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Ask the Volleyball Coach- Playing Time

Updated on September 28, 2015
Mandy M S profile image

Mandy is a mom of 4 and a longtime volleyball enthusiast and coach. Mandy's other interests include parenting, teaching, and literature.

Volleyball Quotes - A good coach will make his players see what they can be, rather than what they are.  From Ask the Coach, advice to volleyball players, coaches and parents.
Volleyball Quotes - A good coach will make his players see what they can be, rather than what they are. From Ask the Coach, advice to volleyball players, coaches and parents.

Questions about playing time

My daughter is in 7th grade & playing for 13's Club. She played 12 club team last year, where the team was thrown together with some younger players & a few talented players. She played for her middle school team, which is very different from club, where she was a starter & played the majority of games. They were 2nd place in the district. She made 13 Club team, there are 5 teams & she made the 3rd team. She took lessons over the summer & has been taking more intensive lessons starting around the time club season began. I was very excited because the girls seem to be a great team. My daughter is not a great player, but she is a good player. She has been complimented by many coaches that she has great form. We have just finished our 2nd two day tournament. My thought was that the coach would play different players to see how they do. She played very little in the 1st touranament, she made no more mistakes or points then other players. Then today she had her 2nd tournament. There were 3 games, with 2 matches for each game --- the team lost all 3. The first game my daughter didn't play at all ---- she was the only one who did not have any play time. The second game my daughter came in & played back row, she played maybe 30% of one of the two matches. The third game again she didn't play at all. My daughter is pretty shy, but I can see that it's already getting to her. And frankly it's getting to me. I use to be so excited about attending games, but now I'm not. I get upset at the thought of seeing my daughter, who plays hard, tries, & works hard given no opportunity to show what she is capable of doing. The same players get to stay on for most of the games....the more you play the better you get, the less you play it effects your abilities. It just is common sense. Why doesn't the coach try to rotate out when certain players make lots of mistakes? I pay a lot of money & believe if my daughter made the team & is doing what she's suppose tosupposed to do then she should have more time. I tried dismissing it since this will only be our 2nd tournament, but it seems like the choice of players has been made. I want to email the coach & ask what my daughter needs to do to get more play time? So many people, including my husband, says no not to do that. My daughter is shy & reserved. She's a big rule follower, straight A, Gifted & talented student, she plays flute & cello. I know she's just uncomfortable about approaching the coach or any one like this. She's still a kid, so I believe I should email the coach....what do you think? Why do some people believe that coaches shouldn't be questioned? Everyone gets questioned in their profession --- I'm a professor, I get questioned about why I gave a student a certain grade, how is this different? I want to be an advocate for my daughter. Please help. I'm feeling so sad, upset, & angry about the situation. I hide it from my daughter, but I know she feels the same.

VB Mom,

Oh, the agony of sitting at games and watching your child ride the bench. I have certainly been there. You start out looking forward to the game. You cheer heartily for the team as the match starts off, your daughter is not on the court, but you are sure she'll be going in soon.

The first set finishes, and you cheer for the team some more. It's the second set and you know that since your daughter didn't play the first set, she will certainly play the 2nd set. As the second set starts, you see your daughter isn't on the court. Still, you clap because you assume she will AT LEAST go in during this set. As the second set winds down and the game is close to ending you know your daughter is not going to play. You look over at your daughter on the bench. As her parent you can see she's sad. Maybe she's even crying. How could the coach be so mean to your little girl?! You are so angry. You are angry at the coach, angry (irrationally) at the girls playing, resentful of the parents sitting on the sidelines cheering for their precious Sally and Jill. Privately, you start rooting for their daughters to mess up. The girls playing make mistakes and you get angrier. You think, "Hey, my daughter could shank that pass just as well as that girl just did!"

I call it the five stages of volleyball (or sports) parent grief:

1. Denial - My daughter will play soon

2. Anger - That coach is a ******. How could s/he do this to my girl?

3. Bargaining - This is the next stage. How can I fix this situation for my kid. This is where you approach the coach and see if you can get them some playing time. For some this is sucking up, for others this is extra practice, for some this is threatening or screaming.

If 3 doesn't work you go into.....

4. Depression. - You are now in mourning over the lost volleyball season. You had such happy and high expectations coming into the year, and now it's all shot. You are so unhappy with the situation you don't even want to face it anymore. This is where some have their kids quit.

5. Acceptance - Not everyone reaches this stage. Some people just walk away before they reach this stage. But others reach the acceptance stage. For me, I told my daughter just to be the best darn bench player she could be. Practice hard, play hard when given the chance and cheer for the team. She also started watching the court and advising the players and the coaches when she saw holes in the other team's defense or something she noticed that our team was doing that was wrong. This was appreciated by the coach, earned her more playing time, actually and helped my daughter learn that she might enjoy coaching someday.

Regardless, there are lessons to be learned from the bench, too. In the grand scheme of things, even though it feels like the beginning and the end of the world right now, this season will soon be long over.

MY ADVICE: As you said in your post, the more you play, the better you get. I'm assuming that your club practices more than they play. For every hour of tournament time, I'm assuming tat they have at least two hours of practice time. THIS is where your daughter is really getting better. In any game, they play only to 25. The touch opportunities, even for the most active of players, is limited. The quality touches that are increasing the team's skill level are happening in practice, not in tournaments. The thing about it is, you are not likely seeing those playing opportunities, but that is where you are getting what you paid for.

You can talk to the coach, and that may help some. But if it were my child this is what I would do. Encourage my child as explained above in "acceptance" Then I would review the club documentation. The club my daughter plays for only carries 8-10 players and all players are guaranteed to play at least 3 rotations. They will not put a girl on a team that they are not prepared to play at least half of a match. That is our policy, so if my daughter wasn't playing I would take my issue to the club director as a policy violation by the coach.

However, most clubs do not have that policy, they are "pay for practice" clubs where you essentially do not pay for them to play in matches, only for them to practice. If they do play in games it's just a bonus. If that is your club's policy, you are likely out of luck. They are going to play the players that they feel are going to do the best job on the court for them. As a coach, I can attest to the fact that the difference skill level between the player that plays all the time, and the player that is riding the bench at any given time is often minimal. The skill level difference often doesn't warrant the 90/10 playing percentage difference, but since volleyball is a sport that is all about momentum and how well a team clicks, the player who just "fits" better is often the one that gets all the playing time. On a different team, that player might be your daughter, but on this team, for whatever reason, it's not.

My greatest suggestion is have your daughter talk to the coach, if she can muster it. The coach can often give her some valuable information on why she isn't getting the playing time she desires. If your daughter can't approach the coach herself, you can try to approach the coach, but make sure you don't do it within 24 hours of a game. You need to approach the coach with a calm head.

Ask the coach your own question!

Leave a question in the comments and I will answer it in an upcoming article. The question can be completely anonymous!


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