Club Tryouts – Navigating these Stressful Weeks

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 Guidelines] [Junior Bill of Rights] [Letter of Commitment]

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, nor do we support any attempt by a club to coerce a commitment from a player prior to the Region’s official signing date (for U12, U13, and U14 teams the signing date is Thursday, October 31st at 6 PM; for U15, U16, U17, and U18 teams the signing date is Thursday, November 14th at 6 PM).

Examples of 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 the Region official signing date (see dates/times mentioned above).
  • Making an offer to a player that is only good until the player leaves the gym or until the next day (or any time prior to the official signing date – see above dates/times)
  • Offering 10 spots to 12 players, and the first 10 to accept make the team

While none of the above scenarios are currently 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 has worked diligently for many years to implement policies and guidelines for our Region that balance both the needs of the players/families and clubs of all sizes.  Our current policies encourage and allow 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.

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 2020 season!  See you on the courts!