How to Conduct a Volleyball Tryout

By Rogue Parrish

After you check the summer schedule with your athletic director and review the positions that need to be filled, it’s time to set a time and a date, and prepare for your volleyball tryouts. Even if your program has a recreational focus and a no-cut policy, tryouts help you assess the best role for each player and spot areas that need work.

Equipment, Rules and Clinics

Get ready for the tryout by attending to the nitty-gritty details. You need to arrange for court time, sufficient balls and assistants to help you as assessors. Check district or state rules on whether a libero is permitted and whether your program requires a minimum team size. You may want to set up skills clinics before the tryout to make players aware of the skills they’ll be evaluated on, notes Pennsylvania-based coach Bob Miller in “The Volleyball Handbook.”

Testing for Power

Volleyball tryouts can start with a battery of physical tests to determine power as well as potential suitability for volleyball, with its demands for height, long arms and jumping ability. After a warmup, Miller advises testing each player’s standing vertical jump, as well as an approach jump that permits steps up to the height-measuring device, and finally the standing long jump. You can also time shuttle runs from the end line to the offensive 10-yard line and back, the defensive 10-yard line and back, and the far end line and back. Assessors track time and distance results for each player on sheets attached to a clipboard. These baseline scores help track player progress if you retest players at the end of the season.

Strength and Agility Indicators

To check upper-body strength, have each candidate perform a two-handed basketball throw for distance, suggests coach Cecile Reynaud in “Coaching Volleyball: Technical and Tactical Skills.” For core strength, see how many situps each player can do, with bent knees, in one minute. The classic T-run, timed as the player runs between cones, provides a good measure of agility. The sit-and-reach test shows you each player's flexibility.

Skill Drills, Games and Meetings

Serving, passing, setting, hitting and defensive drills help you test for skills. Look for ball control, consistency and form. Keep a sharp eye out for valued left-hand dominant players, Miller suggests. Move on to game-like situations, such as 3v3 scrimmages and finally, real games. Games also allow you to evaluate communication and leadership ability. Thank the players for attending the tryout, and give them a clear picture of when to expect the posting of tryout results. Meet with players being cut individually before the results are posted to explain your decision, and be encouraging about how they can improve to succeed in future tryouts.

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