Ask Coach Houser: School Vs. Club

Coach Houser:

We needed a gym to have a few club volleyball practices in, so we called the athletic director at one of the girl's schools b/c we knew he had some free courts next week. Not only was he short with us, but even rude. He said, something like, "So many of our girls are already playing for you and are ditching their school sports, that we could barely field a basketball team this winter. Your club team's not stepping foot in our gym." What do you make of this? Is this normal?

When it comes to school sports vs. club sports, I have no clue what is normal.

But it's not uncommon for high school kids to have to make a decision: school sports and no club ball, or give up school sports.

One would think that an AD and principal of a school would want the kids to be happy more than worry about the glory of the school and/or the sports teams. I guess not.

If girls want to play school basketball, then they will. If they've changed the sports they like (kids do that you know!), if they don't like the coach, if they don't like the uniforms, if they don't like the gym, etc., then why expect them to play? Why not just let them go about their business?

And I've also never understood reaching into their personal time. My team has one rule that affects the girls' free time: We agree to a curfew on tournament nights. We agree to it. I don't mandate it. Why should I? Don't my girls want to play well? I've never had one team say, "Midnight. I'm not going to bed at 10:30!" How can I tell my players, who have their parents in tow, "You WILL be in bed by 10pm!"

We agree on a curfew, I tell them I expect them to abide by it. If they don't, if they appear whipped and tired the next day, then they don't play. That's why I have 12 girls on most teams. The competition helps keep everyone in line.

My philosophy: If a coach or ANYONE wants the kids to play a particular sport, then offer the kids and their parents a quality experience. Not a dribble & giggle experience. Not a bump & giggle, not a jog and giggle. If a quality experience is offered, then the kids will come. In fact, the kids will want to play the sport, and you'll have to cut. No convincing will be necessary.

One example: In 2001, Roanoke Juniors couldn't field teams after tryouts b/c not enough kids would show up. We'd have to recruit kids AFTER tryouts. Same in 2002. I remember telling the director, "Oh, well, guess we won't have a 14's team this year." But now, not only are there three times as many kids as we can take, but I'm now coaching for a different club that is florishing in the area that also fields a full load of teams. Why? B/c of quality, fun, travel, excitement, bonding, etc. Offer these things year after year, and kids will beat down your door!

If a school sport -- or any activity for that matter -- is nothing more than an alternative to being bored, then there are 20 other activities that'll solve boredom other than running up and down a bball court.

Coaches: If you want kids to play on your team, then be a special coach/person, offering special learning and growing experiences, offering safety, being prompt and dependable. Then you'll have the kids come to you b/c your reputation is what's recruiting the kids!

Tom Houser
Head Coach, 2010 Roanoke Juniors 16's National
JOVC Qualified-2006, 2009
Director, STAR Volleyball Camps
Author, "I Can't Wait" Drill Collection and Ebooks

Discuss This Article