How do I choose a volleyball club? 11 things that are extremely important.

Picking a volleyball club is an important step. You have to make sure that you don’t regret joining the wrong club as it can make playing volleyball a lot less fun. Having to switch clubs mid-season is not ideal and therefore you have to make sure that you make the right decision from the start. Let’s dive into this topic and discuss what you should think about.

Here is a checklist of things that are important to think about when you want to join a volleyball club:

Distance from school to your club

If you have to walk or ride a long way before you arrive at the sporting facilities, you might be less motivated to go to the training. Therefore it is a big advantage if the club is playing close by. Also after training, you will have to spend less time before you can get home. If you play multiple times a week, this can save you a lot of time. As a rule of thumb, I would say that it should take less than 30 minutes to go to the sports arena. If it takes a lot longer, you will have to spend a lot of time on volleyball as you have to go there, dress up, play, shower, and get back home. You can lose half a day per training if the commute is too long. Therefore I would make sure that the club is located quite close by. A lot of people quit their hobbies because they don’t have enough time. Make sure that you take this into account when picking a volleyball club to join.

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Where your friends play

If your friends play volleyball as well, you might want to join them. Volleyball can be quite challenging at first, you have to learn a lot of things. If you have friends that support you, it will be a lot easier to get the hang of it. They can support you through difficult moments and you can practice together to make sure that you are able to perform some complex maneuvers. If you go with friends it is also a lot harder to skip training as you can’t disappoint your friends. They will frown upon you if you don’t join them. It is therefore a good accountability system to play volleyball in the same club as your friends. You can also drive together and this makes the commute a lot more fun.

The team dynamics

Some teams have been playing together for a long time and they might be reluctant to accept newcomers. It can take quite some time to gain their trust and to be able to follow all the conversations. If you don’t feel at home in a team after 3 months, something is wrong and you have to think about how you can integrate in the group better. Volleyball is a team sport and you have to make sure that you get along with the other players well. Some call it a ‘vibe’ or connection that allows you to anticipate how other players will react. This type of connection can really improve the results of a team and is really important. 

The coach and captain have to work on the team dynamic. Below is a drill to help with this:

Some teams have more drama and players might have a lot of discussions amongst them. It can take a lot of time and energy to deal with these things. Sometimes it is better to just join another club instead of dealing with all this. 

Especially if you take the place of another player on the field, people can act quite weird towards you. Some people are not able to handle competition and react mean. This can take the fun out of playing volleyball and if it doesn’t get resolved, you should consider joining another team. 

A great way to get an idea of the team dynamics is by joining a few training sessions and seeing if you enjoy it. A lot of teams allow you to do this for free and they won’t mind if you decide to join another team afterward. Coaches often understand that you have to try a club before you make your final decision.

The coach

Your coach will have a big impact on you and therefore it is important that you get along with this person. If you have a difficult relationship with this person, it can be hard to keep showing up as you have arguments all the time.

Some coaches want to focus on physical exercises whereas others pay a lot of attention to technique. It can be quite annoying if you don’t enjoy the exercises and have to force yourself to keep going. You can talk about this with the coach before you join a team. He or she can talk about their vision and strategy. This will give you a feel for the approach that they are taking. Some coaches want to focus a lot on defense, others are more offensive. If your playing style doesn’t match this focus, you might have a hard time adjusting to it. 

Let’s take a look at how great coaches work:

A volleyball coach has to be supportive. Some people are overly critical and this can annoy you and want to quit. It is good to get some positive feedback but the way it is communicated is very important. Some coaches are too direct and this can be very demotivating if you do your best. Let’s face it, not all players have the goal to join the Olympic team. For most of them, it is just leisure and it should remain something that you enjoy doing. 

Opportunities to grow

You have to know for yourself what you want out of volleyball. Do you want to enjoy yourself or become a professional player? For a lot of players, it should remain a challenge to keep it fun. Therefore it is important that they are able to grow and join a group that is performing better. Some volleyball clubs are quite small and they don’t allow you to level up as they don’t have other teams that you can join. Other clubs are very big and this allows you to join another team and make more progress. Playing on the same level for several years can make it feel repetitive as you are not making any progress. It is often great to start out at a smaller club as you can get more attention there. Over time, you might want to join a bigger club as you can get more opportunities for growth. Again, it depends on why you are playing volleyball. Do you just want to have fun with your friends or do you really want to improve your skills and technique? This is something that you can think about for a few hours and then make the decision. 

The sports arena

Another aspect that is really important is the sports arena. You will have to spend a lot of time there so it is essential that you check the amenities before joining a club. For starters, the parking space has to be big enough. There is nothing more frustrating than having to drive around and wait to find a parking space if you are hurried. 

You also have to check the underground on which volleyball is being played. It should be clean, even, not too hard, and have clear lines that outline the field. Some teams play on a wooden surface whereas others play on a type of rubber. This has a big impact on how you will experience volleyball so something that you have to look into. 

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

The dressing rooms and showers are also an element in the decision-making process. They should be clean, in good working condition. There should be lockers available as well to make it easy to store your equipment. 

Finally, it is important to check the quality of the equipment. The balls shouldn’t be flat and shouldn’t be older than 2 years. They should have several items that can help improve your skills (for example cones, jerseys, flags, and so on). The net has to be in the right position and should have no damage. There should be decent benches for players that have to wait during a match. 

The cost

A final factor that is important is the cost to join the club. Some clubs require that you buy expensive equipment (such as shoes, training equipment). This can make volleyball an expensive hobby and could make it too expensive. In general, volleyball is quite cheap to play as you don’t need a lot of things to get started except a jersey and good shoes. The yearly fee should be a few hundred dollars maximum. Insurance can come on top of that but overall it shouldn’t cost thousands per year to play volleyball. The main expense will be traveling if you play in multiple states. If you work with a private coach, it will cost more but not a lot of players do this as you can always ask a team member to help you out with a specific drill.

The support group  

Often there are parents that support the club. They wash the jerseys, provide drinks, drive around and offer support during the matches. This social group can make or break a team as they have a big responsibility to make sure that everything is being taken care of. If the jerseys haven’t been washed after a game, it can be really annoying to play with them again. This is often forgotten about but this support group is essential. 

To conclude, we can state that there are a lot of things that you have to check when deciding on what volleyball team that you will join. One variable can have a big impact. No club will be perfect but it is important that you have fun and that there is room to grow. If you dread going to the club, you won’t keep playing. You can go to several volleyball clubs and see their accommodation, talk to the coach and other players. You can even join some training sessions to see if you enjoy it there. Having to change club mid-season is often very difficult so it is better that you can spend some time on this to make sure that you join the right club the first time.