Bump, set, spike! If that phrase means nothing to you, you could use a bit more practice before volleyball tryouts this fall. Read our tips to prepare before you step onto the court.
Fit to Play
Coach Tom Turco of the celebrated Barnstable High School volleyball team in Massachusetts—who led his team to 17 state championships—ladvises his athletes to be in top shape before tryouts.
"[I tell them] that they need to be in very good physical condition and give them info on formal group workout sessions throughout the summer," Turco says.
Find a group class you can join at your local gym or recreation center to stay in shape ahead of tryouts. For reference, Turco's players are required to run a mile in less than eight minutes. If you can't join a gym, find a friend to meet for workouts.
Find an Outside League
Practicing in the off-season serves as a skill-polishing session in itself. Consider joining a club or recreational team. Rec leagues may be the best bet if you're just starting off, while club teams are generally more competitive (and expensive).
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Either way, any outside league will help you prepare for your school tryouts. Give it 100 percent in your outside league and be sure to ask your coach for ways to improve. Learn from your teammates, too. Teammates are all for building up each player for the good of the team. If you need to work on your serves, for example, ask the best server for some tips.
Conditioning is Key
Try these volleyball conditioning drills to build strength and sharpen agility before tryout day. These will improve your speed, agility, jump height and calmness under pressure.
Substitute a friend or family member for the coach's role in the fourth drill. If you can, run through each drill every day before tryouts.
Show Up at 100%
"Please eat before you come to tryouts and get a good night's sleep," Turco says. Staying up late the night before tryouts watching volleyball videos won't do you any favors if you're dragging on the court the next morning, struggling to keep your eyes open. Be sure you've had a healthy, filling breakfast before tryouts so you don't feel weak or tired.
Height is Just a Number
For better or worse, volleyball is one of those sports that does place some emphasis on genetics. If you're not very tall, though, don't quit before you even start. Shorter players may not be the best blockers on the team, but they can be stellar servers and quick on their feet. A lack of height will not rule you out.
On the other hand, if you're a taller athlete who prefers a different sport, consider giving volleyball a shot. You may find your height makes you a natural, and you never know if you'll fall in love with a sport unless you try.
Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor are best known as "the greatest beach volleyball team of all time," according to Team USA, but both women played other sports growing up, too. Though the women have three gold medals (with Walsh Jennings going for a fourth in Rio), they haven't dedicated all their athletic years to just volleyball. Walsh Jennings was on her high school basketball team, while May-Treanor participated in soccer, tennis, dance and track and field.
Any sport can help get you in shape for volleyball and the skills learned in other sports—whether it's speed in soccer or jumping strength from track and field—can translate onto the volleyball court.
You Made It? Keep It Up!
So you made the team? Congrats! But don't stop your drive now. Volleyball season is quick and since it starts right after summer break, you have a lot to learn very quickly.
"After so many years coaching it is a reality that the players have a summer, too," Turco says. "We have an ongoing progressive conditioning element in our daily practice. We want to be at our peak for the State Tournament in November."
Find volleyball camps and clinics near you.