I dub this article the post tryout autopsy. The hard part is over you think -- you made it through tryouts with the drills and the physical tests, all while acting as if it was just another day at the office. You take off the sweaty knee pads, walk out of tryouts and wait… wait… wait to see what team you made. Maybe you check every day even though results are not supposed to be for another five days, but just in case you check. And then finally the link is up.
You open the page and… you do not find what you expect.
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” -Epictetus
Role player on a top team
Role player – player that splits time with another player, typically does a back row/front row substitution. Examples: Setter/Right Side Hitter, Outside Hitter/Defensive Specialist
The number of allowed substitutions in club volleyball under USA Volleyball is currently 12 team substitutions per set. Unless this number is majorly reduced then role players will continue to play a very important role at the club level in a similar fashion to the collegiate game (which allows 15 substitutions per set). During games, role players allow a team to utilize the strongest skills of each player in order to compete at a higher level as a team
If you are considering becoming a role player on a top team, things to consider are:
- Will you get enough touches in practice to improve as an all-around player?
- Will you get any opportunities during games to play all the way around?
- If you are having an imperfect day, will you still receive chances to play?
- If you are competing with another player for a role, how will play time be split up?
- Would you rather compete for an all-around position on a different team?
Bench player on a top team
Bench player – player that goes into a competition weekend not expecting to play or receive very limited play time. Examples: Third Middle/Outside Hitter/Setter/Defensive Specialist
Even in the situation that the third best player at their position is very nearly equal in skill to the other players in their position, there is a good chance that play time will be limited. This is because the more time a team practices with one lineup the quicker the team will improve and the higher the ceiling of opportunity will be. During tournaments, bench players will often receive most of their touches during warmups. As for play time during games, it is not uncommon for a bench player to be on the court for less than 10 points of an entire match probably when there is a large score differential.
If you are considering becoming a bench player on a top team, things to consider are:
- Do you want to join this team primarily to hang out with your friends?
- Can you learn from watching your teammates play and compete?
- How will this affect your collegiate recruiting?
- Will you find satisfaction in just contributing during practices and from the sidelines during games?
- Is there a benefit to NOT playing on a top team?
Contributing player on another team
Contributing player – player that is starting or a role player who goes into competition expecting to have many opportunities to contribute to the team and gain experience as an individual
Finding yourself on a team other than the top team can be a tough moment for anyone, but you are probably overreacting. For an individual, the biggest difference will be the one inside your own head. You will develop and practice more mental strength on this team because the physical opportunities as a volleyball player will be similar if not better but you have to be the one to seize them. A situation where you may be one of the best players on the team means you will be given the chance to learn to lead as well as win games.
If you are considering becoming a contributing player on another team, things to consider are:
- Is your ego (or your parents’ ego) keeping you from seeing the opportunity of this team?
- Can you work with your coach to maximize the growth of your volleyball skills (possibly with extra practice time)?
- Are you attending tournaments where college recruiters will be?
- Do you have the resources to help make the players around you better?
- Would you rather be sitting on the bench for another team?
So, before you lose your mind thinking that your entire season is ruined before it even starts, take a breath and remember why you want to play volleyball. The answer will be different for everyone and each aspect will be weighed differently. But what is the most important thing? In my opinion that thing is that you are getting on the court and bringing your best attitude.
Whatever team you are on, it is a gift to be able to play and one that shouldn’t be wasted.
What are your thoughts? We would love to hear them in the comments section below!