Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Some unique thoughts about tryouts

So, in the Gateway region tryouts for grade school teams are coming up this weekend. 

Volleyball clubs should be very concerned about the development of their players.   But, as a parent or player you need to have an active role in that development.   Here are some unique ways you may be able to impact your son or daughter's development at tryouts.

(1) Instead of trying out just for their age group, consider trying out for one age group older.   Look, it's human nature.   Your daughter is in 7th grade and so should be trying out with girls her own age, right?   Well, not exactly.   As I mentioned before there are only a handful of top clubs in any region.   Aside from those, if your daughter is very good, she is likely to be the best or one of the best players if she plays for a lower level club.   However, for that same club if she played up one age group she might be one of the weaker players on that team and would be more challenged.   So, if you don't want to play for and pay for a bigger club, one way to duplicate that experience is by playing 'up' one age group in a second level club.  If a lower level club won't allow this, then I would avoid trying out for them as any club who wants a player to play for a team they won't be challenged on is not considering what is best for that player's development.

(2) Talk to someone who is really knowledgeable about volleyball and see where your daughter projects as a player.  Then check with the club(s) you want to try out for to see what their philosophy is on putting together a team.  If they just take the tallest players or those who can jump the highest and automatically make them middle blockers, they are considering what will be best to help them win instead of what will be best for the development of their players.   You are likely going to pay a lot of money for your child to play club volleyball.  It should be best for your child, not for the sake of the team's chances of winning.  I have run offenses with three middle blockers or three outside hitters or three setters in the past just to train kids at the position appropriate to them, not at the position appropriate to where the club wants them to play.   If you have 3 good setters and they are your best 3 players, why should one or two of them be used as outside hitters or defensive specialists/liberos?  If you have two good setters you should be running a two setter offense or some system where those two good setters play equal time at setter, at least, and get to play most of the rest of the time at a position appropriate to their skill set.

(3) At tryouts talk to other parents, especially the parents of the best players at the tryout.   Try to get a feel for whether those kids are just there as a backup plan or will they commit on the spot if selected to this team.   Usually players have numbers at tryouts.   Pick the best 15 players you see at those tryouts and write down their numbers.   When a team asks you if you will commit ask them which players, by number, have committed or will commit.  I would get that in writing by e-mail if I could.  Too many times novice parents see a great team at a tryout and commit to a team only to find out that the players they saw at the tryouts are not the ones on this team because they committed to other clubs.

(4) Better uniforms don't make a better team.  If you are choosing between similar teams pick the one that requires less cost for uniforms.   I have never, as a coach, been beaten by a great looking uniform.  But I have seen some really novice teams sporting $100+ in uniforms/bags/etc. for no reason.   Despite popular belief, you don't have to look good to play good, you just have to be well-trained.

(5) If you don't make a team of your choice don't just jump to be on another team.  Touches are great but you get touches in grade school ball and you are trying to get better coaching and be with better players in club ball, right?   So if you don't make a club you want to play for on tryout weekend be more selective.    Remember, if you don't make a club team you can just apply the money you saved by not playing club to camps or clinics the next summer or individual lessons during the year. 

(6) The younger the team the fewer players should be on that team.   Why?  Because larger rosters are for specialization.   If you have a 16-year-old who can't pass serve and you are trying to win the regional championship you take that player out in the back row for a defensive substitute.  However, in 6th grade you want that player to develop all skills, not just use their best skills to help the team win.   Again, it comes down to what is better for the player, not what is best to help that team win.  Winning is only important, in reality, for the top few teams in each age group.   For the rest, it should be what is best for the development of a player.  Yes, you don't want to embarrass a kid if they just can't pass serve but, again, there are ways to hide a player so they are not part of your serve receive if they struggle with passing serve. 

Hopefully this helps.   Here is hoping that clubs work to develop their players as they should.  However, don't accept that this will be true.   If you aren't actively involved in the tryout process, you may end up with less than you expected. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Summer is approaching - time to up your game

I have been coaching for almost 30 years and one story I have heard over and over again is how a kid learned to serve overhand by serving the ball over and over against the side of a garage or even a barn. 

The point?  While the more modern expression "Perfect practice makes perfect" is true, the formerly used expression "Practice makes perfect" also has some merits.  That is, many repetitions, even if all are not perfect, does create muscle group strength and muscle memory.  I am not advocating bad repetitions or technique.   Rather, the best technique that a parent untrained in volleyball teaching can muster from their child.  No goofing around, no bad 'I can't do it that way' attitudes.  Just good, consistent repetition with reasonable overall form.

So, how do we use outdoor time in the summer to get kids better at volleyball?  Here are some suggestions that might help.

1. Use a basketball court

Setting - Once a player gets the concept of how to contact a ball to make a clean set, all that is left is height and direction.  Both come from the muscle strength gained by repetition.   Here are three drills to help with that:

a. set for height - have a player stand about 5 feet from the basket in the foul lane.   Have the player toss the ball to themselves and set it straight up, attempting to make a basket.  Doing that about 20 times will help strengthen those arm, shoulder and hand muscles.

b. set for distance and accuracy - have the player stand at the foul line (or for older players, the top of the foul circle).   Stand about 8 feet from the basket and toss the ball to the player who has to set the ball over your head, trying to make a basket.  If a player wants to practice this themselves, they can toss the ball (relatively high) to themselves and set the ball into the basket.   For players trying to become setters, you can stand on the sideline of the court about 10 feet from the endline.   The player stands at the top of the foul circle.   You toss balls to them and they have to move their feet and get their shoulders square to the basket and set the ball in the basket.  Obviously, all your tosses should be high and somewhere between you and player.

Passing (bumping) -  The player starts at the top of the key and some stands on the end line and tosses them a ball which they try to bump into the basket WITHOUT hitting or going beyond the backboard.  The basket represents the perfect pass and the backboard represents passing the ball over the net, not a good thing.   The tosser standing on the end line simulates the ball coming from the other side of the net.  A passed ball can't go into the basket if it passed too low or straight up or off to the side.  Parents who are adept enough can increase the strength of drill by throwing the ball at the player, simulating a spike or a hard serve.   The goal is still the same: pass the ball high and get it to the net, but not over it. 

2. Go to the sand

Sand courts are everywhere.   Find a sand court and work out.   Any movement you do in the sand is worth 2-3 of the same movements in a gym or even on the grass in terms of muscle development.   Moving to the ball and jumping high, two things most young players need to work on, are just that much harder in the sand.   Plus, it is fun being outdoors.   The only caution I will give you is don't let the player's form disintegrate.   When young players make the transition to sand play they tend to want to not move their feet.   This leads to bad and lazy contacts.   The goal is to have fun in the sand while still improving your game.   This can only be done if you use the same form as you use indoors.   The player will have to move their feet more quickly, anticipate better and put in a maximum effort jump every time just to be at the same level they can do routinely in the gym.   But that's the point, really.   Sand quickens your game and teaches you the importance of maximum effort. 

3. If you build it, they will play

Buy a cheap volleyball set and put it up in your backyard or take it to a local park and set it up.   The only proviso here is that you should bring enough extra rope and spikes to brace both net poles so the net is straight across and at least 7'4" high.  No saggy nets!   This is not picnic volleyball, this is volleyball training.  If you want to teach a player to serve just bring a 50 ft tape measure and draw a line 30 feet from the net, having the player stand behind it and serve the ball over the net.  They can also practice spiking if you learn to toss the ball to them.   I advise starting over close to your player and tossing the ball close to straight up and have them approach and spike.   Be careful not to let them land on your feet!

For the more industrious people you can build your own cheap, easily storable volleyball system.   Here is how it is done:

1. Get two relatively large (at least 2") hollow PVC pipes, at least 12 ft long with a thick wall.  Inside that find how many smaller PVC pipes you can cram into the inside of that large pipe.   The goal is to add strength to the large PVC pipe by putting other, hollow, smaller PVC pipes inside.  Then get four collars designed for the large PVC pipe and hollow them out on the inside so they can slide over the larger pipe.   Get four heavy eye bolts.   Set one of the collars at 10'6" and the other at 7'6".  Drill through the collars and the pole and then slip the eyebolt through and tighten it down with washers and nuts.   You can buy a decent, LIGHT WEIGHT, quality outside nylon volleyball net (with the top cord running through the top of the net) for under $25 on the internet.   Get one that is at least 33' wide but not much wider.  In your backyard, after checking with the utility people, dig two holes 35 feet apart and 2 feet deep.   Get PVC that is just enough bigger so that the large PVC fits EASILY in side of it.  Cut 2' sections of the larger pole, cap them at one end and seal those ends well.   Bury those in the ground, capped end down, leaving only a small amount of the top end above ground, just enough to put another cap over the exposed end.   Then you can insert your volleyball pole in each hole and put up your net.  Provide tension by roping each pole with two stakes and the rope.  

You have just created an under $50 volleyball net system that will last for years (mine has lasted for 6 years and it is still going strong and it is generally up from April to November every year).   Even the pipe is the ground is not a problem if you cap it when you are not using it!   If you want lines for the court you can get four more plastic spikes and 200' of yellow pool line and create your own lined volleyball court, if you have the room.   The pool line lasts about 3 years if you don't repeatedly run over it with your lawnmover.

2. If you don't want to go to all that work get a clothes line and two strong poles.   Hang an old sheet over the clothes line as the net and have your player serve or spike over the top of the clothes line.

There it is.  Sorry for the long post but it is relatively easy and cheap to get your kiddos out there keeping their skills up over the summer.  Most of the work can be done by them, as well, as tossers are optional to most of the drills above. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Individual Instruction. Is it worth the money?

If you figure that your son or daughter's club team will practice 4 hours a week starting in December and go to the middle of April (ending with regionals) you will put in about 80 hours of practice.  If their team plays 10 local tournaments your child will likely play close to 80 games, given that they might sit out a game here or there and occasionally they might play 10 games in a tournament.  At 30 minutes a game that totals another 40 hours.

So, your child will get approximately 120 hours of instruction and play.   Given that most volleyball clubs in the St. Louis area cost between $700 and $2500, this means that you are paying between $5 and $20 an hour.  That is incredibly cheap considering what it costs to get individual instruction.

Most individual instruction runs between $20 and $50 an hour. 

Then why would anyone want to pay for individual instruction rather than being in a team environment?  Here are some reasons:

1. Individual attention.   With a 10 person team how much of those 120 hours is your son or daughter getting individual attention?   Figure 1/10, roughly.   So now you are REALLY paying $50 to $200 an hour for the amount of individual instruction you are getting.   Now does it seem a little more cost effective to get individual instruction.

2. Quality of coaching.  Hey, I commend all youth coaches for putting in the effort to teach the sport I love.  But do the math.  There are close to 700 club teams in the Gateway Region.   How many of those coaches are really quality coaches?  Clubs are struggling for coaches all the time.   Contrast that to someone whose sole job is to train individuals in volleyball.    It is their livelihood to do a good job one-on-one.   They are likely, also, to be good technique coaches.  

3. Touches on the ball.   Mirroring the 120 hour argument above, individual instruction gives many more touches on the ball, and more focused touches, than your average club least per dollar.

4. Flexibility in schedule.   You are constrained in a club environment to whenever the practices and tournaments are.   While you might not have much more flexibility in picking a coach who trains just your daughter, it has to be more flexibility than playing on a club team.

It is pretty obvious that getting individual lessons doesn't train your child in everything they need to be a successful volleyball player.   Besides match play and learning offensive and defensive systems, there is the interpersonal relationship and teamwork components of a team sport that can't be learned in individual instruction.  Plus, individual instruction is more like work than play and we do have be aware we don't want to burn kids out in a sport.

However, getting individual lessons does likely improve your child, individually, more than being on a club team, if they go to enough lessons.    For some parents, that may be the most important thing: getting their child the instruction they need.  An example of this is something I have touched on before: getting your child work at the skills for the position that will maximize their skill set.   You can't always do that in club as some kids will have to be put in positions to help the team rather than being trained in positions that maximize that child's potential in the sport. 

My suggestion is to try individual instruction with a good instructor from a big club.   I might wait until after the club season, go a couple of times and see what you think.   One parent last year told me that their daughter learned more in one individual session than they learned in the whole season from a coach in a low level club. 

Next time we  will tackle the idea of going to summer camps. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Hope 2017 turns out to be great for all of you and you find what you need to improve and grow in your love for volleyball

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My daughter (or son) didn't make a club team. Now what?

This question comes up every year...and it is time for frank talk.

First, there are a number of reasons kids don't make club teams:
  • They tried out for the wrong teams.  That is, teams that were too good for their ability or teams that really didn't need any players and were just going through the motions at tryouts.
  • They got cut from a team they made last year and didn't have any backups
  • They got cut from teams that they were sure they could make. 
  • They missed tryouts all together
  • They didn't understand about select teams and so failed to even try out.
There are many more, I am sure.

Second, there is a chance, a good chance, that your daughter or son just isn't very good at volleyball but they like it and want to get better.  That doesn't mean they are a non-athlete.  They just, for whatever reason, don't have the skill set to make a select team at this moment.   Note that in grade school there are a number of kids who play volleyball because they have failed at every other sport.  I have seen this time and time again.  Kids that really shouldn't be playing competitive sports wanting to play them.  Still, the system should exist that those kids get a chance to work on their skills and become the best players they can be.   I have personally seen kids who had no ability in volleyball continue to work hard at it and become good high school players. 

Let me say this: ANY kid who actually wants to play a sport and truly wants to get better at it should have that chance.  There are plenty of opportunities for kids to improve in volleyball outside of select teams.   In fact, it may be a blessing that your son or daughter got cut from a select team as there are some really bad select teams out there.    Maybe it is due to bad attitudes by the players, bad coaches, lack of practice time, low skill level of the team, whatever.  Whatever the reason, parents and players who got cut from select teams should begin with thinking that it is really a blessing in disguise.   For a kid with limited volleyball skills the old Groucho Marx one-liner comes to mind 'I wouldn't want to be part of a club that would have me as a member'.  Translation: If your son or daughter doesn't have the skills to play a select sport yet and is average (or smaller) size, what does it say about a team if it is filled with those players and how much will they actually improve?

So, once you have come to the realization that it is probably a good thing your child is not playing select, now you should consider other options.   Here is what I normally advise parents to do:

1. There are leagues for kids who get cut from select teams.  They normally play in the winter.  Sometimes these are run at your local Y.  Sometimes these are run by sports facilities looking to fill court time.  These are sometimes run by club teams as a public service and/or as a fundraiser.  Be warned that these are generally VERY basic, maybe not even as good as a grade school league, but these are places where your kids can constantly get touches.

2. The cheapest club team (besides mine) that I have found is $600.   Teams generally cost over $1000 and can go as high as $3000 a year per player, all things considered.    If we look at the low end of $1000, that is a lot of money.  I have done a calculation that showed that if you just consider touches on the ball, if you just go to 4 one-week, 8 hour a day camps you are likely to get more touches on the ball (and likely better individual instruction) than you would get on a local-only club team.    Plus, those touches would be in the summer right before the grade school or high school tryouts, meaning your child would polish their skills right when they need it, as opposed to getting better at volleyball only to have those skills atrophy between April and August.  How many summer, week-long camps do you think you could go to for $1000?  I think, if you choose correctly, the answer would be 3-4.  For many people, this will be money better spent than playing on a low level club team.

3. Here is the big one for me:  parents have to get involved.   In addition to finding out about 1. and 2. above, you have to be willing to get involved in their child's improvement.   Be honest, if your child is doing well in school do you spend 2-3 hours a night helping them with their homework?  Probably not.  However, if they are struggling in school don't you put in more time to help them?  Probably.   The same is true for volleyball.   If you, as a parent, can learn more about volleyball technique you can be the biggest asset your young athlete has.  Practicing with them in the back yard or at the playground is a great way to get them plenty of touches on a ball.   Here is just one example of a good drill that you can do with your child.

Passing: stand underneath the basket of a basketball court and have your child stand facing the basket at the top of the key.  Toss them the ball and have them try to bump (forearm pass) the ball into the basketball basket.   Once they are good at doing that you can toss the ball a little to their right or left to give them practice at accomplishing that skill if they have to move.

Setting:  Do the same drill but stand  perpendicular to foul lane, halfway between the end  line of the basketball court and the foul line about 10 feet away from the foul lane and have your child stand at the foul line facing the basket.  Toss them the ball and have them set the ball into the basket.

Serving.  Have you child stand at half court and have them serve the ball so it hits the backboard.  This works for overhand as well as underhand serving. Or, if you  are in the back yard and have a garage, draw a line on the garage wall about 8 feet off the ground, have your child stand 40 feet away from the garage wall and serve the ball over that line.   Note that I have seen kids make select teams just because they could serve hard overhand and all they did to learn that skill was to practice over and over again for months in their back yard serving the ball off their garage.

There are many more things you can do to help your child improve.  The internet is full of volleyball technique videos.  You don't have to be a volleyball player to teach your child volleyball.   You just have to surf the web to get the information and have to have a passion for your child being successful at something they like.   Any kid can become proficient enough at volleyball that they can be an important part of a team.   It might require more hard work than taller or more athletically gifted athletes but it is worth it, believe me.  But it has to start with the parent being an advocate (1. and 2. above) and a supporter of their child getting better. 

If your child isn't good enough to make a select team it means they have some deficit in their skill set.  Help them to fill in that deficit by being their advocate and their biggest supporter.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Agenda Teams

What, you may ask, is an agenda team?  Good question.  Here is my definition:

In club volleyball, any team whose goal is something other than to make all the players on the team the best they can be.

Unfortunately, any team that has favoritism in playing time or whose goal is to qualify for nationals might fall in such a category.  But, for now, let's limit our definition of agenda teams to those who are put together for some defined volleyball purpose and that this purpose may or may not be in the best interest of individual development of players as volleyball players.

Hey, don't get me wrong.   I think agenda teams have their place in club volleyball.  

In the past, select basketball teams whose players also play high school volleyball have gotten together to play volleyball just to keep their skills sharp.   The season was tailored to and made so it didn't interfere with high school and select basketball

There have also been clubs over the years, especially clubs founded in rural areas, that are designed to help keep their HS program strong from year to year by getting the kids from a HS team to play together all year. 

There are probably more examples of agenda teams that I haven't thought of.  

The key in all this should be the coaching and the commitment of the players to excellence.

I have seen too many times that an agenda team has bad coaching or the commitment of the players is less than necessary to accomplish the goals of that team.

I have seen HS coaches who have steered their kids towards a team that helps their HS program but not making sure that team has a competent coach, at least as good or better than what those players would get if they just went to tryouts like everyone else.

So, as parents, when you are asked to be on an agenda team, just make sure that you are getting your money's worth.   No favoritism, good coaching, reasonable fees and enough commitment from all the players and coaches to make it worth while.   Ask these questions and, if necessary, have a frank discussion with your HS coach to make sure they are aware of any concerns you have.

Good luck at tryouts!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Here's how it should be done!

OK, I have hinted around it but now is time to put all the cards on the table.  Two problems I think exist in club volleyball in our region:
  • Volleyball is too expensive in the Gateway Region.   Club volleyball has become a big business and with that comes high overhead which is passed on to parents.  Plus the smaller clubs, seeing how much the bigger clubs are charging, think that it OK to charge a lot because it will still be much less than what the bigger clubs charge.  
  • This region has become saturated with clubs and teams.  When there are 80+ teams in a division and close to 500 girls TEAMS in our region how likely is it that your daughter will end up with a good coach? Or, how likely is it that 700 kids per age group really need to be playing club volleyball and how does that effect the quality of the learning experience for the better players if the progression of training is based on the weaker players on a team?
What we are left with is mediocrity.   That is not necessarily a bad thing as only 10-15% of kids who play club volleyball in this region are likely to end up with college volleyball scholarships and most of those that do are concentrated in the top clubs.    But with mediocrity (as defined by just getting better for your HS team) should come low cost and THAT is what is not happening.

Many clubs are STILL having their kids buy warmups and bags.  Some of the lower ranked teams in our region are STILL going to out-of-town national qualifiers and big tournaments spending over $1000 per family per tournament if they go with their child.  Clubs are also not looking for cheap practice facilities because the cost of practicing doesn't matter to them because they just pass it on to parents AND, since most clubs are charging $700 or more per player per season, there is room in the budget to pay for expensive practice time.

Club volleyball in our area can be done differently and I have said how over and over again.  Now, here is the proof. 

My club is QUICK VBC.   In the 2015-6 season we had two teams.   They both cost under $300 to play for, uniforms included.   We didn't do any fundraising.   We just kept costs down to the bare minimum by effort and in the spirit of volunteerism.   Here were their results:
  •  The 8th grade team finished ranked 26th in the region.  All 9 of the kids on that team made their varsity as freshmen.   I would like to see any other club make that claim and, if they can, tell us what it cost the parents over the past 4 years to have that result.   The parents of our 14s have paid barely over $1000 to parents TOTAL over the past 4 years to play for this team.  Most other clubs charge over $1000 for just one year.  And, while I love these kids and they are all good volleyball players and athletes, they all come from the North County CYC program, which, annually, has ZERO teams even win one match in the City/County playoffs IN ANY AGE GROUP.  So, its not like we just got a bunch of great players and they had this success on their own.  Bottom line: these kids worked hard and were trained well and we did it cheaply. 
  • The 17s team practiced once a week, on either Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  We only played tournaments in Illinois to keep the traveling down for parents. This team finished ranked 36th in the region (out of 80+ teams).  Bottom line: we fit our schedule into the players' lives and not the other way around and STILL were successful and trained the kids well and cheaply.
Hey, I am not trying to get you to play for QUICK VBC.   We don't have enough coaches or facilities yet to grow the program bigger than it currently is.   However, EVERY club should be able to do what we have done...and do it every year.   That is, keep costs down and train the kids well.

So, as you go into the club season starting with open gyms, I think you should ask yourself these questions:
  • Why do I need to pay $10 a player for open gyms or tryouts?   I doubt that people are getting their $10 worth but the clubs, who sometimes have over 100 kids show up per age group, are certainly getting their money's worth.  Should we really be funding these open gyms for the big clubs when, realistically, 95% of the kids who attend the open gyms for larger clubs have close to ZERO percent chance to make the #1 team or even the #2 team in that club.
  • Why do I need to buy all this extra equipment like gym bags and warmups? 
  • Did my club work hard enough to find free or cheap gyms?
  • Is my club being fiscally responsible with my money?
  • Is my club going to play my daughter at the position SHE needs, instead of the position where the team needs her to play?
  • What is my coach being paid and are they worth it?
So, what is the bottom line for parents: Do your research.  Club volleyball has become and will remain a business.  Unfortunately, unlike websites that rate businesses and services or the Better Business Bureau complaint system, there is not a single place you can go to get a rating of clubs.

Start now and do your research.   That research will help parents become better consumers.  Looking at regional rankings from last year is a good tool.  Asking clubs in advance of tryouts what they will charge and having frank discussions with them about whether they are REALLY looking for a whole team or whether they are just looking for a couple of players.   Asking them about their travel schedule also will help.

To clubs I say let's stop the overcharging families and giving them a crappy product.  I once heard that a certain club director said that they wanted to personally make over $100,000 a year running their club.   Another club director quit their steady, decent paying full time job to become club director.   Another club allowed undertrained grade school coaches who had no business coaching a select sport to not only coach but to have their kid play for free in that program.  Just because they needed a coach for a team they wanted to have in their club.   Teams are traveling to expensive tournaments spending a lot of the parents' money when they have no chance to do anything but win 1-2 matches, usually on the last day of the event when they are playing other teams like themselves.  There are hundreds of stories of kids having to play out of position because the team needs them to do that for the success of the team. Hey, isn't this about parents pay the money to get clubs to train the kids at the position best for that player, not what's best for the team?  There are story after story in this region of people making money and not providing a good product.   None of these examples above should EVER happen if this is really grassroots volleyball and if providing good training at a reasonable price is the goal, as it should be FOR EVERY TEAM IN EVERY CLUB. 

So, to end, here is some more advice for clubs:

1. Don't build your club budget on having 3-4 teams per age group.  The last team (or two teams) in an age group almost always gets the crappy end of the deal.  There was a #2 team in a big club that, this past year, finished in the bottom 15% of teams in the region in their age group.  Thousands of dollars and they finished that low.  Ridiculous.   Did that club give the parents a refund for such a bad product?  I doubt it.
2. If you are NOT a top 10 team in the region, don't charge a lot of money trying to be. 
3. If you are in the bottom 1/3 of clubs in the region in terms of average performance, stop going to out-of-town qualifiers and large tournaments, wasting the parents' money.   You are there to train their kids just to make them better.   From 30 years of experience I can tell you that traveling out of town does little or nothing for most of the kids in this region to make them better volleyball players.
4. Clubs need to stop asking kids to buy sweatsuits, gym bags, etc.   Nobody really NEEDS those things and, guess what, looking good doesn't make you any better as a player...or as a team.
5. Stop charging so much for the cattle calls that are tryouts and open gyms.   Stop using it as a club fundraiser.  The tryout system is so set in stone by now that charging $5 instead of $10 for open gyms and tryouts will not significantly increase the number of kids who show up.  The only thing it will do is make your club make a little less money and to that I say SO WHAT?
6. Coaches need to stop asking to be paid if they can't vastly improve every player on their team every year.  I sincerely doubt that there are over 500 coaches in this area that can do that.  You should coach because you love it and if clubs can't get enough coaches that love to coach AND have the ability to do that, they should have fewer teams instead of paying mediocre coaches to do a mediocre job.  If you are not good at coaching why would you expect to be paid for doing it?  It's like life.  If you are good at your job you usually get paid for it.   If you are not you usually get fired or can't get that job. 
7. Don't form any new clubs or teams out of frustration with the current system.  There are already too many clubs out there.  I don't know for a fact but I would say as many as 10-20% of kids who play club volleyball get cut before they make their varsity team in high school.   That is a sign to me that too many kids are playing club volleyball.   If parents would just save those thousands of dollars and spend it on summer camps they would likely be better off, in my opinion.

It is time to make a change to club volleyball in St. Louis.   Time to make it better and parents should not expect to be crapped on and, when it happens, they should not say "May I have some more, please"

As long as the parents put up with overcharging, bad coaching, not putting each player's development first AND paying the large amount it costs to play on many of these clubs, the situation will not change. 

Time to make club volleyball a better, more cost effective part of the St. Louis area. It should be both things, with clubs improving across the board so that EVERY kid has the best experience possible.  And, if the clubs can't do that they either should have fewer teams or not be in operation.