There are many types of volleyball tryouts. Club team tryouts differ from school team tryouts, and development team tryouts differ from high-end travel team tryouts. The challenges, however, are similar at all levels, and so are the qualities of a good tryout. Coaches must identify and recruit the best players for their team. They also establish the tone for the practices and matches to follow.
Luring the right prospects is the first step toward a successful volleyball tryouts. Scout players in advance to get a handle on the available talent pool. School coaches can create skills camps to get a read on younger players in the area. Arrange open gym periods to get to know potential players in an informal setting. School coaches should use all internal means to reach incoming students. Club team coaches should advertise and promote tryout information within the volleyball community. Recruiting is a key component to club volleyball success. School coaches might need to recruit, too, to attract multisport athletes on their campus.
Script the tryout from start to finish. Plot the activities to keep the session moving. Create a smooth sign-in process, and distribute pin-on numbers for those players needing a number for identification purposes. Start on time. Accept stragglers, but stress the need for players to arrive on time for team activities. Club coaches should explain their season goals, team needs and selection process to the players and parents. Describe the expectations for players making the team. School coaches should compose written guidelines for the selection process and discuss them with the players.
Start with a dynamic warm-up to allow players to increase their heart rate, raise their body temperature and stretch their muscles. Work on individual skills next, using serving, receiving, setting and hitting drills that fit the general skill level of the group. Move to game simulation drills next, testing the group without overwhelming it. From there, move to controlled scrimmages to see how the players communicate and interact. Finish the session with cool-down activities. Tell the players that the coaching staff will be in contact with them.
Establish the selection criteria before the tryout. Make sure all the coaches and helpers understand what you are looking for in players. School coaches should use written evaluation forms, since parents tend to complain to higher authorities if their child doesn’t make a team. Focus more attention on unfamiliar players, but don’t ignore players you know well. Get as many trusted eyes on the tryout as possible and gain a consensus evaluation on all players of interest. The head coach must make the final decisions, but varied input is critical.
Select the right players to blend with returning players, if you have them. Select players that fill needs and fit the team’s level of play and chemistry. Add versatile players to the bench, along with a raw but athletic prospect or two. Advanced club teams and varsity school teams may have nine to 12 players. Bigger rosters are appropriate for developmental club teams and junior varsity or freshman school teams.
Club team coaches should contact the players they want in order of their value. Competition for talent is fierce in some areas, so players often have multiple options. Selecting a player is one thing, but securing that player is another. Allow the very best prospects some time to make the decision. Move down the list and get as many commitments as possible. Creating some roster size flexibility helps coaches leave a few spots open for top, undecided prospects. Contact unwanted players to explain why they didn’t get an offer, encourage them to continue playing and promise to keep an eye on them. Some of those players will blossom into better prospects. Make a good impression even while rejecting them. School coaches should meet with each cut player, thank her for trying out and explain their evaluation.