October 27, 2016

Managing the Collegiate Volleyball Season

Hey Coach - my daughter has always been a passionate, competitive player that strives to be her best on and off the court.   She has overcome many obstacles and put many additional hours in at the gym.   She is a Libero/DS.   

She was recruited by a JUCO program and on signing day she told me it was the best day of her life.  She loved the school.  Loved the program.  Loved the team.   Sometime after games began the coach took a turn in how she treated my daughter.  This isn't a dad that is complaining about playing time.  My daughter feels as if she is basically being bullied by the coach.  She feels that the coach hates her for some reason.   She is starting to hate the game and lose her passion.  

Quitting is not an option.  I believe in learning life lessons from sports and when things don't go your way - quitting is not the answer.  Not in sports and not in life.  I advised her to have a discussion with the coach but she indicates it is difficult to talk to the coach on that matter.

My question is multi part -

1.  What should I advise my daughter on how to approach the coach?

2.  If she was to explore transferring, what guidelines do we need to follow?  Can she contact other coaches to let them know she is interested in transferring?

3.  Could it be that the coach feels this is a way to motivate her - and if it is, is it wise for my daughter to say, coach this isn't working on motivating me?

Thank you for your help.

A dad that is stressing for his daughter.

Apologies for the very late reply to your email - Just got bogged down with my 'day job'.

As many weeks have passed since your email, the situation may have improved or not?

From a coach perspective, there are many outside factors that influence a coach's demeanor.  Season stress, Athletic Director pressure, departmental coach vs coach conflicts, budgetary limitations, family challenges, etc, can easily be projected in a coach's outward demeanor.  The above examples have absolutely nothing to do with the individual players, but these players see this demeanor and often times will internalize it.  

At one of my previous head coaching positions, I knew it was time to leave when the off the court athletic department issues were affecting my coaching interactions and performance with my team; it is rare that a coach has a 'firewall' between off the court and on the court.

Back to your daughter's situation and your questions:

1. Have your daughter be straight forward.  Ask for a meeting time before practice.  Go into the meeting with a simple question, "Am I doing something wrong in practice or matches?  I ask because I feel that you are not satisfied with my performance."  After asking this question, she needs to listen to what the coach says and not argue.  Justifying or arguing is not going to make things better.  If the coach does have an issue and presents that issue, then the player needs to decide whether to change or not.

2.  Transferring - After a full academic year, your daughter can transfer to a NAIA school, provided she has enough transferable units for academic/athletic eligibility.   For NCAA DI and DII, she can transfer after one full academic year provided she has been previously 'certified' by the NCAA Eligibility Center for NCAA competition (most players do this as high school seniors).  Since she is at a 2 year school, it is my understanding she does not need a 'release' from her JC to contact other schools.

3.  It is a possibility, but my guess is that the coach has not changed her demeanor specifically towards your daughter.  I understand there are many coaches that are far from perfect, but to specifically target a single player without substance is unusual.  Hence, that is why you ask the coach the simple question, noted in #1.

As the season is nearly over, if the situation with the coach has not improved, then it is time to transfer.  Sometimes these things happen because you picked a school with a crazy coach.  Analyzing and playing "what if" and "why" is not going to solve the situation; only moving to a new program is the best choice.

Good luck!


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