Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why is your son or daughter playing club volleyball?

What do parents and players expect to get out of club volleyball?  Let's examine some of the answers and look at the truths and the myths:

1. Playing to get a college scholarship: ( estimates that 4% of US high school girl volleyball players get college volleyball scholarships.  Obviously not all high school players play club volleyball.  While I can't find stats on it, let's estimate that 25% of all high school players play club volleyball, probably more in suburban and urban areas and less in rural areas.  That means that roughly 1 out of 6 high school girls who play club ball actually get a college volleyball scholarship with the vast majority of those coming from the traveling clubs who tend to accumulate the players most desirable to college coaches.  So, not a lot of club volleyball players get college scholarships.   What club volleyball likely DOES do is give its best players more opportunities to get college scholarships.  That is, the best players are seen by more schools than they would be if they just played high school ball, giving them more schools to choose from.   Also, some of the kids who play with those kids are seen by those same colleges, meaning that those kids are more likely to get at least 1-2 scholarship offers that they might not have gotten if they played just in high school.  

2. Improving your ability to make your HS team:

 It is a given that the more you touch the ball the better you get.  It is also a given that the more quality the touches you get the faster you improve.  In grade school touching the ball is probably nearly as important as playing at a high level, especially for inexperienced players.  However, once you get to a certain level, say varsity in high school, it becomes more about the quality of the touches and the level of play in club rather than just playing on a club team.   Quality, high level select volleyball does help improve players for their high school varsity season as it replicates and, in some cases, exceeds the speed of the game in high school.   It is not clear, however, how much just touching the ball in a low level club benefits players trying to make their varsity.   It would only benefit the players if the speed of the club ball was greater than the speed of the high school game.  If the speed of the club ball was similar or slower than the speed of the high school varsity play, then the utility of low level club ball compared to just going to summer camps is questionable.  This is probably really true for kids with very competitive high school programs who have little or no club volleyball experience coming into high school.  Those kids need to get better right away and just playing low level club ball might not benefit them as their rate of advancement might not be fast enough due to the level of coaching they will get and the level of play their teammates are capable of.   So, once again, getting with a good coach and good teammates is probably the key if you want to advance fast in high school volleyball.  If the goal is to just keep your skills up to the level they were the previous year or maybe incrementally improve those skills, or for weaker players who really want to advance their skill level quickly, then getting touches are important and getting those touches closer to the next high school season (say at summer camps) is probably more important than getting those same touches during the winter and early spring on weak club teams that can't compete at a high level. 

3. Just love playing the game and hanging out with friends

This sounds bad but it isn't that bad.  Kids who don't even play in high school play club ball, probably for some of these reasons.   There are so many levels of club ball that there is plenty of room for kids like this if they can find a team with the same goals for the season as they have.   Heck, when kids start playing in adult leagues many of them are playing JUST for these reasons so it is not unexpected that even back at the high school level you will find kids playing with the same goals.

Just some things to think about as your son or daughter gets into high school, makes their high school team and then is looking for what to do this winter.