August 15, 2016

Club Volleyball Decision

Hello Coach! 

I have to say, first and foremost that your website has been truly an eye opener for me! There are lots of things that I wasn't aware of, in the recruiting process, that I've now have my daughter looking at it as well so that she can see first hand, how hard she has to continue to work and keep a realistic view on her target schools! 

She's a 5'7, 14 years old OH with a tremendous amount of potential. She's played two years of club, which unfortunately for us have not been good experiences. The first season was cut short because we didn't have enough girls to play in the last two tournaments and practice....well, we rarely had enough to practice! The second season, was better because we had a full team, but was coached at a beginners level. They didn't run plays, practices were not intense and the team spirit...there was none. She's currently being looked at by a club for the third team as a middle blocker! We're open to her playing any position as long as she is comfortable and excels. She can technically set, but she won't go for it.

Which finally brings me to my question. We're considering sitting her out and train her one-on-one for the club season so that she can truly work on her weaknesses and hopefully she can come out strong for her freshman year. We've gone around and around about quality and quantity and feel that we haven't found a place that will help her get to the next level. Do you think that sitting out a year may or may not benefit her? Your advice is greatly appreciated. 

Thank you, 

Advice Needed

The 13 to 15 year old age range is a critical time period for young volleyball players, as they are laying the foundation for future success.  Each touch is important when you are VolleyCritter (just created a new term....), but this Junior High into High School time segment allows players to combine their youthful touches into a more physical game.  It is nothing dramatic, but rather an establishment of skill sets, mental awareness and as many repetitions as possible.

One of the reasons that athletes who play club get better in volleyball than those who do not play club, is the substantial increase in touches upon the ball.  Even with average coaching and average players and average competition and average referees and average breakfasts in average Fairfield Inns, the substantial increase in touches upon the ball will increase the abilities of the younger players.  

The challenge for many families is paying for the obvious average experience because not every club is going to have good coaches, players, facilities and hairbows.  And by paying, I mean more than just money; it takes time, family scheduling, physical effort, emotional involvement and the sacrificing of other opportunities to play club volleyball.  

Because of the proliferation of club volleyball (and all youth base sports), there are a large number of average clubs and an even larger number of very average club coaches.  There are more players than there are quality club coaches to coach them, and this leads to parent's frustrations with their club experience.

All that being said, I would not suggest you replace a club season with 1 on 1 training.  1 on 1 training can be great for targeting weak skills or keeping touches upon the ball during slow times or high school season, but it cannot replace a club season.

With your daughter's age, pick the best option for a club with the focus being on training.  Don't worry about the club team number or the club name, just figure out which option will give her the maximum quality touches.  It may well not be the best situation or what you may have hoped for, but it will be better than 1 on 1 training.

Just keep in mind that you are laying the foundation for maximum repetitions with club; her getting to the next level will be more a factor of physical, which won't occur until she gets further into high school.  If you have laid the foundation of ball control and volleyball intelligence, that "next level" will be much higher.


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