What to Expect in Club Volleyball

JO (Junior Olympic), Club or Travel*…whatever you call it, it can be tough on players and tougher on parents and siblings, but if you go in knowing with an idea of what to expect, it will make life easier. Before you know it, the whole family will become fans of the team and the sport of volleyball.

Tryouts

The tryout process for club teams can be a rigorous process for players and parents. Here are some general tips:

  1. Parents/Players identify teams to try out for – most clubs post information on their websites and outline the steps because it can be confusing the first time you register. Info is posted in early Fall (September or October).
  2. If the club is recognized by an organization like USA Volleyball, your daughter will need to become a member (or get a temporary membership) to try-out.  Again, most club websites walk you through this.
  3. There is a cost to tryout that must be paid before the tryout — typically $25-$50.
  4. Tryouts are based on age – although some girls can petition to “play up” to the next age. The age definition is set by the governing organization the club is affiliated with. Most clubs have potential players tryout with the same age or age-range. Quick tip: pay attention to the tryout dates; some may all be in the same weekend, while others may occur on different weekends depending on your daughter’s age. Most clubs offer “make-up dates” so if you want to try out with multiple clubs, you can factor that in your plans.

Practices

Club teams practice 2-3 times per week depending on age or if it’s an open- or club-level team. Higher level (open) teams practice 3-4 times a week, while club-level teams generally practice 2-3 times. Established volleyball clubs may have their own facilities, but even those clubs may use rec centers or local school gyms for practice.

Games

Then there’s the most exciting part of being part of a club: game day (or weekend or week).  Yes, club teams play in single-day tournaments, multi-day tournaments, qualifiers and so on. These are LONG days for players, coaches, parents and anyone supporting the team.

Most tournaments began with bracket play or playoffs, in rounds depending on the number of days. Advancement may depend on points or elimination.

Teams can travel to local, regional or national tournaments and qualifiers depending on their record, ranking within their region and established level of ability (open vs. club-level play*).

Working Teams

One significant difference between recreational and school volleyball and club or travel is working teams. There are a lot of teams at these tournaments so most clubs hosting these tournaments and the governing organizations over them require the teams to serve as referees and scorekeepers during matches at tournaments. Team members will serve as down (and sometimes up) referees, line judges and will work as scorekeepers.

(Sanctioning bodies like USA Volleyball will require referees and scorekeepers to be certified and all members of the team may be required to take classes – generally online – to learn the rules of the sport.)

*Travel and Club: Some people use the terms club or travel as one in the same, but technically the terms are different. “Club” teams tend to travel to local and regional tournaments; “travel” teams tend to play at a higher level and those teams can attend tournaments locally, regionally and nationally.