volleyball-coachWhat do volleyball coaches look for in team tryouts? From my experience of coaching at the high school, club and collegiate level, there are three important categories at all levels: athleticism, skill and will.

1. Athleticism

This has elements that can be trained and others that cannot. For example, height cannot be affected by training regimens. While height has its advantages in volleyball, it is never enough if the person does not possess the other elements, such as quickness, strength, and power. Also, it is no substitute for skill and will. There were times when our club team, who’s tallest player was the setter at 5’8”, would endure insults from the other teams because our team was so small in comparison. However, it just made it more enjoyable to beat the team, especially when college recruiters were watching the match.

2. Skill

in volleyball is of paramount importance. The team that has the best skills and makes the least errors will usually win any given match. We always tested all the skills in our tryouts because we wanted our athletes to be able to play multiple positions. You never know when an outside hitter, setter, middle blocker or libero will get sick or injured, so you must have players who are adaptable and can all pass, set, hit, block, serve, and play defense. Even though volleyball is a specialized sport, teams who have multi-skilled players usually are the most successful. Also, it is important that athletes are able to make adjustments and open to instruction. Many coaches teach techniques differently and will expect their athletes to learn it their way.


3. Will

Finally, there is will. Vince Lombardi said it best. “It’s the spirit, the will to win and the will to excel; these are the things that matter.” An athlete that has this element is a treasure to any team, because will is infectious. These athletes commit their time, their attention and if necessary, do more to make themselves the best they can be.

While these three elements are priorities, there is another element many coaches view with importance.

That is the parents of the athletes. I remember seeing many tryouts, where some parents were such a pain, that the kid didn’t make the team because the coach just didn’t want to deal with them. It was the make or break point. So if your parents are embarrassing, demanding and annoying, don’t let them stay for the tryouts. You’ll probably do better without them in the gym anyway!