With school seasons coming to an end, the anticipation of club season continues to build. Athletes are excited to see new and old club teammates, anxious to spend their weekends at tournaments improving their volleyball skills and building lifelong friendships and memories. Before all of that fun can even begin, they must get through the hardest season of all: tryouts. I still remember going through my club tryouts. An entire weekend of volleyball, going from club to club and doing the same drills over and over again. Not to mention the immense amount of stress to perform and make the team you want, dealing with failure and rejection, and making difficult decisions that impact the next six months of your life. Tryouts can be one of the most trying times for an athlete and parents. After going through countless tryouts as an athlete and a coach I wanted to share my insider’s tips and tricks to conquer the tryout season.
Set Yourself Up for Success
If you are dedicated and know you want to play on a club volleyball team this season, be sure to take the necessary steps to make that happen. To start, if you’re worried about making a team or playing at the right level, register to tryout at multiple clubs. This will not only increase your chances of making a team, but each organization has different spots and competitive levels they can offer at any given time. For example, if you want to play at a national level but know certain clubs offer a lot of early contracts or have primarily regional teams, look into new opportunities and organizations that prioritize your desired skill level. Similarly, make sure you show off any and all skills during the tryout drills and games. If you are primarily a defensive player and have experience with hitting, make sure you get into different positions at tryouts to showcase multiple abilities. Coaches love athletes who are comfortable filling multiple roles and it may increase your chances of making a team. Finally, set yourself up for success by playing to your strengths. Go into tryouts knowing the skills that you excel at and the ones you still need improvement on, and aim to demonstrate your strongest assets. If you are great at passing and hitting, but your serve still needs improvement, don’t waste time during games trying to serve and rather make sure you hit and pass as many times as possible. Coaches know they can improve weaker skills, but want to know the value you will bring to the team.
This is one of my go-to pieces of advice for any athlete, whether it be during a practice, game or throughout life in general. The power of positive thinking is extremely strong and something I try to instill in every team that I coach. Even if you have to fake it, positive motivation and strength has to start within yourself. If you go into a tryout with negative thoughts and believing there’s no way you’re going to make the team, that often comes across through body language and skills. Don’t be your own worst enemy, and work hard to believe in yourself! Positive and can-do thinking can drive athletes to perform better than they ever expected, and coaches always notice those players who are willing to try anything with confidence.
Stand Out Among the Crowd
You were born to stand out, so why try to blend in! A lot of athletes at tryouts are afraid to make mistakes in front of coaches fearing that they won’t make the team. However, if you never play aggressively or try something new, those coaches may not even notice you at all. I can guarantee you that 99% of coaches would much rather have an athlete make an aggressive mistake than play it safe. I’m not saying you should keep swinging your hardest into the bottom of the net every time, but rather swing for the kill and if you miss, learn from your mistake, make an adjustment, and try again. Coaches appreciate a go-getter attitude and an eagerness to learn more— those are the intangible assets that cannot always be taught in a drill. So volunteer to demonstrate a drill, be the first one to jump serve, or provide a loud, cheerful presence; do what you can to make sure coaches see your talent on the court.
Back To the Basics
Even with all the positive thinking and trying again, mistakes are bound to happen and can be frustrating for athletes who are feeling pressure to perform at tryouts. Every athlete will struggle at some point and coaches often take notice of how you choose to react to adversity. If you’re having trouble and can’t seem to pick yourself out of the rut, take a deep breath and remember what you’ve learned from previous coaches and seasons— take it back to the basics. Get your feet to the ball on serve receive. Keep your elbow up and get on top of the ball when hitting. Pick your zone and finish high on your serve. And when in doubt, be vocal and call the ball– always.
The most important piece of advice I would give to any player heading into tryouts is to be confident. Have confidence in your talents and skills; you’ve put in the hard work to get to this level in the first place. Have confidence in your teammates; they are there to pick you up and have your back when you need it the most. Have confidence in your coaches; they are here to guide and shape you into a better athlete and person. Have confidence in yourself; you are in control of the outcome and are capable of much more than you think.
– Allison Merkle, 14 Silver Coach
Greater Columbus Volleyball Club
535 Lakeview Plaza Blvd.
Worthington, OH 43085
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