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Juniors Girls Club Volleyball for 2020-2021

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR GIRLS CLUB TRYOUTS

By Az Volleyball Mom, 10/10/20, 1:30PM MST

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Finding a Juniors' Club Volleyball Team in the Arizona Region of USA Volleyball

The Arizona Region of USA Volleyball just released the 2020-2021 Junior Girls' Schedule. Here's a play-by-play of nearly everything you need to know to navigate this unique season.

WHY PLAY CLUB VOLLEYBALL?

If you're just hearing about club volleyball for the first time, or if you've been in the sport for a while, you might be asking yourself about the benefits of club volleyball.

As a mom of a girl who's been playing the sport for more than 10 years, I still find myself learning new things about the ins and outs of club volleyball... especially during this historical pandemic.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be providing resources to help families prepare for girls club volleyball tryouts. Please be sure to invite your friends to like our social media pages - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter - so they can get in on these good tips, too!

First, let’s start with the basics.

BENEFITS OF volleyball FOR YOUTH ATHLETES

Burn calories. Burn fat. Tone and shape the body. Improve eye-hand coordination. Speed, balance, and agility are gained.

What I enjoy most is seeing my daughter smile. Volleyball can give moods a boost. And, most important, volleyball is a great way to have some fun and make new friends!

As for this volleyball mom, I like that this sport is played indoors! 6 hour tournaments aren’t so bad when you’re in the A/C.

WE TRIED REC VOLLEYBALL. NOW WHAT DO WE DO?

Most junior boys and girls get a taste for the game at their local recreation spots or school P.E. classes. Whether in your local community or through a nonprofit sports organization, juniors who enjoy the game start searching for more competitive play and bigger commitments to the sport.

This is what my daughter was wanting. Faster play, higher level instruction, and more game time. We found that at the club level.

STRUCTURE OF CLUB VOLLEYBALL

USA Volleyball is our parent organization. USAV creates the rules, provides training, hosts national tournaments, etc.

The Arizona Region is one of 40+ regions under USA Volleyball.

The Arizona Region is home to various volleyball clubs throughout the state. You can find a directory of clubs here.

Volleyball clubs have teams of various age divisions. Check out which age division your junior falls into here.

Each age division can have three skill levels; Club, Championship, or Open level teams.

WHAT IS THE 'ARIZONA REGION' OF USA VOLLEYBALL?

We are one of the 40+ local regions of USA Volleyball.

Our mission is to promote, govern, oversee, plan, and coordinate amateur indoor and outdoor volleyball in the “Arizona region.” It’s a mouthful. But, if you want to play hard court or sand volleyball in Arizona, we’ve got you covered. (We also have an adult league!)

The Arizona Region of USA Volleyball provides a schedule of local tournaments. The top teams at the end of the season may go on to compete with teams through the U.S. at the USAV National Championships.

This sounds great! Where do we start? Start with a few important questions.

IS MY CHILD A GOOD FIT FOR CLUB VOLLEYBALL?

Before you dive in, you need to ask yourself a few important questions.

  • Why does your child want to play volleyball? For fun? For stress relief? Because she LOVES the game? (We hope this is why!!) Knowing what you want to accomplish over the next 8-9 months is a good place to start.
  • How important is it to you to be playing with a team near your home? How far are you willing to travel to practice a few times a week? If the answer is 10 minutes, you should look for clubs in your area. If you play at a higher level and are looking for a more elite team, your travel time might be much longer. Teams might practice on weekends, too. Be sure to know your answer to this question before tryouts.
  • Realistically, what is your athlete’s knowledge of the game and athleticism? Trying out for an elite team may not be in your best interest until that knowledge and skill has been developed. Attending open gyms prior to tryouts and asking potential clubs and coaches questions about how your child fits into their program is worth your time and effort. Because club tryouts are held on the same day… and usually at the same time… you don’t want to miss out making a team. Use the Open House Period to check out different clubs and see if one is a good fit for  you.  It is also a great opportunity to meet the other players who might be forming teams and to find out if you enjoy the atmosphere.  You will need to know what club you want to join before the tryout date arrives.
  • Understand each child grows at a different pace. If your child is a six-rotation player at the beginning of the season and a teammate surpasses your child's skill level, are you okay with bench time? No coach can guarantee your child’s playing time. Playing time is usually earned. It’s another good discussion to have with your child about expectations heading into the season.
  • Expense. Be sure to ask about the cost of any team you’re considering joining. Find out if travel expenses are included. If your team travels, understand flights, hotels, and meals are added expenses. Ask about any additional uniform expenses such as shoes, volleyballs, and knee pads. Many clubs ask for an initial down payment at the time of signing. Again, ask these questions during Open House Sessions.
  • Team’s goals. Is your team hoping to qualify for USAV Nationals next summer? Are additional tournament expenses included in your monthly fees? Or will the fee for entering Nationals be tacked on next summer if you qualify? Are you contractually required to be a member of your team if it qualifies for Nationals? (The answer to this is mostly likely YES.)
  • How many players are kept on the team? If the coach and/or team are not consistent with what your family was told before you signed the contract, will you be granted a refund and allowed to go to a different club?  Once you sign a contract or verbally or monetarily commit to the club, you are considered part of that club for the entire season - through the last day of Jr Nationals - in July.  If you leave before that, you must secure a Release from the club before talking to any other club about participating with them.  The club is not obligated to give you a release.  The contract signed is a legal document - do your homework before you sign with any club.
  • Where do your children’s friends play club volleyball? Are they happy? It’s always a good idea to reach out to other parents and ask about the pros and cons.

WHERE CAN WE FIND VOLLEYBALL CLUBS IN OUR AREA?

The Arizona Region has a club directory for you to begin your search.

Also check out how teams finished at the end of the last season by visiting our Tournament Info page. You can click into “Open Division”, “Championship” or the "Club" division links to see how the teams placed.

Wanting to play at the elite level? Which Arizona teams made it to the Girls Junior National Championships? Visit our Nationals Archives to see historical data on final placements at the USAV’s highest levels. (In 2020, USAV Girls National Championships were cancelled due to COVID-19. You would need to go back to 2019 to see final rankings.)

TRYOUTS

HOW OLD IS YOUR CHILD? THIS DETERMINES WHICH TEAM YOUR CHILD IS ELIGIBLE TO TRYOUT FOR.

If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's this. Put your child on a team at their own age level... or at least very close to their age level.

Skipping up several age divisions may result in your athlete missing out on the some the most basic and important fundamentals of the game. This is especially true for younger athletes at 10-14 years old.

You will find your child's team competing against high level teams in the same age division at local tourneys. When a 10-year-old on a 14s team is on the court facing a highly competitive 14s team across the net, it becomes quickly apparent the difference in size and skill level. It's certainly something to consider if you're being offered to "play up."

Check out our handy birthday calendar. New this year:

  • The junior age definition for each age group was adjusted by USAV to a start date of July 1st, (the date had previously been September 1st).

HOW DO WE KNOW WHICH SKILL LEVEL TEAM IS BEST FOR OUR CHILD?

Right after knowing which age level your junior fits into, start looking for a team that best fits your child's skill and competitive level.

You'll find all combinations of team ages and abilities throughout the state. (Again, look at team rankings from previous years.)

THREE LEVELS OF PLAY

“Girls club volleyball has become wildly popular since we founded in 1989. It’s also a year-round commitment,” explains former AZ Region Juniors Coordinator Charlotte Pottle. “When first starting out as a young female player, you should start looking into prospective clubs around September/October.”

Q: What's the difference between Club, Championship, and Open divisions?

A: The Arizona Region offers three levels of volleyball for girls. The purpose is to provide volleyball opportunities for children at a variety of levels and ages.

The “Club” division is for athletes with little to no volleyball experience. It is for the 12 and under (12U) age groups as well as new/developmental athletes in the 13-16 and under (13U-16U) age groups. Club teams typically do not travel out of state. Since Club division is the only option for 12U teams, the higher level teams may travel to out of state tournaments. On tournament days, club level teams play in a morning pool or an afternoon pool. A girls' schedule of game days is posted on our region website and will be given to you by your club coach for advance planning.

Championship” is the region’s “mid-level” competitive division. Some Championship teams travel, but not a lot. These teams want more tournaments in-state at a higher level of play than the introductory club level. Championship division tourneys also have morning or afternoon pool waves. You typically know what time and where you’ll play the Thursday prior to your matches. Follow the region on social media for tournament alerts as soon as they are released.

Open” division is the highest level of club volleyball the region. Open has fewer scheduled days for tournaments by design so the elite teams can travel to more National Qualifiers held out of state. Except for the Seeding Tournament and the Region Championships tournament, the Open teams will play 2 matches with a cross pool match in an AM or PM wave format.  Remember, Club and Championship teams just play their bracket pool play in either the morning or the afternoon on a Saturday. Open tourneys are played on Sundays.

MY TWO CENTS

Go to a variety of clubs and allow your athlete to participate in Open House Sessions. Be realistic. Ask the coaches and club directors at which level they think your child should be playing. You'll get a feeling after a few sessions as to where your junior should be placed and whether he or she is having fun. That's most important... is to know if your kid is happy.

Also remember this; Younger players develop skills at a different pace. Your child might start the season as "the best" player and then find herself middle of the pack by mid-season. It's important to find a coach who will continue to grow each athlete throughout the season.

Additionally, and I can't stress this enough -- playing time is earned in club volleyball. Getting to nationals is the goal for many teams. This is a competitive sport... which means competitive decisions have to be made. Someone usually sits the bench. Are you okay with this if it's your athlete? It's the tough question every family has to discuss.  Bench players must train as if they are going to be playing because they are just one bad day or injury away from being on the court.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR TRYOUTS

A few things need to happen before tryouts. First, you need a membership through the Arizona Region of USA Volleyball.

  1. You may start the application process for your 2020-2021 season membership now. Any involvement in boys teams or girls' pre-season Open House sessions or clinics require a 2021 membership. Login Link
  2. There is a new system for registration this year.  One parent for each child must have a SportsEngine account before they register their child.  The system requires a SportsEngine account for the parent to sign the waivers and purchase the membership for their minor child.  However, the parent does not need a paid membership.  
  3. Be sure to read and sign all the necessary waivers.
  4. Take a copy of the confirmation of membership to Open House Sessions and Tryouts.
  5. Once tryouts are over and your child has made a team, the club will send an email invite to accept the roster position.  You must accept the roster invitation for your child to be put into the club's directory and onto a roster.  IMPORTANT:  You must give the club the player's name (exact spelling of the name) and parent's email address as was used to register the child to the club for the invite.  If anything is off, it will cause issues with roster assignments.

OPEN HOUSE SESSIONS

The best way to meet coaches and learn about clubs is by attending open house sessions.

The Arizona Region has established an Open House Period for players and their parents to visit different clubs in an attempt to decide which club to tryout and join for the 2020-2021 season. The Open House Period is a 10-day period prior to the specific age group tryouts. Check out our Junior Girls Schedule here.

During the Open House Period, a club may host a maximum of 3 Open House sessions for each age group which is not more than 3 hours in length - note that the session may be divided into 1.5 hour sessions to accomplish fewer people in the gym at one time due to facility restrictions of COVID 19.  The club MAY evaluate potential club members by running athletes through skills tests and physical tests, MAY talk to the players and their parents about their club, and MAY let you know about what level you might fit into in their club.

The club MAY NOT offer verbal, written or implied offers for any player a position on any of their teams. Clubs MAY NOT collect any commitment fees or down payments to hold a spot on their team. Clubs MAY NOT ask a player for a commitment prior to tryouts and MAY NOT require you to attend more than one Open House session at their club.

It’s YOUR responsibility to know important rules about the quiet period for high school volleyball players and private lessons during the Open House period.

Girls on their high school teams are NOT allowed to communicate with clubs or attend any open gyms until the day after their final high school match. For some girls, this may mean at the end of high school championships. Please double check with your high school coach.

Due to COVID 19 and the AIA extending their Championships out to Nov 21st, we have had to adjust our Open House Periods and Tryout dates for all our girl's teams.  It is our intent to cause the least intrusion for the girls playing for their school teams in the State Championships.  We have had to make some hard decisions for this crazy year.  

Find more rules and information on our website here.

THE CONTRACT

It should go without saying… but here it goes. READ THE CONTRACT.

Clubs have very strict policies regarding how and when a player may be released from a contract. Remember, committing to a spot on a team means you commit through the end of the season - that is the last day of the Jr National Championships in July; not the last day of Region play in May. Read every word of every sentence in your contract before you sign.

**Players are not released from their club affiliation for the season until after the Girls Junior National Championships ending in July. Players who leave a club to join another club without first getting a release from the first club and the release being approved by the Region are subject to sanction.**

BEST PRACTICES - THE POLICIES

To find out more about rules and regulations through the Arizona Region, please review our Policies Manual.

Summary: If one club has to badmouth another club to convince you to join their club, what does that tell you about that club? Are those the type of people you want to deal with all season?

Beware of clubs promising starting positions, college scholarships or other flattering come-ons. All players in the 12s and 14s divisions should be developed in all positions and not concerned with scholarships. Find out if the club will develop your son/daughter to their potential no matter what their place on the team. Some offers of camp scholarships or other financial arrangements can be a violation of the NCAA or AIA Paid Athlete Policies and would jeopardize your child's status for school or collegiate play.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Don't go it alone. Ask your friends who play club volleyball why they play and what they like and don't like about it.

Club volleyball is a commitment. It's a money commitment. Time commitment. And the experience will last a lifetime. Make sure you're happy and confident in your decision.

Placing my daughter in club volleyball is one of the best decisions we ever made. While we've had ups and downs, the sport has taught her what it means to overcome adversity, work hard, work even harder, and the importance of good sportsmanship. These are skills she'll need when it's time to go out into the real world.

All of us in the AZ Region are happy to answer your questions and help get you started on the right foot. Let's all stay healthy this year so our kids can play and have fun on and off the court!

-AZ Volleyball Mom, Jen Barber

QUESTIONS? CONTACT US.