Volleyball 2014 – 7 Steps To Improve Your Game

2014 volleyball checklistAs you enjoy your volleyball journey please take a moment here to find  a few things anyone can do to improve their odds of success as a player next high school season. The 2013-2014 CIF high school season is over. The high school uniforms are put away and players move on to club confident “next” will be their year. We love to watch you play.

1) Play for a club. The Southern California Volleyball Association (SCVA) lists all club contacts here. Many have roster positions still available. It’s not important whether you win or lose but it is important that you play with the people who share your level of passion and commitment. Play club!

2) Attend a college volleyball camp this summer. College volleyball programs have dates and camps for everyone from beginner to advanced available. Registration is now open for all levels of ability at colleges from Pepperdine and Stanford to Princeton and more. Google your college of preference for its volleyball camp registration and dates. Many of the most popular programs are already full and it is wise to get on their waiting list while you explore options.  You also gain exposure you need to help make a good choice about which college you may want to attend whether you play volleyball in college or not.

3) Get private lessons via your club.

4) Train.

Troy Tanner has always said, “Good movement is good movement.” But you can’t move if you are not prepared. Get additional training – REGULARLY – at least twice a week for injury prevention and performance enhancement. My volleyball specific favorite is Jason Arnold and JAFitness. We train with Jason at Tstreet Volleyball Club. Just click here –  the “Training” tab – on the Tstreet web site to navigate to more information. No class size is ever larger than 8 players and the level of individualized attention and customized training regimen exceptional. There are other places to train. Other players I know regularly train with Redline, EM Speed and Power Training, CATZ, STARZ, Athletic Republic, CrossFit, etc. I’d suggest not trying to train without a specialist. They can establish your foundation and determine areas of strength and weakness. It’s worth not doing this on your own. Odds are you’ll do more damage alone than good. You body has a lot of dynamics at play as you continue to grow and your bones are still green. Specialists are best prepared to diagnose and correct aches and pains. Your parents old school remedies also most likely no longer apply.

5) Play beach (sand) volleyball.

Beach rules are different from indoor rules. So are techniques, strategy and tactics. Nothing will ramp up your indoor game more quickly. You will return to indoor with a far larger arsenal or repertoire of weapons, abilities and confidence. If you are new you may find performing a challenge at first but stick with it. After the first handful of tournaments you will begin to see improvement as you figure out the game. Local sand volleyball is exceptionally well-organized. Several organizations promote beach around here. ALL ARE EXCEPTIONAL and we play in them all. Above all do NOT go out to win. GO OUT TO HAVE FUN!!!

CBVA (California Beach Volleyball Association)

Each beach’s director from Ocean Beach in San Diego to Pacific Palisades in Santa Monica/Malibu is great. Made up mostly of CBVA Board Members, Beach Directors: Ed Ratledge buys the girls pizza. He runs Huntington Beach. At Pacific Palisades Randy Stoklos (the “Chairman” of the beach) makes sure every court has an umbrella for the girls who ref when they’re off. At Ocean Beach and other beaches down San Diego way Jim Tuyay has local sand volleyball coaches show girl’s the dos and don’ts of beach play before every tournament begins. They are wonderful. You may think San Diego too far away if you live in OC but we get there in less than 90 minutes. Beyond locals you’ll find girls who come in from Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico to play. Make new friends and over time new potential beach partners. These relationships are important. You’ll find a slightly different flavor to each beach as well. It’s a good thing. The diversity speeds your development in the game. Beginners will want to start out in CBVA (California Beach Volleyball Association). Pool play seems to be easier but under no circumstance dismiss the level of bracket and medal round play. Exceptional players you will face Yoda says 🙂 and medaling in selected tournaments earns a berth in the CalCup season finale. All the best players are there.

AAU Beach Volleyball (Amateur Athletic Union)

The AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) beach tournaments organized by Denny Lennon and Gino Grajeda are also exceptional. The level of pool play is more competitive and medaling first or second in selected tournaments earns a berth in the JOs (National Championships) and Best of the Beach season finale. AAU owns the trademark to JOs (Junior Olympics) not to be confused with USAV’s ownership of the JNCs (Junior National Championships) trademark. Jeez, as if things aren’t confusing enough 🙂

NVL (National Volleyball League)

There’s a newer set of tournaments getting off to a fast start called the NVL or National Volleyball League.

Learn how to navigate through these sites and sign up for tournaments. They are starting now. Don’t hesitate to discuss getting involved in beach with your club directors , coaches and players. They’ll all point you in the right direction.

6) Don’t be shy. If you have an established level of success under your belt (thanks Julia 🙂 try out for a Volleyball High Performance program. Registration is open now!

Try out for SCVA’s Regional High Performance and Global Challenge Teams (HP). You’ll go to and play in the same HP Championships the girls on USAV’s teams do below. Youth and Select Registration opens February 10. Tryouts March 2 and 8 respectively. Go here.* What is Regional HP? USAV allows Regions to form their own HP teams. There are 41 USAV regions coast to coast. Not all of them have regional teams so SCVA teams see girls coming from Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico as well as Southern California to tryout. The SCVA team has medaled in the USAV HP Championships 10 of the last 12 years. It’s a great program!

Try out for USAV’s Indoor High Performance Teams. Registration online is open now here.*

Try out for USAV’s Beach High Performance Teams. Registration online is open now here.*

* It does not matter if you make a high performance team. In my mind the act of participating in the tryout alone is part of your maturation process. Go and learn how to play under the scrutiny of watchful coaches. It in itself separates the practice players from the tournament players. Who knows. One day you may play on TV. The journey begins here.

7) Plan!

A lot of the opportunities above may create scheduling conflicts with club tournaments. Talk to your club coaches, directors and active team parents who are already participating in the above for guidance. The organizations I’ve mentioned have plenty of dates available so that you can make their events or tryouts. So go to these sites, get out a calendar and start penciling in dates! The best thing about goals is having them. The best thing about plans is having them too! You can’t hit a target if you don’t know where it is … and an arrow aimed nowhere will always hit its target 🙂

What level of commitment and dedication should you put forth? Well, the level of investment is up to you. And as a dad I know it can be intimidating to go try something on your own for the first time. Enlist a friend to go with you and remember, everything starts with the first step 🙂

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