March 2, 2017

Club Volleyball reset....

Hi Coach,

Thank you for providing this forum for us volley parents! 

I have a 15s player who, in previous years, has always been an important part of her team. A six rotation player pretty much always on the court. Aggressive, tenacious, spirited thing - you know, flying around the court doing the little things to help her team win.

This year, she has been parked on the bench. She is not playing much, and not even part of the regular rotation. When she does play, she plays timidly, hesitantly - like she doesn't really know where to be or what to do on the court. Her court confidence is shot. I suppose you could say that the less she plays, the worse she plays.

She has gone from future college athlete to completely disengaged. She still loves the game and is looking forward to next year, at this point. Should we encourage her to quit this team, train hard, and get ready for next year? Is there any value to forcing her to stick it out? The only message she gets from this year is that she's the worst player on the team, and can only get in when a teammate is messing up, having a bad set, etc. 

We just want to do what's best for her future. We are not drama parents, nor bitter, although it would be easier to see her wait on the bench if the team was performing well, rather than under performing.

Thanks again for your advice and feel free to post to your site (please anonymously!)

- Anonymous 

It is a tough thing to go from being constantly on the court to being on the bench, especially if the team is not being successful.  But, I feel that every athlete should go through the education of the bench, and I went through it heading into my senior year at UCLA; it made me a better player (I regained the starting position and we won the National Championship) and eventually a better coach

Quitting is something which I would support if the coach or the environment was toxic; crazy coach, crazy team mates, hazardous drills, etc.  But quitting mid season because things are tilted against you?  

This is when she will build up the resiliency that will serve her well as she transitions into college volleyball (is not in the rotation, as most freshman are not and a few athletes are never), and also in life, when she is grinding through a monotonous job because she has to have that paycheck.

My suggestions moving forward:
  • As parents, be a good listener but do not add fuel to the fire.  This is part of being an athlete and being on a team.
  • Focus on practice; the value of club lies in the sheer volume of extra touches which comes mainly through training.  In practice is where you focus on improving skill sets. As she is not in the rotation, practice becomes even more important in getting ready for next season.
  • When she does enter the game, encourage her to have the practice mind set.  By your email information, she is just in for a few touches, so focus on those touches like practice.  Just another opportunity to pass, dig, serve and hit, as she would in practice without the stress of competition or overthinking that she is now on the court.
  • Take the pressure off her by letting her know that the family will make changes next year for club - new team, new club, etc.  Encourage her to look at this year as the 'training' year whether that is in weekly practices or tournaments.
  • Enjoy the moment even though the moment is not optimal.  We blink our eyes and our babies are all grown up. 
Hang in there as a family - Get the touches, work on skill sets, enjoy the moment and then transition into a better situation for next year!


1 comment:

  1. Over the years my daughter played club ball she had a couple seasons that were clinkers for one reason or another. One year it was a bad coach, another was playing behind a better player, once an injury popped up. Each time we told her to find something that was going well with the year: if you're not in the games then focus on practice time, if the coach is hard to bear then enjoy the time with your teammates, if you're losing a lot of matches then work on skill building, etc. Don't make the seasons about the bad stuff, make it about whatever works. You play a lot of seasons and they aren't all going to be great. Even the Miracle On Ice team must have seen the difficult coach, roster tumult and long, hard schedule as a pretty crappy year until they actually won.

    In the end make sure your player is doing three things: be a good teammate to her peers, be a good team member for her coach and draw out some positive aspect of the season. Finding the positive is a life skill and one of those intangible things sports is supposed to teach.


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