So you’ve spent months working on your spike. You know what a high line shot is. You are finally in the top level of your club.
You know volleyball, and you’re ready to go to the next level. You’re ready for the professional stage.
How do you get started?
From Amateur to Professional
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. This article will assume you’ve already put in a fair amount of hours in mastering volleyball. Now that you’re eyeing the professional ranks, how do you get started?
First, Start Training Like a Professional.
Entering the professional league puts you up against the best players in the world. You’ll need a training regime that lets you stand at least a sliver of a chance. And most importantly, a sustainable regimen that will prolong your career because volleyball can be hard on the joints. You’ll need training drills that incorporate the following:
- Skill drills
These drills will make the right movements second nature and allow you to bring them out seamlessly at game time. You’ll need drills where you focus on footwork, communication, and teamwork.
Every volleyball player you meet will be well-rounded because of the way the game works. Focus on drills that give you advantages in specific situations to stand out.
- Communication drills
At the higher levels, you won’t be able to carry the team on solo effort alone. Solid teamwork will be important for breakthroughs and it’s impossible to move upwards otherwise.
Hand signs will become a big part of your game. You need to drill signals with your teammates to make sure everyone’s on the same wavelength. Reading the opposing team’s signals gives you a solid advantage when everyone’s skill levels are more or less equal.
So it’s important to find ways to communicate covertly and avoid having your signs read.
The following drill is for indoor volleyball but can be used for beach volleyball as well:
The big leagues require relentless energy unless you want your competition to run circles around you. You need endurance, quickness, explosive power, and general conditioning. You won’t be able to play every single ball to its fullest without that.
Future Proofing Your Career
Volleyball isn’t easy on the body. Understand the fundamentals of massage therapy, flexibility, and techniques to care for yourself. You’ll need to consult professionals and learn from former players if you don’t want your career cut short.
Join a College Team or local beach volleyball club
The simplest way to put yourself on the map is to join a college team. A lot of players transition from indoor volleyball to beach volleyball over time as there is a big overlap between the two. Once you are great at indoor volleyball, it will only take you a few weeks to get going in beach volleyball. Being part of a team opens you to lots of opportunities, such as going overseas and playing in tournaments. It’s the first step towards making a network of professionals in the career you want to have.
Befriend coaches, players, journalists, and use them for references later on. In this way, you can also find a potential partner to play with. A lot of beach volleyball players struggle for years to find someone that is compatible with their playing style. You might have to try a lot of combinations before you find someone that matches your approach to the game.
The biggest advantage of competitions is that they’re sponsored by organizations who will pay for your food and board, among other things. These organizations give you a chance to make millions of dollars if you have the skills to back yourself up. However, it’s not easy traveling to another country for a game as beginners don’t make a lot of money.
Being in an unfamiliar country can be stressful. You need to be ready to indulge in new cultures and have an open mind if you want to be a professional.
Contact Other Players
Reach out to every person you know that has played overseas. They might have an agent or manager that you can speak with. Ask them if their team is complete and if they’re looking for new talent. This is a surprisingly effective technique.
Lots of agencies don’t have the best budgets when it comes to scouting for new talent. So when you get in contact with them, you’re doing their job for them and they might be overjoyed at your ability to take initiative.
Word of mouth is commonly ignored because it’s not reliable. But it’s a powerful tool. It works.
This will also give you a feel for the level that you are playing at. A lot of players don’t want to work gradually and enter competitions above their level and lose badly. This is bad for their motivation and it is better to make sure that you rank correctly and build things up over time.
Once you’ve built up a good track record, you want to start scouting for an agent. It’s not mandatory to have an agent, but it definitely helps. Reach out to existing players and ask them for their agents. Send out lots of emails.
You might not get many responses, but that’s normal and in no way reflects poorly on yourself. It’s just part of the game. Make sure you wade through the shady ones and try to find the honest ones. A bad agent can ruin your life, never mind your career. Ask for good referrals and recommendations to get started.
Promote Your CV
As a final step, you want to create a good CV for yourself. One with all your accomplishments, highlights, and awards. Then find your best games on video and create a highlight reel of sorts. This will let prospective coaches see you in action. Many coaches prefer to see players on the field to understand their style, their behavior, and personality before they accept you into their team.
Don’t have a promo video? Simply get family or friends to record you while you train. Get an editor — a good one — and have them create a proper highlight video for yourself. Showing off during some spectacular rallies can convince a lot of sponsors.
This video should basically be like an action movie trailer of yourself and doesn’t need to be more than 10 minutes in length. Talk about your experience as a player, your experiences, your awards, and your strengths. Upload it on a free platform like YouTube or Vimeo and share the link with prospects.
Have a Love For The Game
It takes 10,000 hours to master any skill. That means training at least 3 hours a day, 20 hours a week for 10 years. And it still might not be enough. You’ll face down angry coaches and screaming teammates in your career.
You need to be able to power through the negativity and push through.
You need the sort of belief that you can move mountains.
Give 110% at every game you play in. You never know who could be watching.
It could be your lucky break.