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Tryouts - Parent Edition

Tryouts - Part One

"What are you trying to Accomplish?"

Youth looks very different when looking back. I was a pretty arrogant 20 something year old and I decided to pass on my infinite wisdom and knowledge of the sport I had come to love. The youth seemed to think I was pretty cool. I played in college and thought that was the end of the learning process until I met Coach Henry. Coach Henry, a dear friend to this day, has spent years guiding and consulting me in his “old man” mentor ways. He has continued to remind me that there would always be something to learn.

Flashback to my early coaching days, I remember hitting balls at the children at full capacity with little to no success. Henry, in his patented birkenstock shuffle, came over to point out the stupidity that I believed was coaching. After explaining myself Coach Henry rolled his eyes at me and then uttered the following words that would shape my approach to coaching to this day.

“What are you trying to accomplish?”

I have learned many things from Coach throughout the years, but this question

has never left me to this day. If we fail to define our goals that guide us, we run the risk of never achieving the things we set out to do. If we do not define these goals for ourselves, we allow others to define them for us. In youth sports, this is happening on a daily basis and becoming the norm. Understanding the purpose of youth sports for your family isn’t always clear to understand at first but every family needs to understand their “why” before going into this monstrous endeavor.

Compared to my youth, the past decade has seen a boom in accessibility to Club Volleyball. But with so many options, how do families sort through the noise? What do you need to focus on to choose the best fit for your goals? It is very important for families to do their homework on all the different clubs so the right relationships can be made and flourish.

This leads back to Coach Henry’s mentorship which has helped ensure the goals we create align with what we desire to accomplish. It is something that I continue to remind myself as a coach, a club director and engrave into our Fusion Family.

To help better understand how to find the right club for my player, I’ve found the following questions the most helpful to the majority of the families that find themselves at a crossroad.

Why is my child playing volleyball?

This, in my opinion, is the most important question to ask before sending my player on court. Players join club volleyball for fun, for exercise, for school team prep, or even to prepare to play at the collegiate level. These are all valid answers but it is imperative to know your family’s reason to participate in the club in the first place. This answer will also help lead you to what kind of club that you are looking for. Some clubs are designed to pump out D1 athletes. Others may be designed to introduce children to the game while some may have the goal solely to win.

Who is my child’s coach and what are they like?

Take time to get to know the coaches that your athlete might play for. I think it is difficult to play for a coach whose personality and coaching style does not align with you or your player’s goals for club volleyball. It's one thing to ask them for clarification on decisions while it is a whole different issue to ask them to change how they coach. All the different coaching styles can have success but not every coaching style is right for every athlete. Having an understanding of your coach and what priorities and choices they believe in is the best way to find the best fit for your player/family.

What does my child want?

I have coached many competitive teams over the years and I have encountered too many athletes that expressed a clear disinterest to be on a high level team. Parents often push what they think is the best for their player without leaving them an opportunity to pursue their own wants and needs. Only when the opportunity to truly walk away from this sport is presented does the choice, to stay, mean something. Even if children may not know what they want, it is important to teach these aspiring athletes accountability for their choices. It teaches them the process to make decisions that will become invaluable during the season and in life.

Tryouts are a process, not just for us to decide where your child fits into our world, but also for you to make decisions for your family. Take the time to decide why the world of youth sports is important for your family and what environment is needed to help your child succeed in meeting their “why”. Once those are figured out, the rest will take care of itself.

Good luck families and players as you go through your tryouts in these next few weeks. I for one cannot wait to meet the next generation of Fusion Families.

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