding position on the court and college coaches want to see you doing all of it; be available to attack on every rally, go pin to pin to block the ball, if you get fooled, then drop and cover the tip and then load to re attack. Middles are always doing something - they have no off plays.

8. Outsides - Pass the ball to the setter and if you get set, hit the ball in the court. The simplicity is beautiful. These are the two best things you can do the opening tournaments. Again, pass the ball to the setter and hit the ball in the court - Every other skill set is secondary to these.

9. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ME!!! The last, last, last thing you should be concerned with is the college coach(es) on surrounding the court. If you play great, sleep well after the tournament. If you play poorly, do not lose any sleep over it - There is a tremendous amount of time left in the club volleyball recruiting season and to stress over one tournament is a waste of your precious youth!!!!

10. Have fun playing the greatest sport. Volleyball is fun to play and fun to watch and fun to be around. If you are not having fun or gaining enjoyment out of your day, then it is time to go do something else.


  1. Coach, you mentioned before about the middles not doing the fake swing. My daugther is a middle at the 17s club level and she is coached to go up and fake if she doesn't get the set to "hold the other middle for a bit". If this looks like a rookie move, why is she being told to do it? Also, I have filmed some of her matches and in watching the tape she pointed out to me how when she faked the other middle held her ground and in this particular instance the right side got a nice kill because there was only one blocker.

    One point of clarity - she mainly just jumps up near the setter and doesn't really swing her arm like she is pretending to hit the ball. To me it looks like a "distraction" move more than anything to keep the other middle guessing. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    Great site by the way! Very informative.

  2. In your second paragraph, you indicate your daughter is on a "A" or front quick approach. The natural motion of loading the arms quickly, and then the natural motion of releasing the arm attack position, all in the course of the jump will be distracting to the MB - A good hard approach with a strong attack arm load, can and will freeze the other MB.

    What I suggest is that MB's stay away from the full fake swing, especially on slides or C's (front shoot quicks), when the ball is already on its way to another hitter. That fake swing 10 to 20 feet away from the ball looks silly.

    On A's/B's/C's (front, back and shoot front), the MB's must quickly pre-load their attack arms because the setter delivers the ball quickly. On Slides, the middles have a bit more time. Biggest suggestion I can provide to your VolleyPSA is to approach hard, with a big broad jump and pre-load her attack arms with elbow high and hand above the ear!


    Thanks for the compliments on the site.

  3. "we will drop you off our recruiting database faster than a Kardashian"

    Love your sense of humor! Keep up the great writing, and thanks for all the advice.


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