What to Expect at Tryouts

Because we have limited coaching resources and gym times, and to place players with others of similar ability, we hold a tryout session for each grade at the beginning of the season. This can be a nervous time for players no matter how many years of experience they have.  It is stressful for the coaches and club organizers too as we strive to make the best decisions to get the best outcome for the players who came out and tried their hardest.

What should I bring to tryouts?

Note:  The forms needed for registration will be posted during the first week of October when they are released by the league.  You may register for tryouts and then come back to grab a copy of the forms in October.

  • Bring a water bottle if you have one
  • Wear comfortable gym shoes
  • Wear knee pads if you have them
  • Bring your NCR Registration Form
  • Bring your Medical Information Form
  • Bring your Letter of Commitment Form
  • Bring your checkbook and 4-5 checks
  • Bring a great attitude and lots of smiles - nobody knows how things will turn out so let's have as much fun as we can during the process

How do tryouts work?

We issue a tryout number and a card to each of the players, then split them into groups so we can evaluate their skills in a number of areas: Serving, Passing, Attacking, and Setting.  We rate each player on each skill, then move to the second part of tryouts by grouping players with similar scores and watching how they scrimmage together.  A player might have good skills but be quiet and slow on the court, or they may have lower skill scores but be animated and encouraging, talking and guiding the team, smiling and hustling.  All during the tryouts there are numerous coaches watching each player to assess the best team placement for each.  Once the assessments and selections have been determined, the teams will be announced immediately and the players asked to bring their parents and join the coaches for a quick team welcome and overview, collection of registration info not already entered online, and collection of team fees.

How are teams selected?

Younger teams with many beginning players are assessed on coordination, hustle, attitude, smiles, coachability and natural talent.  Most will not have played any volleyball or have much experience with team positions.  The 12-1 coaches will pick the ten players they want to work with for the coming season.  The remaining players are evaluated for the 12-2 team, and if we have adequate coaches and gym time we may evaluate for a 12-3 team.

As players get older, their experience is deeper and some have specialized experience in one or more playing positions.  Each team only needs a few Outside Hitters, Middle Blockers, Setters, Right Side Hitters, and a Defensive Specialist or Libero.  The coaches will pick players they feel have the best potential for each of those positions. The players not selected for the positions on the first team will be considered for the second team, and so on.

How are teams announced?

We post a list of tryout numbers assigned to each team outside of the gym.  Players are asked to gather their belonging and parents and to meet the coach and teammates, finalize registration forms and commit to the team.  Any remaining players who are not selected for a team are callback candidates in the event that someone chooses not to commit to a team, and they are given info about other clubs in our area which have upcoming tryouts.  We want as many people as possible to play volleyball, even if we do not have enough coaches or gym time to provide that option at WAYVA.  This can be a sobering experience for all the players as they realize they are not on the same team with their friend, did not get on the level of team they secretly hoped for, or they are a callback candidate if someone chooses not to join a team.

Why is the team selection announced this way?

We try to find the right balance in completing the team selection process while respecting the tender feelings of our player candidates.  There is a rush at the start of every season to get teams finalized and uniforms ordered.  All clubs in the North Country Region will ask their players to sign a 'Letter of Commitment' indicating they will be joining the team for the season.  Every club needs a player's Commitment right away to adhere to the season timelines. Every player deserves to know their outcome immediately so they can plan accordingly, whether to commit to the team or to look at alternate clubs.

This is a time of raw emotions for the players - they had the courage to come and work hard for a couple of hours and try to earn a spot on a team.  They have hopes of playing with a specific friend, and all want to be on the first team rather than the second team.  Sometimes things do not work out as they hoped and they will need the support of their parents to help consider and choose their best way forward.  We respect each player's right to choose whether to play with a team or not, and of course we surely want them to play with us, but the decision to commit has to be made quickly. Often a player who is sobbing and distraught on tryout day wakes up the following day all smiles and excitement for the first practice.

What is the Letter of Commitment?

USAVolleyball is the head organization for club volleyball.  They sanction the practices and tournaments and provide training and support for all Junior Olympic volleyball clubs.  They require a player to select a club they wish to play for and commit to that team for the season.  This prevents people from trying out at 3-4 clubs and being placed on multiple teams.  Once you sign the Letter of Commitment, the league rules prevent you from trying out or playing for another club for that season.

What must be done after being selected for a team?

After joining your coach for a welcome discussion, you will be asked to complete forms to get the team finalized and uniforms ordered.  You will need to provide payment, registration forms, medical forms, uniform sizing agreement, and Letter of Commitment.  You will tell the coach what nights work best and worst for practices. The coach will discuss the first practice dates and probably ask about scheduling a team pot-luck gathering to do some team building and kick off the season.

Can parents watch tryouts?

Over the years we have found that players focus on tryouts much better when they are not looking over to see if mom or dad are scowling or smiling at something they just did.  We prefer parents run some errands and come back when asked so you can be present as teams are announced.

Combination Teams

Occasionally we will have an odd number of players at a particular age group and will combine ages to form a team.  JO teams compete in two year increments, 7th and 8th grades compete against each other, 9th and 10th grades compete, etc.  If we get an odd number of players in a set of grades, we may choose to select the ten best players from the candidates for the two grades.  These teams often perform very well but it is good to know ahead of time that this could happen.  Players may balk at playing with someone a grade younger, then find they are great players out on the court.  Within a few practices they are all friends and having a great time playing as a team.