Club Tryouts – Navigating these Stressful Weeks

UPDATE: This is an article we produced several seasons ago before Tryouts and it was very well received.  We have re-posted it each season since for the benefit of those seeking to play with a club this season.  Before we get to the article, please note the answer to some common questions we're getting so far:

  • Tryouts ARE allowed for the next season any time after the current indoor season is completed.  The indoor season concludes when the USAV Junior National Championships has been concluded (usually around July 6-8).  Our Tryout documents suggest later tryouts but these are only "recommendations".  Clubs may choose to have earlier tryouts based on their unique circumstances.
  • The USAV Commitment Date of September 1 IS FIRM.  Individuals cannot choose a club in the USAV MMS for the next season until that date as that is when the next season's memberships become available.  So, any offers accepted, even during early tryouts, must understand that the USAV commitment cannot be finalized until after September 1.  If a family chooses to break a commitment made during tryouts before September 1, the Carolina Region will not be able to mediate that agreement.  The Carolina Region can only enforce USAV commitments made after September 1.  Please be sure to read the Club Transfer Policy below and during registration before making any commitments.
  • Prepare yourself before tryouts with the information in these documents.  We realize many clubs will try to get answers to offers quickly.  It helps them with planning.  There is nothing wrong with that and if you are ready to give an answer then you can.  But, if you want to attend other tryouts, then know your rights.  If a club won't accept that, or states their offer in ways that are not clear or upfront, then you have gained valuable information about the type of club that is and how they may treat their players/families in the future.  That may not be a club you want to participate with.  Choose a club that fits with your values and treats you the way you want to be treated.

Good luck to all - on to the article...

Volleyball Club Tryouts are approaching quickly.  This is both an exciting and a stressful time for players, families, and clubs.  In some areas of the state, club choices are many which only increases the stress as multiple clubs have tryouts scheduled around the same time.  The Carolina Region is posting the information and perspective below as we feel it is important for families to understand the Region's tryout philosophy before entering the club tryout period.  Ultimately, families are the consumer of this product called "club volleyball" and can wield the most power to insure that clubs that look out for the best interest of its players are rewarded in the marketplace; and those that do not will be thus encouraged to change for the good of the sport.  BUYER BEWARE!

See these documents for additional information on the Club Tryout Process
[Recruiting Statement] [Tryout & Commitment Date Policy] [Junior Bill of Rights]

[Club Tryout Principles] [Club Transfer Policy]

It has come to the Region’s attention that some clubs are scheduling, designing, and advertising their tryouts in a manner that attempts to limit players from attending the tryouts of other clubs.  The Carolina Region still holds to an open and fair tryout policy, and players should be allowed to tryout with any club they choose on any certain day, limited only by the dates and times established by the clubs themselves.  The Carolina Region Board and staff would like to inform our CR members that we neither support nor endorse any attempt by a club to manipulate players into believing or feeling that they do not have the right to tryout at multiple clubs and we encourage clubs to allow families to have choices during the tryout period.  Competition makes everyone better, and clubs should work to offer a club environment that players feel valued and respected.  Allowing choices during this stressful time is one way clubs can support athletes.

Examples that "might" be manipulative tryout practices include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Requiring attendance for certain days/times of tryouts
  • Preventing players from leaving a tryout early or refusing entry to a player who shows up late (but still within the advertised time frame of the tryout)
  • Coercing players to verbally commit or to sign a letter of commitment prior to leaving a tryout.
  • Making an offer to a player that is only good until the player leaves the gym or until the next day
  • Offering 10 spots to 12 players, and the first 10 to accept make the team

While most of the above scenarios are not specifically banned by the Carolina Region, we do consider them to be in bad-practice, creating a disadvantage for players/families and other clubs, and only creating an advantage for the club that implements such practices.  Our Region Board and staff encourage clubs to adopt a philosophy that allows players to attend multiple days of tryouts at multiple clubs while also setting a deadline for signing so that clubs of all sizes are protected and their team finalization is not frozen indefinitely by a player who wants to delay the commitment process.  NOTE:  Clubs that are doing any of the above or similar practices that are not considered "player friendly" are not in violation of any Carolina Region tryout policies, so please do not report clubs for possible sanctions.  Your best action is to not participate with that club and choose a more player friendly club.

What to expect from clubs:  While there will inevitably be conflicts of dates and times, clubs should be at the very least understanding of the inherent conflicts during this potentially stressful week of tryouts.  While every club would ideally like to have a maximum number of players in attendance for the entire duration of their tryouts, clubs that value the player experience and that want players to make the best, most informed decision for themselves will attempt to work with players through this process and will respect the player’s right to choose his/her own club experience; clubs are taking a huge risk for potential dissatisfaction or backlash from families when they monopolize a player’s tryout experience and/or coerce a commitment.

How to handle the tryout process as a player/family:  After researching clubs and tryout dates, decide which clubs are your priorities.  Prioritize those tryouts by attending them first or for the longest amount of time.  If you find that you need to leave a tryout early or arrive late in order to make two different tryouts work within your schedule, contact the affected club(s) ahead of time.  Let them know that you do understand they ideally want you there for the entire tryout, but ask if it will be acceptable for you to miss some of the tryout.  Their response will tell you a great deal about how they will handle you if you become a family in their club.  Do not “put all your eggs in one basket”; diversify, at least somewhat, to create more opportunities for yourself.  You should also be understanding that tryout time is a stressful time for clubs as well and that they need to make timely decisions that are best suited to their needs and the needs of the vast majority of their club.

Ultimately, players and families want the same thing: maximum and accurate evaluations for players.  However, it should be up to players and families to choose how you want to spend your tryout time and experience.  Aside from clubs encouraging players to be in their gym for as long as possible in order for the coaches to make accurate evaluations, player-friendly clubs will not be monopolizing your time or tryout experience by making stipulations for attendance at their tryouts or by forcing a commitment prior to the signing date.

Remember, families are the consumer in this transaction.  If a club has policies that are giving you pause, then they will continue to operate that way when you are an official member of their club.  It is in your best interest to reward clubs that treat their players in a positive, non-manipulative way.  More likely than not, those are the type of clubs that will give you the most rewarding experience!

And for the record, we do not want readers to get the impression that a lot of our clubs are acting in unethical ways.  The vast majority of our clubs are providing a wonderful club experience for volleyball families.  We just wanted to put these tips out there before the tryout period opens as we get some questions and complaints every year about some scenarios and circumstances.

We hope everyone has a great tryout experience and is able to connect with a club for an enjoyable 2024 season!  See you on the courts!