How to Ace Volleyball Tryouts With These Proven Tips
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.
What to Do to Make Your Volleyball Team
- Have basic volleyball skills such as passing and serving.
- Have a positive attitude. A less skilled player who creates a positive atmosphere is more likely to make the team than a superior player who is always negative.
- Be respectful to your coach. Show them you are coachable by listening and being able to take criticism.
- Arrive to tryouts looking like a volleyball player with proper apparel. Be knowledgeable of the sport and know the different positions.
- Stay focused on volleyball during practice. Don't talk about outside distractions.
- Always hustle and do your best. Always show drive during practice, even in things like stretching.
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."
Bring a Positive Attitude
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 That You Are Respectful and 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.
Come to Volleyball Tryouts Like You're Ready to Play
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.
What to Wear for Volleyball Tryouts
Here is an in-depth list of the ideal apparel you should have during your tryouts.
- Form-fitting shirt: Loose or baggy shirts can hinder your movements, so avoid wearing them. Your shirt should be made of either spandex or nylon.
- Spandex shorts: The rules for shirts apply to shorts as well. You're going to want something that is snug but doesn't restrict movement. Spandex shorts would be best. Be sure to move around in them to make sure they don't hinder you on the court.
- Shoes: Volleyball shoes would be the best pair to have. They are lighter and offer better traction and arch support. If you don't own a pair of volleyball shoes, you should at least have a decent pair of running shoes. Anything with decent arch support will suffice.
- Socks: What type of socks you wear is up to your personal preference. You should avoid ankle socks since they could potentially slip down into your shoes. Crew or knee socks are typically the most popular in volleyball. Avoid cotton socks since these can absorb sweat.
- Knee Pads: These are strongly recommended to protect your knees on dives.
Stay Focused on Volleyball
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. This is not a social hour. 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.
How to Prepare for Volleyball Tryouts Before the Season
Preparation for tryouts should begin far in advance. Here is some advice on what you should do before the season begins.
- Be in shape: You should be in top condition when you arrive at tryouts. You should join a gym or have a workout regiment during the off season. A good goal to have is to be able to run a mile in about 7-8 minutes. Running and biking are great exercises to increase stamina. Resistance training can help build strength.
- Have a nutritious diet: A healthy and balanced diet can help increase your metabolism and keep you energized. Your performance is highly dependent on what you eat.
- Join a club or rec team: Playing volleyball outside of the season is incredibly beneficial. You'll be able to develop your skills and learn from teammates. Your coach will be able to tell you are experienced during tryouts with your skill.
- Prepare the night before: Be well rested on the night before tryouts. You don't want to stay up late and have no energy on the court. You should also eat a good breakfast as well.
Volleyball Conditioning Drills
Here are some drills that can strengthen your conditioning. You should practice these drills so you can arrive at tryouts in top shape.
- Line sprints: This would ideally be done on a volleyball court, but it could possibly be done anywhere if you can measure distance. Starting from the end line, run to the attack line and then back. Follow this up by going to the center line and back to the end line, far attack line and back to the end line, and finally running from one end line to another. If you are on a court, consider practicing a dive when you reach a line.
- Lateral movements: You are going to hold your hands together behind your back and keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. You will then jump from right to left on your feet. This will increase your ability to move side-to-side.
- Blocking exercise: Make a mark on a wall that is equal to the height of the net. Quickly jump up and down with your arms up like you are going for a block. Consider doing full jumps from a squatting position as well.
- Ball drill: This exercise requires quite a few volleyballs, perhaps 10 to 15. It always requires partners to roll them and retrieve them. The goal is to touch a ball that is rolled to you. As soon as you touch it, your partner should roll another ball in an opposite direction. Your goal is to stay on your toes and touch all the balls. This drill mimics the pressure you will feel in a game.
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! Here are some inspirational volleyball quotes to motivate you.