Ideas for volleyball tryouts planning

I’ve been through my share of volleyball tryouts. I’ve done them for high school teams. I’ve done them for Juniors teams. I did them for the teams I coached at the University of Exeter in England. I’ve also worked youth national program tryouts for both England and the U.S.

Based on that experience, here are a few ideas for volleyball tryouts to help you with yours.

Make sure you can track the players

It’s really hard to do good evaluations if you don’t know who’s who. USA Volleyball gives trialists numbered t-shirts. Some coaches pin numbers on the players. Some try name tags, but in my experience they tend to fall off once the kids get sweaty. Also, they can be hard to read from a distance.

When I was at Exeter I personally found that having photos with names worked best. One year we had printed sheets. Another year we used an iPad where we used an app to add names to player photos. That let us just flip through. This helped me a ton because I struggle to remember names without seeing them in print.

Make evaluation recording quick

Regardless of which way you go, make sure it’s easy for you to take your visual evaluation of a player and put it down in print. In other words, you need to be able to quickly, and easily find the kid on your evaluation sheet. If you can’t you’ll spend too much time looking. That means less time evaluating.

A good way to make that quick and easy is to group players so they are all close together on your evaluation sheet. For example, when USA Volleyball runs High Performance tryouts the coaches put players into groups by T-shirt number. That way they only have to focus on a small part of their evaluation form rather than trying to find players scattered over four different sheets.

Think about this as you plan, especially if you expect a large group.

Consider using video

If you have the capability, think about taking video of your tryout. If you can’t get the whole thing, then maybe you can at least focus on some key areas and/or activities.

I’ll admit, this isn’t something I’ve done yet myself. The next time I run a tryout, though, I will definitely look at doing so. I think there are some real advantages. You may be able to see some things you did see in-person, which could be very useful if you’re short on evaluators. It’s kind of like watching match video after the fact.

Also, the video could come in handy in the case of a player/parent selection dispute. Having video evidence to back up your decision would be nice.

Have contingency plans

Unexpected things can happen during tryouts. I once found myself in a situation at Exeter with twice the number of trialists (or more) I expected. Talk about having to do some quick adjustments!

You need to be ready for things to not go exactly as expected. What if one of your coaches is sick? What if you have to few (or too many) of a certain position? What if you can’t get internet access? What if the printer fails?

Over the course of your career all of these things – and probably more – will happen. If you’re ready for the unexpected, you’ll still be able to run a good volleyball tryout.

There’s a lot that goes in to running a really good session. There are just a few ideas for volleyball tryouts planning on the more administrative side of things. For thoughts and ideas in terms of what to do on-court, check out the volleyball tryout games & drills guide I put together.

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women's team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.