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Are you ready for volleyball tryouts?
Whether you’ve played for years or it’s your first time coming out for a team, volleyball tryouts can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially at the higher levels when the competition is strong. Of course your skill level is top of the list, but many other factors are involved when it comes to coaches making their player selections.
So how can you make the most of your volleyball tryouts?
I’ve separated my ten best tips based on what kinds of things you can do before your tryout, during the tryout, and after the tryouts are over. Follow the 10 tips on what to avoid (and what to do instead), and you will set yourself apart on the court and give yourself the best shot at making the team!
If you’re new to the blog, WELCOME to Student Athlete Connections! I’m so happy you’re here =)
My blog is filled with tips and resources to help you navigate your way through the sometimes mudding recruiting waters. I hope you stay a while, and find something helpful for you!
Here are some of my favorite posts below!
- NCAA Eligibility: What You Need to Know So You Don’t End Up on the Bench
- Calling College Coaches: What To Do Before Picking Up the Phone
- How to Create a Volleyball Highlight Video that Coaches Want to Watch
- Recruiting Visits: What You Need to Know About the New NCAA Rules
- Am I Being Recruited? How to Gauge Where You Stand as a Volleyball Recruit
- How to Handle Being Caught in the Student-Athlete Comparison Trap
Ok, so let’s dive right in!
Rock your volleyball tryouts – your pre-game
Volleyball Tryouts Tip #1) Avoid staying up late the night before
Unfortunately, a lot of players show up less prepared for volleyball tryouts than they should. You don’t want to be one of them. Physical and mental preparation not only helps you deal with some of the nervous energy you might have, but it shows your attitude and dedication.
Being well-rested can also keep your reaction time crisp, help with your mental focus, and give you energy to overcome physical and emotional fatigue. So avoid the late night video games or Netflix binges. Those can wait until after volleyball tryouts are over.
What to do instead: While getting enough sleep is always a good idea anyway, during the week leading up to tryouts it becomes more beneficial than ever. Starting about a week before your tryout date, aim for a consistent sleep pattern of 7-9 hours each night (but especially the night before).
Volleyball Tryouts Tip #2) Avoid skipping breakfast
Along with sleep, the fuel you put into your body is important for all athletes (and especially during volleyball tryouts). Avoid skipping breakfast on the day of your tryout. Even if you feel you “don’t need” breakfast, your food can provide a much needed energy supply to your muscles. If you’re worried about digestion issues, make sure to give yourself at least an hour before you need to get out on the floor.
Avoid processed food a few days prior, as well, and definitely avoid it on the day of your tryouts. This means saying no to sugary waffles and skipping the drive-thru window. Coaches are looking for your skills, and you can perform those skills at a much higher level if your fuel is “clean”.
What to do instead: Allow your body to perform at its best by eating real food – not food from a box or package. Aim for a balance of lean protein, complex carbs like whole grains, and healthy fats. The more often the better!
Volleyball Tryouts Tip #3) Avoid being unprepared
It’s been said that proper preparation prevents poor performance. When you’re unprepared at volleyball tryouts, not only will you lack confidence which affects your performance, but it will be apparent to the coaches who are there to evaluate you.
Avoid being unprepared. Showing up late, forgetting equipment, or being in poor physical shape all point to a lack of respect for the coaches’ time and for the tryout itself.
Preparedness also involves your training prior to tryouts. If your skills are rusty, it will show – especially if the other players have been hitting open gyms and getting extra reps and training all summer long. Being prepared not only helps you exude confidence, it shows the coaching staff you are respectful, dependable, and worthy of being a member of their team.
What to do instead: Arrive early. Have your equipment ready (shoes and knee pads on, etc.). Give yourself some time to take yourself through a “pre-game” routine that works for you (stretching, visualizing, breathing, etc.). Make sure that prior to tryouts you’ve done all you can to hone your physical and technical skills, as well.
Rock your volleyball tryouts – during the tryout
Volleyball Tryouts Tip #4) Avoid distractions
Coaches are giving their time to be at tryouts and they want to see you focused. Your attention needs to be on their instruction, on the court, on the drill you are in, and on your teammates when you are waiting to get into a drill – not on your incoming texts or snapchat notifications.
Avoid distractions: This means putting away your cell phone, and turning it off – not just on vibrate (and avoid checking it during water breaks). It also means cutting out any side talking while you’re waiting in line for a drill, and not being a distraction to others, either. Oh, and you also don’t want to let the coach see you looking over to your parents after every ball.
What to do instead: Never speak (or bounce the ball) while a coach is speaking. Keep your eyes on the coach during instruction, and show your attentiveness by being fully engaged (without technology) during every facet of the tryout – including those water breaks.
Volleyball Tryouts Tip #5) Avoid having a fixed mindset
Perhaps the number one trait coaches say they want in a player is for them to be coachable. Being coachable is a positive “growth mindset” attitude that says you are there to learn, take in the feedback you’re given, and do what you can for the betterment of the team. The opposite of that, a “fixed mindset”, causes you to portray an attitude that you already know it all, and it can make you look too over-confident, as if you feel you’ve “arrived” and are not open to learning.
Avoiding a fixed mindset is important because a know-it-all demeanor can cause you to miss opportunities right in front of you (including an invitation to the team). Avoiding a fixed mindset also means never giving up on a ball – or on your teammates.
What to do instead: Be coachable. Listen well. Give 110%. Take any feedback given and make the adjustment the coach is asking for. Be open to new techniques, even if it means it’s different from perhaps an old habit you may have. Consider playing a different position if you are asked. Never give up on the ball or on your team.
Volleyball Tryouts Tip #6) Avoid being just one in the crowd
Depending on how large of a turnout there is, you definitely want to avoid being overlooked if you can help it. If you are blessed to be 6’5″ and able to jump out of the gym you’re probably not as stressed about this, but for others, there are a few ways to avoid just being one of many in the crowd at your volleyball tryouts.
One way to stand out is admittedly kind of superficial, but it’s by wearing something slightly different (but not obnoxiously flashy) from the norm. For example, while most players will be wearing black shorts, you might wear your red or green ones. Maybe you can don some cool socks, or a colored headband, or a t-shirt with a positive saying on it.
Ideally, you want your play to be the thing that makes you noticeable. Coaches want to see driven athletes who value teamwork and have great attitudes. There is a fine line between being a confident hard worker and an obnoxious attention-seeker. As long as you know the difference, you will help coaches start to notice you. Of course, you must prepare physically and technically before tryouts, too (see tip #3 above), so you can let your ball handling, your footwork, and your court savvy shine through!
What to do instead: Do not wait to be a leader. It might take getting out of your comfort zone a bit, but the last hour of tryouts is too late. Be one of the first players in line for drills, volunteer to be in an example group or to lead a demo, and don’t forget to talk a lot on the court, encourage those around you, and give your 110% throughout the entire tryout.
Volleyball Tryouts Tip #7) Avoid being selfish
Yes this is a tryout, and you are looking out for you, but volleyball is a team sport and you won’t be able to succeed alone. Being a team player will take you a lot farther than being a selfish one. Avoid playing selfishly. This starts with your own self-talk, because the thoughts you have inside will reflect outwardly in your words and actions. Are you a complainer? Do you secretly feel that the bad set you got is the reason you couldn’t kill that last ball? If you’re thinking about things in terms of “you, yourself, and you”, chances are it will show in your play.
What to do instead: Be a great teammate. Make the best of whatever court you get placed on, which group you get paired up with, or any type of sets you get. Encourage others throughout the tryout, too (even the ones that are competing for “your” spot)! High five a great hit, gather the team in a huddle between points, and celebrate amazing aces! And don’t be afraid to meet someone new during water breaks. After all, they might soon be your teammates!
Volleyball Tryouts Tip #8) Avoid being flashy (or obnoxious)
It can be tempting to look around at the other players at volleyball tryouts and compare yourself with them. Try not to get sucked in to that comparison trap and overcompensate by being too flashy. Yes, even though you are trying to stand out, you don’t have to be obnoxious to do so. As we covered in tip #6, your play and leadership skills should do most of the talking for you.
Avoid being the obnoxious play caller. For example, you know that talking on the court is a must, but don’t get crazy about it and be so over the top that it becomes annoying. Avoid being a showboater. If you’re a setter, it’s completely realistic for you to want to showcase your great dumping ability, but don’t take every other ball in two and not set your hitters just to get yourself noticed. Showcasing your skills isn’t the same as showboating.
What to do instead: Make sure you hustle – every time, every drill. Talk a lot, but not excessively. Show how much you love the game. This will allow your confidence to shine through naturally! Showcase your skills, but always with humility.
Volleyball Tryouts Tip #9) Avoid dwelling on mistakes
Every player makes mistakes at tryouts, so give yourself some grace when it happens to you. If you miss a dig, serve in the net, or mess up a perfect pass, avoid beating yourself about it. If you dwell on your mistakes it will be evident just by looking at your body language. Always tell yourself, “Next play!”
Avoid playing “not to make mistakes”. It sounds cliché, but you really need to bring your best and not worry about the rest. Also, avoid feeling disappointed if you don’t get feedback. Tryouts are not clinics. Coaches are busy evaluating players and don’t necessarily have time to teach. Not getting a ton of feedback doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not doing well.
What to do instead: Play with confidence, talk it up, and enjoy yourself (even if your nerves are reeling inside… no one has to know)! If you are unsure about a drill, don’t be afraid of looking silly – just ask! Of course, no one wants to be the reason they have to stop a drill – but if it happens, learn and move on.
Rock your volleyball tryouts – after the tryout
Volleyball Tryouts Tip #10) Avoid rehashing the negative
After tryouts are over, avoid dwelling on what you could have done better. You’ve done your best, and now it’s time to wait for the results.
What to do before you leave: Make sure to go over to each coach and personally thank them, with a handshake and appropriate eye contact. Take all of your belongings with you when you leave the gym, but not before you’ve picked up trash near you (coaches hate having to pick up after you) – and heavens, don’t let your mom be the one to clean up the bleachers! High five your teammates and hold all commentary (good and bad) until you are in the car, well away from the area.
So there you have it!
10 things to avoid if you wanna rock your volleyball tryouts (and what to do instead):
- Staying up late the night before
- Skipping breakfast
- Being unprepared
- Distractions (or being one)
- Having a fixed mindset
- Being just one in the crowd
- Being selfish
- Being flashy (or obnoxious)
- Dwelling on mistakes
- Rehashing the negative
- Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, preferably starting a few days before tryouts
- Eat real food – a balance of lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats
- Arrive early; have your equipment ready; do your pre-game routine
- Turn off your phone; be attentive; make eye contact; be fully engaged
- Be coachable; listen well; be open to making adjustments; never give up
- Hustle; volunteer for drill demos; talk; lead
- Play with heart; be a good teammate; be an encourager
- Hustle; showcase your skills with humility
- Have confidence; ask questions; if you mess up, learn and move on
- Clean up your area; take your belongings; walk away confidently; thank each coach personally
Whether you are competing for a spot on your high school team or going out for this season’s club volleyball tryouts, with proper preparation and by following these tips, you will increase your chances of getting that call inviting you to be a part of the team! Good luck!
P.S. Do you have some other tips that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!
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