As Club Directors prepare for their club season, the entire coaching staff must be brought together to understand the club’s objectives prior to the start of your scheduled tryouts. Essentially, the selection of drills will express to athletes and parents the type of culture they can expect at your club.
Understand the objective of your tryouts!!!
From the organization of your tryouts (information pamphlets, flyers, numbering of athletes, etc.) to the warmth of your coaches, your “Organizational Team” is sending out a message about what the culture of your program is.
If your greeting table is staffed with volunteers who cannot provide any answers, or your coaches walk around with clipboards and make no effort to chat with athletes, your organization is sending out a clear message to athletes on what a season in your program will be like. Although the focus of this article is on your choice of drills, give some serious consideration to the structure of the event. More details on this will be provided in a future post.
Here are five drill options for any Club Director preparing for their club tryouts:
Like any training session, a tryout must start with a warm-up. This can involve dynamic stretching, games or active warm-ups.
If your program generally starts with dynamic stretching, then why not start your tryout the same way. Providing athletes with an opportunity to experience your club’s warm-up ritual will help ensure you get athletes who “buy-in” to your philosophy.
If your club is very de-centralized with each coach doing as they wish, then consider an “Active Warm-up”. This generally refers to the utilization of ball control drills as a warm- up. It can be done with one-athlete-one-ball or two-athletes-one-ball.
Each athlete with a ball:
- Volley & Chase: From behind corner one, athletes must line up and volley high to corner four. They let the ball bounce, catch it, and jog around to corner one on other side of the net and repeat.
- Bump & Chase: With their back to the net, and out of corner five – each athlete must bump backwards over the net. They then chase the ball to the other side and repeat.
- Mini Jump Serves: Toss and hit out of position four (Power position). Chase and repeat on other side of the net.
- Serve & Chase: Serve out of corner one. Chase to other side of the net and repeat.
If your club prides itself on being a fun place to play, why not start your tryouts with a variety of games as a warm-up. Doing so will allow athletes to relax and enjoy their tryouts rather than focusing on their stress.
Athlete-initiated Queens Court: 4 on 4 or 3 on 3. Start by having athletes throw a ball in; later you can call for athletes to serve to initiate the game; drop the rally down to two contacts or one to change things up; and you can even consider variations to see how athletes deal with challenges by having them hit under the net rather than over.
Rather than having athletes stand around and pepper, why not have them move while playing the ball? Place athletes in teams of two on the end-line. There can be two groups of two as each pair would only need half the court. They must pass the ball to each other as they shuffle from one end-line to another.
Variations of each exercise: Volley to partner; Volley & fore-arm pass; Fore-arm pass back and forth; Bump to self & volley over, etc.
Clearly no tryout would be complete without some basic drills every athlete would know before stepping into your gym.
Butterfly: Have athletes start by throwing the ball in to the player on the opposite side of the court. if you want to get the most out of this exercise have athletes throw the ball to specific areas around the passer. e.g. Mid-range left; High-left and so on. This will allow you to review the mechanics of each athlete within the same framework.
Hitting Lines: Depending on how many athletes you have in the gym consider having two setters on at once to increase hitting reps. One setter can be at the net setting middle/RS while the other is on the attack line setting power.
Competitive Team Play
Finally, every tryout must include some six-on-six team play. The quickest way to make this work with a large number of athletes is to divide them equally on both sides of the net. Have six athletes on the court in base position and require coaches initiate the rallies to allow for high-intensity interaction. Quite frankly, regardless of the age class, nothing creates a more enthusiastic rally between two teams than a coach simply tossing a ball in for them to play out. No need to slow things down with coach hitting or coach serving.
Athletes not on the court are lined up on the end-line ready to step in. Players “Wave Through” by stepping in the backrow; back-row players move to the front row and front-row players step out. You might also want to make sure setters are lined-up evenly on both sides of the court 9both in front row or back row). This will allow you to isolate hitters (set RS for example) and setters (tipping game with setters attacking).
Best of luck!
Until next time,
VISION Elite Head Coach