There’s a thread on the VolleyTalk board about the tryout results communication process. It starts with the somewhat old-school practice of posting a sheet with the list of players to make the team on the gym wall. Players then look to see if their name is on it. There are, of course, variations on this theme. For example, a coach could bring the players together and read the names of those who made the cut. The common thread to this approach is to avoid actually saying someone didn’t get a place on the team. Coaches view this as something of a mercy. Not that the result hurts any less, of course.

The other primary approach discussed was individual meetings. In this case not only do you take out the group element, but you also personalize the experience. For those players not making the team, they can be provided with feedback and reasoning. This might motivate them to improve for the next season. For those who did make the team, the coach can talk about their likely role in the squad as a beginning of setting expectations.

Generally speaking, contributors to the forum thread felt the latter was the better course of action – though certainly no one said it’s the easier course of action. Of course having individual meetings isn’t always something you can reasonably manage. If you have a very large turn-out for tryouts, scheduling one-on-one meetings becomes impractical.

In my own case during my time coaching at Exeter in England we had a couple of issues. One was the large numbers across two teams. The other was that we were doing a kind of rolling tryout. We knew from experience that some players don’t hear about the tryouts or have conflicts which mean they can’t make the first date. At the same time, though, we can identify players who simply lack the skills to be on the team. Plus, we were severely space constrained, so struggled to handle large numbers. Our solution was to have a multiday tryout with final team decisions made after the last date, but with obvious cuts being made after each session to attempt to keep the numbers manageable.

In this process the club captains used Facebook to communicate which players progressed after each session. Essentially, this is similar to the list on the wall approach mentioned at the top. Not very personal, to be sure, but with the numbers and the structure of the tryouts, it’s the most practical solution.

What about you? How do you handle the tryout process?

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.