October 2, 2014

High School Volleyball Frustration


How should a parent deal with a coach that won't play her daughter?  I only ask this because my daughter has been playing volleyball since she was in the 7th grade and she is now in the 10th grade and for 3 years she was coached by coaches that knew the game and she usually always started and pretty much played the entire time but now she has a coach that doesn't know anything about volleyball (she is actually a basketball coach) and she is not playing at all.  Now my daughter is not pro at the game but she is good.  I just don't understand at all why she is not playing, the coach says that she's not doing anything wrong but she really can't tell me why she is not playing.  Coach has her at middle and I asked her why not try her in another position like outside and she just tells me I DON'T NEED HER ON OUTSIDE.  But the players she has on outside aren't doing very well (no game has been won) oh except a game that my daughter actually got to play in.  Now I'm not saying just because my daughter played they won but the coach actually did some subbing out (allowing the ones that have been playing the entire time) rest.

I am very frustrated as a parent trying to deal with this because I have approached the coach (probably not the right thing to do) but I have also talked with the principle of the school and of course they took her side saying that when the coaches knowledge of the game grows then she will be better.  Well what does my daughter do in the mean time, she is a sophomore and only has 3 years left of school.  This is the only sport my daughter likes and I feel like they are taking that away from her and me as well because I love to watch her play.  Actually both of my girls play/played.



Concerned Parent

Sorry to hear of your frustrations with your daughter's high school volleyball situation - If it is any conciliation, I receive many emails each fall with regards to this subject.

This situation is the fault of the Athletic Director, not so much the coach.  The AD put a coach with no volleyball experience into the head coach position; the coach is probably doing the best they can given their lack of knowledge or experience (as good of a VB coach as I may be, I would be out of my depth of an AD had me become a lacross coach). Coaching rally score volleyball is a challenge because the coaching work must be done in practice and determining the lineup changes after evaluating performance, along with trying out new rotations/player positions in practice.  

A few things to consider:

1)  Your daughter is just a sophomore and there is still time for this situation to improve; the coach gains experience, goes to coaching clinics, etc.  At least your daughter is not a senior, being faced with this challenge.  

2)  With the development of club volleyball, high school volleyball is not do or die, as it may have been in the past.  There are any number of high school volleyball players which must endure sup bar coaches, lessor competition, etc.

3)  If your daughter plays club, which I hope she does simply because it can be a great avenue to develop skills and play against higher level competition, then use this high school season as a free way to get touches on the volleyball - Not the answer you want, but take the negative (coach who is inexperienced) and turn it into a positive; touching the ball everyday and no charge to do so!

Now a deep statement - Your mentality will create your daughter's reality.  All you are doing now is yelling at the trees; the forest is not going to move.  You talked to the AD, you talked to the coach and nothing will change.  You must put this behind you because the frustration/anger you are feeling will be mimicked by your daughter. Accept the scenario, and maximize the opportunity which presents itself every day to get touches and to get better.

And a closing deeper statement - This is what being a part of a team means; sometimes the individual must suppress frustration because that is the responsibility of being on a team.  A a member of a team, sometimes you just have to suck it up, to stay strong, to be supportive and positive even though it will drive you nuts.  I have been there as an athlete and it taught me about being a better player, a better coach and hopefully better prepared to face the realities of being an adult.

Coach Sonnichsen


  1. Coach Matt, your deep thoughts are very well stated. Again and again you provide great advice.

  2. Love the "deep" thoughts! Right on point. So many life lessons learned while playing sports and they do prepare you for life which is why many companies seek out athletes. Hang in there parent. My kid, a talented volleyball player with college coachs interested, yet she sat half the season on the bench while the experienced high school/club coach played the less talented players. Having watched my kid play club ball for years and college ball and watching the technique and instruction of the experienced coaches, I know a thing or two. I learned to bite my tongue at high school. My daughter learned to be patient, to be coachable, to be a team player (not star player), and I the parent learned to stay out of her business. It's up to the player to ask the coach what she needs to do earn a spot on the court, and work towards that. Sometimes it's not athleticism but attitude. This too shall pass. As coach said, how you react will teach your kid how to react. Hang in there.

  3. Great advice Coach. Parent, you have overstepped your bounds and have taken a great opportunity away from your child. She needs to be the one to talk to the coach, not you. This will teach her to stick up for herself, talk to adults, etc. And unless a coach is physically harming your child, you should never go above them. This is a high school sport. When high school athletes were asked (20,000 of them) why they play high school sports it is to have fun, represent their school, do something they enjoy. Winning is down the list. Let her have fun with the girls, perhaps you as a parent could take them to an apple orchard or suggest an activity. Do a sleepover, You can help to make this a positive experience for your daughter, not stir up the drama.

    1. Seriously, expect a young person to be able to handle a high level conversation without parent support. Not all cases are equal and it's the parents job to determine the severity of a situation for their child.

  4. Ironically, my daughter is in this situation now and I disagree with some of your advice Coach. In our situation, the inexperienced coach is playing inexperienced freshman, while the, experienced (some like my daughter play club ball) sit and warm the bench. Because they have played every game all season, some of the freshman have already caught the eye of the Varsity coach. They have even been asked to play with the Varsity team during some non-school tournaments. With only 7 spots opening up for next year on Varsity, these freshmen are already being groomed to take some of those spots. The Varsity coach has never seen my daughter play because she has barely played all season. Yes, she may come back next year and manage to score a Varsity spot, however, this inexperienced coach is a great disservice to the sophomores on the JV squad because it's likely some of next year's Juniors won't make it because of the freshman he played all season. I have not approached the coach and do not intend to, but I really don't think some coaches understand the full impact of their decisions. Volleyball is my daughter's only sport and one of the few things she does very well. He has shattered her confidence completely and VB was one of the few things that have her some much needed confidence. The team lost every game for the whole season. He accomplished nothing positive with the girls. He rarely subbed anyone out, and when he did it would literally be for 2 or 3 points Max. He had his favorites and they played every game - every set- almost every point. Your advice of learning to grin and bear it and letting the child be the one to approach the coach sounds great in theory. However, when my daughter tried to talk to the coach and ask what she could do to earn more court time- he literally walked away from
    Her as she was talking and began talking to some of his "favorites", never returning to the conversation. She sat there and cheered for her team all season. She knows all about being a team player, but that will be of title comfort when 3 or 4 of those varsity spits go to the freshman who have already started playing with the Varsity coach. I think I should have stepped in- said something- because now there is no way to fix this- it's too late.

  5. I would not worry to much about JV because varsity coaches (usually the rule) either like great players or experienced seniors. If your daughter is a great player as an upper class-man no worries she will get playing time. This kind of thing happens on all levels. I was an all-state baseball player left handed mind you and pitched, played right field, and was a DH in high school. While all my life I pitched and played first base. The kid playing first base on my HS team was an average hitter and could not play any other position. Still made me wonder at times why the best 1st baseman does not play 1st base. Coach was buddies with the family I think, lived in the same housing development. Hope it works out.


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