November 17, 2014

High School vs Club Volleyball Mentality

I just found your website while searching for an answer to my question.  Lots of good information to read, and I look forward to reading your book as well.

My daughter is 14 and discovered volleyball in 6th grade.  She knew right away that this was her sport.  She is naturally athletic and very competitive, and has always been this way.  I wouldn't change her drive for anything.  Originally she thought she would play setter, but then she grew 6 inches and is now an outside hitter.

During her first club session in the winter of 6th grade, parents and coaches commented to her, and to myself and my husband, about her aggressive manner of play.  One coach's comment in particular that I remember was, "You can teach technique, but you can't teach aggression on the court."  While I myself am still learning about this sport, what I saw her doing was going after balls that perhaps were not necessarily hers to get, but doing so because she didn't want the ball to drop if she had any chance to get it herself.  While this style of play seems to be a big positive in club play and has garnered her some notice among the coaches, school play has been much different.

As early as 7th grade, my husband and I were made aware that a few parents were complaining about her style of play in school, in effect calling her a "ball-hog."  This continued a little bit into 8th grade, and now we are being made aware that it is happening again in her freshman year of high school.  She is a great player, an encouraging teammate, and she has made a huge effort in working out, learning and watching all she can about this sport, and her school coaches seem to like her and play her the majority of the time.  However, I see her passion for playing is diminishing as she becomes aware of the way other people view her.  And as a 14-year old girl, self-esteem is already a big issue.  I am not sure how to explain to her the differences between school and club, because I'm not sure about it myself.

I am wondering if this is typical between school and club play, and how do we manage the two?

Thank you!

K. S. 

Thank you for the compliments on my website and I hope that Inside College Volleyball will be a good resource for your family as you manage the recruiting process!

Club Volleyball and High School Volleyball are two different creatures.  For many of today's elite high school age volleyball players, high school volleyball is just a nice time killer; something to do in the fall while waiting for club to start.  This is a result of many schools not having quality coaches, or the high school team mates being multi sport (thus not focused on VB), or the players not having natural talent, or the league being weak in competition, etc., etc., etc.

So, it comes as no surprise to me that high school parents/players might be making critical remarks about a player's aggressiveness because they do not understand the elite level of volleyball.    The mental and physical skill sets you speak of with your daughter, are prized by club volleyball teams and by extension, college coaches/teams.  But, for those families/players stuck in the high school zone, there is going to be some natural (yet, immature) jealousy of your daughter's abilities.

You have two choices with your daughter:

1.  Advise her to understand that she has abilities (mental and physical) that are very attractive to club programs and college coaches, but will be misunderstood by the uneducated/inexperienced high school players/families.   She just needs to stay positive, work hard, be a good team mate, and by sticking with those areas, she will eventually illustrate that the way she plays volleyball is a good thing.  

2.  Advise her to stop high school volleyball and just focus on club.  Sometimes it is just easier/less stressful to not deal with the uneducated/jealous players/families in high school, especially with the club season being as long and intense as it is.  A number of high school aged volleyball players today will just play club because they want to have down time to just enjoy being a student in high school, or they time to rest their bodies, or their high school season is not enjoyable (drama, player ability, poor coaching, poor competition, etc).

Good luck!

Coach Matt


  1. I wish someone would have given us the advice to forgo HS VB to our first daughter - we were given the opposite advice and told HS was required to play at the next level. Unfortunately the HS experience put a drain on our family, and my daughter's love for the sport.

    She stopped playing the sport before her senior year after playing on multiple national medal winning teams and hasn't touched a ball since. She also has never been happier.

  2. I have the same situation with my 14 year old Frosh. She has been in club 5 years and this years HS team was a new experience for her. She is a high energy, knowledgable libero/setter that has played every position. She is going to top out at about 5'8 so OH days are behind her but she takes great almost manic pride in her defense.

    What she learned this year in HS was to enjoy everyone's level of play. The dedication and skill is not the same in HS but she found she could make other better by her drive, attitude and on court coaching. All very useful skills for volleyball and life.

    We are both glad club season is back.


Please stay positive or at the minimum present constructive criticism - Negative comments or attacks upon other reader's opinions will not be posted.