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.
This 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.
I 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 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 and 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.