Something new and different can be very scary. Even if you are an average, well-adjusted adult.

Now, think about having to embark on a brand-new experience and being a pre-teen or teenage girl or boy. It is frightening, maybe even downright terrifying. This becomes a reality for some as they begin their journey into club volleyball. So, what are you to do as a new “club parent” trying to help your child to manage this situation?

At the Badger Region’s most recent club open house, I was lucky enough to spend some time in the Region’s booth. We fielded questions from parents and players of all ages and experience levels regarding many different topics. During this time, a few of things regarding how people handle and look at club volleyball tryouts became very clear, so I wanted to help those coming at this for the first time as much as possible.

The first thing I would say to everyone is to have an open mind. There are a lot of things you hear about club volleyball and club sports in general, both positive and negative. Some of them are true, but there are also things that really get blown up and exaggerated.

Everyone’s experience is different, and if you approach the process with and open mind and are ready to listen and learn, that will go a long way in creating a positive experience for your daughter or son.

Now that you have that open mindset, you will need to create a plan for yourself. Even if you do not know anything about club volleyball, you do know yourself, your family and your child. Put together an outline about what you might be looking for or interested in. There are a number of components that go into playing a club sport:

  • How much time do you have available?
  • Is your child involved in other activities – sports, school, community, church or otherwise?
  • How long of season do you want to play?
  • How much, if any, traveling do you want to do with the team?
  • Is the practice time and location important to you?
  • What budget considerations do you have regarding club fees?

These all might change along the way. However, if you can sketch out what you’re looking for together first, the experience for you, your family and most importantly your child will be much more positive.

The next step I would encourage everyone to take would be to do some research. Clubs promote their programs in several different ways. There is information available on their websites and social media accounts. Clubs also will have tune-ups and open gyms prior to tryouts. These are a great way for people to find out about the club; players and parents can get a feel for what a certain club is like in the gym and ask questions of directors and coaches in attendance. The Badger Region website has information and links to clubs all around the state, as do the nation’s other 39 Regions. The Badger Region also hosts several open houses in the fall leading up to tryouts to help clubs share information. This research allows you to find out all sorts of information about clubs, the programs they offer, their facilities, coaches, philosophies, rules, uniforms, apparel and more.

Finding the right club can be a tough process, and we haven’t even talked about play on the volleyball court. That part is something you can help your child prepare for physically and mentally, but these suggestions are crucial work you can do prior to tryouts. If you keep an open mind, intentionally consider what you’re looking for, and research the club options you have, it can go a long way to finding the best fit for you and your family. That is the ultimate goal: to have the best experience possible and want to come back year after year.

Josh Price is the Director of Operations and Finance at Wisconsin Juniors in southeast Wisconsin. In 2018, he was elected as an At-Large Representative to the Badger Region Board of Directors. He originally wrote this piece for The Badger Beacon, the Badger Region’s newsletter.