Preventing burn-out is not easy on the juniors volleyball circuit. There are a lot of underlying pressures to keep a girl playing. To prevent burn-out, your child’s volleyball goal must be identified (and this needs to be your child’s goal, not a parent’s wish for a child). Many children that play club have a goal to play in college. I believe there is a college out there for most of them, but it may not be the school or level of their choice. Furthermore, only about 5% of all juniors that play club volleyball will earn a scholarship and of those 5%, very few know their college destination in their junior year of high school. This means that if it is a goal to play in college, a player must be seen by a college coach, and unfortunately, they need to play club volleyball through their senior year to be seen.
For the lucky few that earned scholarships in their junior or senior year (many at Junior Nationals), they can take a different playing path if they choose (and are willing to take the public scrutiny). I believe it is best to play club volleyball their senior year, as the experience of simply seeing the ball will help the player prepare for college, but it is not necessary to continue on that elite, number one team of the club. Playing on a second or third team of a club enables a child less commitment, less pressure, and probably more fun. Practices will be less days a week and less away tournaments over the season. It will also give a player on the team your daughter usually played for that has not earned a scholarship more playing time and possibly earn a scholarship. The trade-off is that your daughter will likely have some friendship ‘shifts’ between teams and I assume other parents will look at the family differently. But what’s in your best interest?
Another option is for your child that has a scholarship to finish high school a semester early (in December) and enter college in January. Your child can play spring volleyball with the college team, acclimate to college academics on a less stressful schedule, and will be much better prepared in the fall, both athletically and academically. There are obvious trade-offs with this scenario as well – can we say senior prom?
Unfortunately, for those with the goal of playing in college, I’m not sure what more can be done. There could be rebellion within the parents of club teams to not play in May and June. It would have to be a coordinated and group effort. If enough clubs stop playing in May and June, there might be a chance (but unfortunately, many clubs are profit making entities, their interest is more volleyball). In addition, will other children that continue to play in May and June earn a college roster spot in place of your daughter?
Ironically, I started reading the classic novel Catch-22 on my way down to Miami. Club volleyball seems to be a Catch-22 in itself.