Tuesday, 28 May 2024

You are Paying for Practice, Not Playing

Have you ever wondered why your child doesn’t get as much playing time as you expected when they joined a club? It’s a common concern among parents, especially when the team seems to be losing more often than winning. As a dad with over 50 years of coaching experience and college-level athlete kids, I’d like to share some observations and thoughts on this matter.

You Are Paying for Practice, Not Tournament Play

When your child is playing in tournaments, only one person is touching the ball while 23 others are watching, including opponents and substitutes. Tournaments are not where players truly improve their skills. In a typical tournament pool of four teams, if your child’s team doesn’t advance, they have only experienced about 2.5 hours of gameplay.

On the other hand, at practice, your child gets to touch the ball and participate in drills for about eight hours over two weeks before the next tournament. That amounts to three times the amount of learning-by-doing compared to tournaments.

Remember, playing time doesn’t directly translate into college scholarships. The key to success lies in hours of deliberate practice.

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Be Specific From the Start

It’s important for clubs to clearly communicate their mission, philosophy, and expectations to parents, players, and coaches alike. At the national level, the best players typically start and substitutions are made only for injuries or strategic reasons. At the local level, some clubs may follow equal playing time policies, while others base playing time on practice performance.

You Are Paying for More Than Skill Development

Being part of a club offers more than just skill development. It’s an opportunity for your child to develop leadership, teamwork, and resilience, both on and off the court. The memories they’ll cherish won’t be solely about playing time or wins and losses, but about the experiences, camaraderie, and personal growth they gain from being part of a team.

Your Child Will Be a Better Player if He/She Coaches Younger Players

Teaching others is a powerful learning experience. If your club allows it, encourage your child to mentor younger players. Coaching younger players helps your child improve their own skills and develop a deeper understanding of the game. It’s not just about playing time; it’s about learning time.

Sport is a Lifetime Option, Not Just a Season of Activity

By instilling a love for the game in your child, you’re giving them a gift of lifelong health and enjoyment. Sport is not limited to a single season or a specific age group. It’s a lifetime option that promotes physical activity and wellbeing. Did you know that USA Volleyball hosts national championships for players aged 79 and over? The love of the game is something you’re investing in.

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Can my child still excel in volleyball without getting a lot of playing time?

Absolutely! Playing time doesn’t determine the potential for success in volleyball. It’s the hours of deliberate practice and dedication that make a difference. By focusing on developing their skills, being a team player, and working hard during practice, your child can excel in the sport regardless of their playing time.

How can I support my child if they’re not getting as much playing time as they expected?

Encourage your child to stay positive and take advantage of the learning opportunities during practice. Remind them that playing time is earned and that their dedication and hard work will pay off in the long run. Help them focus on their own growth and development rather than solely on playing time or wins and losses.


In conclusion, being part of a club means more than just playing time. It’s about the practice, the learning, the personal growth, and the love for the game. Playing time is earned through hard work, dedication, and a team-first attitude. By focusing on the process and embracing the opportunities for improvement, your child can thrive in volleyball and in life. So, cheer them on, support their journey, and let them experience the full benefits of being part of a team.