HS season is here

posted Aug 9, 2017, 11:04 AM by Cynthia Dang   [ updated Aug 9, 2017, 11:04 AM ]
Wow, the summer has flown by! High school tryouts will be starting in just a few days. I'm happy to hear that a lot of our athletes- even our freshmen- are practicing with their JV and Varsity squads in the open gyms leading up to tryouts. 

The next week or so is going to be filled with a lot of emotions: happy, excited, nervous, scared, and maybe even disappointment. That last one can be a real doozie.....

I know that we have a lot of girls that demand the best of themselves- I would almost say "perfectionists". You work hard and won't settle for not reaching your goals. So how do you handle the disappointment of maybe not making the team you wanted to? I would urge you to take time to think and analyze before you make any rash decisions (like deciding to quit).  

I'll let you have a glimpse into my own mind as a coach and things I consider when doing team placements. Creating a dynamic program with dynamic teams is not an easy task. Here are some of the big things coaches look at when it comes to team placement: 

1. What grade are YOU in? How many girls in your program are older than you?
If you're a freshman/sophomore and there's a ton of seniors you likely won't be making varsity even if your skill level could land you there. When you play HS sports you are representing your school and community and the seniors have usually earned their positions over the last 3 years. Programs that choose not to cut seniors and allow them to play are showing respect to those athletes. 

2. How many other girls play the same position as you? 
In addition to the above consideration, sometimes it is necessary for the FUTURE success of a program to keep some athletes on "lower" teams in order to start developing their chemistry. The coaches have probably recognized your skills, but perhaps they need a leader on another team and they already have someone on JV or Varsity fulfilling that need this season. 

3. How many open gyms did you attend? Did you play at all this summer? 
One thing I tried to stress to all of our athletes was to attend your open gyms or at least get out and play over the summer. Every day you skipped was another day and opportunity for the coaches to notice someone else. It was another day for everyone else to progress with their skills and maybe surpass you. 

4. During open gyms did you show a true interest in learning from your new coach? 
As I mentioned A LOT during our club seasons, different coaches have different ways of doing things. There's more than one way to perform every single skill in volleyball. Were you open minded? Did you try the things the coach was trying to teach you?

5. Did you attempt to befriend other girls in the program, or did you stick to your usual clique? 
Coaches do take special note of how you interact with your potential teammates. If you segregate yourself and only speak to a couple of other people, we will notice. We want someone that demonstrates that they want to be a part of a TEAM.

6. Did you have a good, supportive attitude of everyone else in the gym regardless of THEIR skills or attitude? 
Coaches have you practice with people of different ages and skill levels for a couple of reasons. One obvious one is for a direct skills comparison to other kids in your age group. The other can be a mental test. If you ignore, make furn of, or are mean to someone with less skills than you, can I trust you to be there for a teammate that's maybe just having a really bad day? 

7.How did you react after a mistake? 
We ALL make mistakes... what's important is how we react to and overcome those mistakes. Did you have an outburst after a mistake or did you brush it off quickly and get on with the drill? Did you blame your mistake on someone else (bad pass, bad set, etc)? The ability to get over mistakes quickly is crucial to team and individual success. We also want people that are accountable for themselves and not always blaming someone else. 

8. Did you show sacrifice for your team during drills and games? 
If you just stood around and didn't give 100% effort, including not diving/hitting the floor when needed we will notice, and we don't like it. Sacrifice is needed to be successful. 

9. Were you attentive and respectful to the coaching staff? 
How many times did the coach have to explain things to you? Did the coach have to wait for you to be quiet while they were talking? Did the coach have to just talk over you? If the coach or another teammate is addressing the team/group, you should be quiet. Lack of respect in this regard is a huge red flag and tells us you're not committed to your team. 

10. Were you shy, or did you step up and try to be a leader? 
Coaches look for athletes that are comfortable on the court. This means showing that you know what is supposed to be going on and TALKING about it. Calling for the ball, helping teammates that might be confused, cheering for teammates successes and helping them shake off bad plays. 

11. Were you flexible and accommodating if the coach tried to have you play a new position?
We try to make sure that each of our athletes is exposed to multiple positions for exactly this reason. Maybe your program has a lot of kids all playing the same position. If you can show versatility and eagerness to learn so you can help your team you will certainly get the attention of the coaching staff. If you tell us that you CAN'T  or WON'T play a certain position we'll move onto the next athlete that can. 

The last thing to ask yourself actually has little to do with the coaches, but your own personal outlook on volleyball. Would you rather ride the bench on a higher team, or play on a "lower" team? Are you playing for the label that comes along with being a Varsity athlete, or are you playing because you love the game? 
Often times underclassmen that are pulled up to higher teams do not get as much playing time. Sometimes it is extremely beneficial to remain on the lower level team, develop yourself as a leader, get more playing time, and mentally and physically prepare for the next season. Show the coaches that you will are invested in their program and that you will work hard no matter what team you're on. 

I'll close this today with a simple reminder:
Be Confident: In yourself, your skills, your attitude (but don't be cocky)
Be Disciplined: With your skills, interactions with other athletes, and habits (RUN EVERYWHERE)
Be Determined: Do NOT give up. Make opponents work for their points. Don't stop working yourself until you've reached your goals.