Tag Archives: volleyball preparations

Tournaments: What You Need to Be Prepared

As the club season is beginning, parents and players are getting prepared for the all-day and sometimes all-weekend tournaments.  For those new to club volleyball, here are a few thoughts on what you might need to make it through the day.

It’s a long day, with a different set up for each tournament.  Be sure to know your tournament venue and any restrictions – for example, no outside food allowed.  Some will not let you bring food in the venue…but will allow you to set up tables outdoors (this can be chilly but may be your only option).  Here are some other thoughts:

  • Tournament nutrition is REALLY important.  Players need healthy food, not junk.  Parents should make a plan for having everyone contribute food for the team (see below for some ideas).  This will be a lot easier than having everyone try to prepare for their own player individually – and healthier than running out to McDonald’s for lunch.
Energy bites (recipe link in snack list below)

Energy bites (recipe link in snack list below)

  • Find a couple of parents willing to invest in folding tables and have them bring them to every tournament.  Sometimes tables are available, but not usually.  These can be purchased at places like Costco or Staples for $35-45.
  • Seating is unpredictable.  Bring camping chairs and seat backs in case there is bleacher seating.
  • Every team should have a first aid kit.  One thought is to have parents each contribute $5-10 and have one parent purchase supplies or a ready-made kit.
  • Players need to switch sides of the court throughout each match – having some kind of water bottle carrier will make this a lot easier.  Dick’s sells some of these, but you can also create your own by using a cleaning supply container with a handle, purchased from Walmart or Target.


  • If you have little ones in tow, make sure you’ve got a bag of “entertainment” as well as kid-friendly snacks on hand.
  • Prepare to have a headache…at some point.  As much as we enjoy watching our kids play, tournaments can wear on you.  The noise alone can often create a headache – so be prepared with Ibuprofen or whatever medicine you prefer.

Ok….so now to the food.  Based on my experience, players need to have one “substantial” meal during the day.  If you can bring a crock pot (and extension cord) to your tournament venue, you can do things like meatballs, chili, soup or even pre-cooked chicken strips that you simply re-heat in the crock pot.  We’ve also done taco meat and let our players make their own tacos.  Hot dogs are another item that can be heated in a crock pot easily.  If you don’t have crockpots, you can still do sandwiches and wraps, salads, etc.

Mostly, players need high-protein food without a lot of sugar.  Candy, chocolate and chips will not help them keep their energy level up.  Here are some of my snack ideas – click on link for attached document:  Snack Ideas for Tournaments.

I hope this information helps you to have a positive, comfortable and successful tournament.



Club Tryouts – What Parents and Players Need to Know

So your child is interested in playing club volleyball?  Great!  It will help improve her skills and provide a great experience playing tournaments throughout the winter months.  However, it can be a tough decision deciding which club is right for you and your player – especially if you live in area like ours with many clubs to choose from.

Here is some advice from the directors of three area clubs:  Set Point, Champion and Davie Dazzle.

What are the top things a player/parent should look for in determining if a club is right for their child?

Philosophy of the club  All three directors mentioned this.  Parents and players need to know:

  • Does everyone that tries out make a team or are there cuts?
  • Do they stress teaching the game or winning the game?
  • What is their philosophy about playing time?
  • Is this a club that teaches the correct way to play or simply plays for wins?

You and your daughter need to agree with the club and its philosophies, whether your daughter is the best player or the least skilled player.  And everyone plays club volleyball in order to improve their skill level – so this should be happening on whichever team you choose.

Coaching  As with any sport, it’s important to know who are the people running the club and what kind of reputation they have.  Parents should ask:



  • What is their background in volleyball?
  • Are they someone you can trust?
  • Are the coaches excited to be a part of the program?
  • Do they know the game and how to teach it?

Coaches should be supportive, give constructive criticism and teach skills.  All coaching styles will not be the same, and your player may connect with her coach one year better than the next.  However, you should still feel that the overall coaching provided by a club fits with what your daughter hopes to gain from playing volleyball.

Player/Family fit   Yes – some clubs “fit” better than others.  Questions to ask include:

  • Does your player/family look forward to practice and games?
  • Do the fees, competition and practice schedule meet your family’s commitment level?
  • Does the club add value to your family?

A club should  fit the player’s personality.  This is why attending tryouts for more than one club is great when you are trying to determine the best fit.  The player should like as much about the club as possible – including the other players, level of play, coaches, etc.   No club is perfect, but the season is long and you hope your daughter is still excited to play as the season progresses.

How much should the player’s personal goals for the sport (i.e., wanting to have fun, be competitive, prepare themselves for potentially playing in college) factor in to the club selection?

Clubs and teams within clubs often have different goals.  Some strive to be as competitive as possible, with each player fitting into that plan either as a full-time, on the court player or as a part-time substitute.   Others strive to give each player the same experience and participation.  Still others are a mix of those goals.

Whatever your personal goals are, you should enjoy playing the game – but matching your goals to the team goals is very important to your enjoyment level.  Parents should make sure they understand their child’s goals and adjust their expectations to match.  (Note:  The player’s goals should come first…not the parents.) 

Families should ask themselves:  Why are we doing this?  What do we want to get out of this year?  Since goals change every year, you must continually re-ask these questions.

What really makes one club different from another?

The three club directors we spoke with gave some great advice on comparing clubs and seeing what makes each one different, and potentially a better fit, for your player:

  • The people (see above)
  • Fee structures – this usually is a reflection of what the club believes they can offer in terms of coaching, experience, competitiveness.  Do your homework to find the right match
  • The philosophy (see above)
  • Feeder programs for local schools
  • Parent run versus full-time staff run – both have advantages and disadvantages

Most clubs are a spin off from a different club.  They think they have a better coaching philosophy, fee structure, facility, convience or generally can do it better for their specific target players.  With the number of clubs out there and growth in interest in volleyball, every club is struggling for qualified coaches.  Coaching talent is stretched, so don’t be surprised if you find the best coaches in the area spread over many different clubs.

Bottom line:  you hope that your player falls in love with the game when they are young and wants to continue playing.  Once they start to develop their own goals, you and your player should find a club that aligns with those goals.

Resources available to parents:

Thanks to Fred Wendelboe, Matt Riggs and Doug Balser for their contributions to this article.

Preparing Your Child for a Volleyball Team

So how does a child get started – and prepare for playing on teams as she grows up?  The YMCA programs are a great place to start.  As young as age 8, girls can take part in twice a week programs in the Spring and Fall to learn basic skills and the rules of the game.  The environment is fun, educational and may inspire your child to want to play the sport beyond just recreationally (as it did mine).

YMCA skills programs go from ages 8 to 15, with children placed in three different groups based on age and ability.  As your child progresses, they will receive more “playing time” in scrimmages among program participants.  This brings us to the next question:  what if my child wants to play volleyball competitively on an actual team?

After developing skills through the YMCA programs, your child may want to go on to try out for her middle school volleyball team or a club team.  Most public middle schools allow girls to begin playing the sport in 7th grade; private schools typically start at younger grades.  Girls as young as 10 or 11 can try out for club teams that play in the winter months in Saturday tournaments around the state.  Check out our club page for more details.

So learn the sport and get a great foundation through the Y programs.  The additional ball “touches” and serving opportunities they’ll get will benefit them in the off-season – and help them prep for team tryouts.