- Questions to ask when presented with an offer. This is the only time the leverage is with the player. After the initial elation of being given an offer, be sure to understand exactly what is being offered. All offers are not equal.
- Which team is the offer for? They will tell you an age, and a specific team. Many clubs have multiple teams at the same age group and have a distinct A team and B team. Teams may be color coded, but there is a clear #1 team. When presented with an offer, be sure to understand which team it is for.
- Is it possible to be moved up to the A team? Some girls really want to play on the A team but are offered a position on the B team. If she wants to play for the A team, make that known to the coach. With all the roster movement that takes place over the weeks while teams are being formed, sometimes it is possible that she can be moved up to the A team. Consider that a girl moving up to the A team may now be girl #11 on the A team instead of girl #1 on the B team.
- What position do you see my daughter playing? Coaches know, and some will not change their mind all year long.
- How many players will be on the team? It is not difficult to rotate in 8 girls during a game. Some coaches use a 9-girl rotation. A 10-girl rotation is possible, but not something that a coach will do when expecting to win tournaments. Above 10 girls on a team will have girls riding the bench. Understand how many girls are on the team, and where your daughter sits when evaluating the bid.
- Playing time. Do you foresee my daughter being in the starting lineup or getting significant playing time? While a coach may change the lineup as the season progresses, they should be able to tell you if they expect your daughter to play a significant role on the team, or if she is projected as a reserve player. If you receive an offer to be girl #10 on the A team, consider asking to be placed on the B team instead. Sometimes playing time is part of the club culture, and other times it is at the sole discretion of the coach.
- Where is the practice? What days/times?
- What is the time commitment that is expected? Some clubs require attendance at practice, conditioning, and positional practice, which could require 5+ days per week.
- How many tournaments? Are any overnight? Do they require flights? Days off school? Vacation days from work? Most 3 day tournaments are over school holidays, so ask how many of those holidays will you be playing.
- What is the philosophy for missing practice time? If you have a multi-sport player, or a girl that is involved in other activities, understand the consequence of missing time. Some clubs are more understanding than others.
- How well do you see your team playing? Are there good setters? Are there good passers? Tall girls?
- Will your team be playing in Open level tournaments or Club level tournaments? Remember, Open level tournaments are far more competitive. Any AAU tournaments? AAU tournaments may represent a chance for the team to win a tournament.
- Understand the coach’s philosophy. Does the coach plan on developing all players, or do they seem focused on winning medals? Ask the open-ended question and see how the coach responds. Is the coach open to changing his starting lineup after the season starts? The top teams in the club are expected to win, while the second team may be considered developmental. What are you looking for?
- What if we do not immediately receive an offer?
- Do not abandon all hope if you leave the tryout without receiving an offer. Not receiving a call on tryout day does not mean that you will not make a team. Some clubs will not make offers until all tryout days are happened. Also, remember, some girls receive multiple offers and cannot accept them all and when they turn down the offer spots will open on teams as players commit to other clubs.
- Do not take it personally! Your daughter’s best friend may receive an offer while your daughter does not. Sometimes the girl that receives an offer is a lesser player than your daughter. It happens. It is not fair. It stinks. However, do not allow yourself or your daughter to make it personally. Wait it out, and pick the club that is the best fit, even if they ‘did not want you’ first. Remember, it is a long season, and once you start playing, you will forget how stressful the offer process can be (until next year). Don’t make your daughter play for a lesser team because you are mad at a club for not receiving a first round offer.
- Be prepared for a few stressful weeks. Some girls do not receive an offer until the second or third wave of offers. Some girls do not receive offers at all.
- Go to the make-up tryouts. The make-up tryouts are a great way for the coaches to get a good look at girls that they overlooked at the first tryout. With 60+ girls at the first tryout, it is easy for a girl to go unnoticed, especially if the coaches do not already know them. If you do not receive an initial offer, and do not attend the make-up tryout, it may be assumed that you are not interested. Make-up tryouts are also a way for girls that accepted bids to meet their coach and team. Be sure to ASK the club director about make-up tryouts before you leave the gym. When are they and are they by invitation only?
- Tell the coach/club director that you are still looking for an offer. Crazy as this sounds, sometimes a coach will not give an offer to a player because they assume that player is not interested. If you do not attend the make-up tryout, and do not tell someone that you are still interested, chances are, you will not receive an offer. Communication with the club director and coach is key during this stressful time.
- Don't sabotage your child's chances for an offer. Club directors and coaches take the offer process very seriously. Sometimes it takes time. More time than you would like. Calling the club director or sending an email to reiterate your interest in the club and describe why your child would be a great fit is acceptable. However, calling the coach or club director to tell them why they are wrong to rate your child below another child will potentially cost you an offer. If you are forced to choose between 2 players that are rated close to each other, which one would you choose:
Dear Club director, I wanted to thank you for giving Little Susie the opportunity to try out for your club. We were very impressed with the coaches and the organization and would very much love the opportunity to be a part of your club. Susie would be willing to play any position necessary to earn a spot on your team and would work very hard to improve as a player if she was fortunate enough to be selected.
I don't understand! Little Susie was clearly the best player in the gym and has not received a phone call yet. Other parents around me were all saying how she was clearly better than Little Brianna, but she got an offer??? Little Susie is a star athlete, captain of her middle school gym class volleyball team, and a straight A student!!! You would be lucky to have her on your team. Please return one of the 13 voice mails that I left you between 6:00am and 7:15am this morning. This is not fair to Little Susie. She deserves to be the starting setter on the A team and is better than everyone else you selected.
P.S. If you do take her, I promise to constantly question why she is not playing full 6 rotation, and why she doesn't get to serve in every rotation.
Which child would you take? Sometimes a club will determine that they have the players, space, and coaches to offer another team AFTER the first tryout date. And if you sabotage your daughter you will regret it.
- What to do if you reject the offer?
- Unless you are signing a lifetime contract with a club, always follow the process for rejecting an offer.
- Most clubs will have a process in place for you to accept or reject an offer. Just because you choose a club that you feel is better for you and your child, it does not mean that you should simply ignore the other clubs that presented you with offers. They obviously see something they like in your child. Give them the respect of formally declining their offer. For extra bonus points, a short Thank You email to the coach and club director goes a long way. Ignoring the club once you have selected another club is a sure way to get your child ignored in the future. Trust me, clubs remember everything!
What if I do not receive any offers? Unfortunately, not all girls receive offers.
One option is for the girl to be a Practice Player.
Clubs will offer girls a chance to be a ‘practice player’. This position comes at a discounted rate but may come with the stipulation that the girl will not be able to play in tournaments. The player will still get the coaching and conditioning as the full team members. Practice players may choose to play a role on the team and attend tournaments. If you get this offer, be sure to ask what your daughter will receive in terms of training, coaching, uniform, etc. If your daughter chooses to be the practice