How to Ace Volleyball Tryouts
As a volleyball coach, I know that many young players wonder how to make a good impression at tryouts and earn spot on the team. Whether you are trying to make the best club team, junior high, freshman, or even varsity team, you may be wondering what the coaches look for in a player. You may be confused as to why one girl was selected over another when they have similar abilities. I'll give you some tips on impressing the coach and getting the best chance to make the team.
Attitude Is Everything!
The most important advice I can give you is to have a good attitude! Even if you are not the best player, a coach may give you a spot over someone with superior skills if their attitude sucks and yours doesn't.
Make a lot of noise, encourage other players, and cheer good plays by anyone. The best teams are made up of girls who make a joyful noise together. I want to see high fives, smiles, encouragement, and cheering. I want to see it in practice, in matches, and off the court. A team is like a family and nobody likes a Debbie Downer. I would cut a Debby Downer with superior skills because she will ruin my team and my practices. I don't ever want to hear "I don't care", "I suck", or "this sucks." Even after tryouts, that kind of attitude will earn you laps and it will stick in the coaches mind when they are considering who to put on the court.
Show Some Respect and Be Coachable
Nothing irritates me more than a disrespectful player. I don't want them on my team. Period.
This is more than just talking back. There are many ways players can be disrespectful to coaches. First, they need to realize that coaches are putting their time and effort in with the goal of making the team and each individual better. If they give you advice or criticism, they aren't just doing it for the heck of it or to make you feel bad. They are doing it to improve your skills. Keep this in mind.
When a coach is talking to you, always look them in the eye. If they ask you a question, answer it. Even if they don't ask you a question, nod your head. Really listen. If you don't understand what they want you to do, ask a question. A person who doesn't take advice or listen to criticism will most likely be cut.
There are many ways to come to a tryout prepared. For one thing, look like you play volleyball. You don't necessarily need to go out and buy $150 volleyball shoes, but you do need to wear your knee pads. Have your hair up and off your face. If you have volleyball shoes, wear them. Wear your spandex if you have them. If you have an impressive tournament t-shirt or camp t-shirt, wear it. Let your coach know with one look that you know something about volleyball.
And then actually know some things. Do your research! Know the name of each position. I want all my players to know the numbers. If I tell you to go to three, you know to go to front middle. Know what your ready position looks like, what a libero is, who the setter is. Make sure your tryout is not your first time playing the sport. If that is the case, then find an experienced player and have them play with you. You could look up YouTube videos on how to pass and then practice off your garage or with a friend. Look up the footwork for hitting and practice it over and over until you have it before you go to your first practice.
Know what position you would like to be in. Keep in mind that the coach will only put you where you will be best for the team. If they tell you that you look like a middle blocker on day one of tryouts, come to day two knowing everything there is to know about the position. Use the internet to your advantage.
It's Not Social Hour
You want your coach to know you get along with the other players, but make sure all chit chat in the gym is volleyball related. Don't let the coach catch you talking about boyfriend drama, your grades, where you are going after practice, or anything else.
Always Do Your Best
If you are doing partner passing at the beginning of tryouts, don't giggle when you make a mistake and then walk to your shanked ball. Hustle at all times and take everything seriously. When warming up or stretching, do your best to push your stretch farther, concentrate on your muscles, and make sure each pass is accurate. You may not think anyone is paying attention, but these are often the most telling parts of any practice.
But What Skills Do I Need?
This is probably what you really want to know. However, the answer depends on the level of play you are trying out for. If you are trying out for your first club team in 4th grade, the skills needed will be different than what is required to play varsity.
Here are the basics that apply at all levels.
- Passing - Make sure you can pass to your target. Make sure you are down low in ready position while waiting for your pass.
- Serving - Be able to serve the ball in most of the time. If you have a fancier serve that you want to show the coach, great. But after that, show them your consistent serve. The one they can count on when the game is on the line.
- Hitting - Practice your footwork and your arm swing. You don't need anything but some space and YouTube videos to do that. Even if your timing is a little off at tryouts, a good foundation will impress the coach.
- Hustle - Don't let anyone on the court out hustle you. You are almost a shoo-in if you show the most desire. If you give 150% when everyone else is giving 90%, you will look good. Go to the floor, dive, run way out there for shanked balls. Let the coach know that you will give it your all at all times. As I like to remind my daughters, "There will always be someone faster than you, stronger than you, and more skilled than you are. But there should never be anyone who tries harder or hustles more. That is within your control and will make all the difference."
Good luck on making the team! The key to success in any sport is determination. Even if you don't make the desired team this year, don't give up. Let it drive you to work harder. There are so many opportunities to play that you don't have to give up. There are always lower level club teams, rec teams, or intramural teams to play on. If you really love the game, you will find a way to play and come back the next year better than ever!
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