Youth Volleyball – Is there such thing as too much?

Posted on 19 May 2009 by Chuck Rey

Hi Coach Rey,

I am grateful we have people like you out there to give parents and players great advice about volleyball.

My daughter just turn 11 and started with club last season in a 12U team. Since she started young she has another season with the 12U team. I am surrounded with parents who spends thousand of dollars for private trainings in addition to the club training.

We have a long term goal for our daughter and do not want to burn her out at this young age. Her season ended on 5/3 and she has this whole month off. Her club coach is starting summer skills training for 10 weeks with 2 hours of training on Sundays. They will play on Thursday nights at a local recreation center for some court time.

My question to you is if that enough for a 11 year old? There is a top club offering position clinics on Monday morning during the summer. I was going to sign her up but afraid of burning her out.

What is your thought on that? I appreciate your time.

volleyball baby 300x204 Youth Volleyball   Is there such thing as too much? volleyballThis is a difficult question to answer because I don’t think there is a right answer. I think it is dependent on the individual child. Coincidentally, I happened to watch a special the other night on the Discovery Channel about child prodigies (I am not implying your child is a volleyball prodigy, just offering perspective).  One of the children is a 12 year old artist, Akiane, who, at times, spends 12 hours a day painting. There was also a 10 year old boy who was a musician. He also spends hours a day on his piano. Here’s a website of the Top 10 Child Prodigies,  Tiger Woods, Mozart, Pablo Picasso to name a few. I am certain all these prodigies spent ridiculous hours as children perfecting their craft. We commoners look at them as “greats”.  Are they really great or are they not well rounded and socially dysfunctional?

If a child wants to play, for whatever length of time, why stop them? If Tiger or Mozart or Picasso’s parents stopped them, would we know them today? Einstein was a terrible student; he was bored in class all day. He needed to be free. I think it is about the desire of the child.

I loved skateboarding as a child. I’d skate to school, skate home, and all day thereafter. My parents didn’t stop me. By the time I was 14, I outgrew skateboarding – I didn’t “burn-out” – just outgrew it (although my long-board may tell you otherwise ;). My attention turned to volleyball. I ‘dove’ into volleyball passionately, just as I did skateboarding, and the sport has been a part of my life every since.

What scares me is your statement, “We have a long term goal for our daughter…”. Who is we? You and your husband? Guess what, your long term goal may not be your daughter’s long term goal. My father owns a successful business. I was groomed to be in the business from birth, I’m a “Jr.” in fact. I graduated college, charged into the business world, and was not happy for many years. That was his world, his plan, his long term goal for me. I hung-up the business suit 5 years ago to coach. Volleyball is my passion, my world. I couldn’t be happier.

misty may olympics 300x203 Youth Volleyball   Is there such thing as too much? volleyballI understand you want the best for your daughter. I can only offer insight. I know Misty May spent her youth growing up on the beach watching her parents play volleyball, then she got to play with them. She’s done OK for herself icon wink Youth Volleyball   Is there such thing as too much? volleyball Chrissie Zartmann was the same way. These kids have an advantage because they grow up around the game, it wasn’t a choice, it was a way of life. At the University of Minnesota Camp last year, we had a 9 year old girl that was a firecracker. She ruled the court. She loves the game and her mother couldn’t get her involved in enough volleyball activities because that is what her daughter wanted. Will she burn-out, maybe? Will she outgrow the sport, possibly? But what’s the big deal if she does? I’m glad I outgrew skateboarding. I found my passion.

My greatest dislike about sports culture for youth today is the structure (it’s not just volleyball). I dislike kids HAVING to go to practice. I wish kids would go out afoluke akinradewo 193x300 Youth Volleyball   Is there such thing as too much? volleyballnd play on their own. USA Volleyball’s coaching philosophy is Play the Game to Teach the Game. The kids just need to play for fun without parents, without coaches, without practice, without a start time, and the end time is when the dinner bell rings. Your daughter comes home late because the game wouldn’t end. She lost the best game she ever played that finally ended with the score 47 – 45. Ultimately, she won.

Because of the structure of our sport, if they don’t play, do they fall behind? I don’t know. Foluke Akinradewo, Stanford All American, never played club volleyball. She is also a great athlete. It is my belief that those who are around the game the longest, have the best ball control. Passing is a very un-natural skill and reading the trajectory of a volleyball takes experience. This is partly why Misty May and Chrissie Zartmann are great.

I think the best answer is to listen to your daughter, continue to ask questions, and use your best judgment.

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18 Comments For This Post

  1. Larry M. Says:

    Coach Rey,
    I totally agree with you about kids today having everything structured – play, practice, etc. Showing my age here and I don’t want to sound like things were always better in my day but I don’t know if kids today know how to play pick up games. Some of my best memories as a child were the pick-up baseball, football, and boot hockey games we had in the neighborhood. I don’t see that as much anymore. And not just because of the kids. It seems like you need to reserve in advance field and court times. I think kids would be better off if we would, at times, just throw the ball out and tell them “pick your teams and go at it by yourselves.”

  2. Larry M. Says:

    Coach Rey,
    I totally agree with you about kids today having everything structured – play, practice, etc. Showing my age here and I don’t want to sound like things were always better in my day but I don’t know if kids today know how to play pick up games. Some of my best memories as a child were the pick-up baseball, football, and boot hockey games we had in the neighborhood. I don’t see that as much anymore. And not just because of the kids. It seems like you need to reserve in advance field and court times. I think kids would be better off if we would, at times, just throw the ball out and tell them “pick your teams and go at it by yourselves.”

  3. Jim Says:

    As parents make more money they spend more on their children, nothing wrong with that but it seems like parents enjoy telling others their kids are in everything.

    About pick-up games, nowadays kids are robbed of that freedom because of security reasons and child molesters out there. I agree about letting them play with their friends without strict rules and practices.

    I just make sure I ask my kids what they like to do without over scheduling them.

  4. Jim Says:

    As parents make more money they spend more on their children, nothing wrong with that but it seems like parents enjoy telling others their kids are in everything.

    About pick-up games, nowadays kids are robbed of that freedom because of security reasons and child molesters out there. I agree about letting them play with their friends without strict rules and practices.

    I just make sure I ask my kids what they like to do without over scheduling them.

  5. Chuck Rey Says:

    @Jim – its a shame kids can’t be kids anymore.

    John Kessel wrote a similar piece on his blog: http://usavolleyball.org/blog/post/796 I highly recommend it.

  6. Chuck Rey Says:

    @Jim – its a shame kids can’t be kids anymore.

    John Kessel wrote a similar piece on his blog: http://usavolleyball.org/blog/post/796 I highly recommend it.

  7. Chuck Rey Says:

    @Jim – its a shame kids can’t be kids anymore.

    John Kessel wrote a similar piece on his blog: http://usavolleyball.org/blog/post/796 I highly recommend it.

  8. Chuck Rey Says:

    @Jim – its a shame kids can’t be kids anymore.

    John Kessel wrote a similar piece on his blog: http://usavolleyball.org/blog/post/796 I highly recommend it.

  9. Ashley Riley Says:

    I understand your passion for volleyball. I myself wanted to play soccer, but when I played volleyball in high school, it was unlike any other sport for me. It was so fun and just different. I really want to play professionally in college, but I dont know if I will be able to. But yeah, when friends and I just go out and play by ourselves, we learn so much from each other in a stress-free environment. However, we still need coaches.

  10. Ashley Riley Says:

    I understand your passion for volleyball. I myself wanted to play soccer, but when I played volleyball in high school, it was unlike any other sport for me. It was so fun and just different. I really want to play professionally in college, but I dont know if I will be able to. But yeah, when friends and I just go out and play by ourselves, we learn so much from each other in a stress-free environment. However, we still need coaches.

  11. Ashley Riley Says:

    And I love Akinradewo, she’s my favorite women’s volleyball player!!!

  12. Ashley Riley Says:

    And I love Akinradewo, she’s my favorite women’s volleyball player!!!

  13. sand volleyball Says:

    I agree completely about just playing for fun without a coach. I learned to play volleyball without any coaching (it helped that the guys I learned to play with were collegiate players and one just won the AVP tournament 2 weeks ago-Casey Patterson) But I think if you love the game you will practice and get better on your own and enjoy doing it. Great site by the way.

  14. sand volleyball Says:

    I agree completely about just playing for fun without a coach. I learned to play volleyball without any coaching (it helped that the guys I learned to play with were collegiate players and one just won the AVP tournament 2 weeks ago-Casey Patterson) But I think if you love the game you will practice and get better on your own and enjoy doing it. Great site by the way.

  15. Jackie Says:

    Hi Coach,

    At what age is not too early to attend a college volleyball camp? It seems like everyone has a private coach during the season and now they are all signing up to go to top D1 summer camps. These kids are only in middle school, isn’t that a little bit too young?

  16. Chuck Rey Says:

    Hi Jackie,

    Unfortunately, that is a difficult question for a coach to answer, as there are many variables. Sending kids to summer camp should be at the discretion of parents. Here are some thoughts on summer camps though: http://coachrey.com/blog/volleyball-camp-how-to-choose-best-camp/

  17. Alex Says:

    Hi. My daughter really wants to start volleyball and talks about it all the time. She is nine years old and our school doesn’t start anything for girls until 7th gade. Do you know of a local MN place/establishment that has skill building clinics for her age group. I would like to do this for her.

    Thank You.

  18. Chuck Rey Says:

    Hi Alex,

    Have you checked with your local juniors volleyball clubs, like Minnesota Select, Minnesota One, and or Northern Lights? I assume they have these types of programs and if not, could direct you to one in your area. Volleyball is big in Minnesooooota!

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Coach Chuck Rey is Assistant Coach at Miami University


Prior to this position, he was Assistant Coach at Winthrop University, the University of Minnesota and Georgia Southern University.

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