Be Honest - Be Honest - Be Honest. Your enemy is rumor of politics, and
your enemy is lack of honesty from trying to be kind.
1. Send a copy of your posting here to all participants in your lower
level groups - 9, B , JV - this spring. Leave out the part asking for
suggestions and tell them the number of player spots available on each
team next fall. A self-regulating cut will happen - many of those girls
who probably won't make it or don't want to risk the embarrasment of the
cut or have better things to do will not try out, leaving you only a few
to cut in the fall.
2. Don't use the cut-threat to improve "your team" by coercing marginal
players into summer leagues --because that practice applied to chldren is
so morally repugnant to many (especially in your area) your reputation as
a person will suffer. If they want to play to play, fine. Don't have them
play winter-summer to make the team (even though THEY might do it).
3. If you get a large enough self-regulating cut so you may have only
four or five to cut for Varsity, offer the seniors "assistant" spots,
where they get to help at practice, etc., but no play uniform - they can
wear their team sweats, however - good school spirit. Using them for
actual practice is not usually a good idea - unless they are better than
your opposition or very close to those at the bottom of your regular team.
(The same reason winners play their top hitters against their top blockers
in skill work, and not against players who present no challenge to the top
players' skills.- team-play work being different, of course)
If you have six cut (or "not-varsity") seniors/juniors, you might
consider letting these assistants form ad hoc into a team against which
you scrimmage. You would have a ready team to play the lower six at
practice while you work with the upper six, or vice versa. They will form
up as a team within the overall effort but still be "outside competitive".
Depending on your situation, your coaching time may become more
4. Make a list of skills you can defend, to use in your cut process. Grade
each player on the skills, not on your "gut feel" (that comes later).
Avoid dumb skills like "big vertical" or "high block percentage" (big
vertical is not a volleyball skill; it is a gym skill - if they block or
hit the ball using a big vertical, only then is it a useful trait - if
they jump high and miss the ball a lot (fairly common), what good is it?;
high block percentage too often means they player chooses when to "get
there" or stands in the middle and blocks safe). If you have an objective
list of skills that are clearly tied to volleyball which you ostensibly
use to judge players, the parents and players are more accepting of those
objective measures than a subjective measure - and it keeps you honest.
Serve "life" and accuracy -- is it better to have a server who has a
wicked curve that causes the opposition to onl;y be able to pass it back
but she has an out about every seventh try, or a server that hits the wood
ten of ten with careful serves (or even rockets) that are handled for a
spike in your face every time?
Blocking attack - gets to the ball all across the net (avoid the
temptation of measuring how long she waits at the block location and thus
allows the opposition to adjust)
Blocking the ball- actually finds and blocks the ball
Blocking sense - confounds the opposition by her arrival and launch
timing, creating tips and poor hits
Hitting adjustment - can she adjust to a block in the air?
Hitting power effectiveness - does she get the ball to the wood
Hitting accuracy - does she put it in the seams, or is she a banger?
Hitting types - can she hit quicks, crosses, and high sets? or does she
bang just one kind?
Setting ability - really, does a high school cut setters? Does she
play team "with" the hitter, or is she an automon who always puts it
perfectly and predicatably in the same place? For non-setters, can she
set, and how much?
Setter court sense - read the opposition and the front line?
Passing efficiency- does she pass to the setter to help the setter,
does she recover bad passes, etc.
Overall play - tries for hard-to-get balls or has sense to let them go,
or covers the net, etc.
Durability - can she play a whole game, a whole season? bad ankles,
etc. careful on you judging a player's staying power- find a way to
measure it in a volleyball-like test. Some coaches have conditioning
tryouts as a pre-cut - timed mile and a half (although I never saw anyone
run steady for ten minutes in a game - volleys around here seldom reach
ten minutes) and overall vertical jump are popular.
5. Tell the cut player honestly where she is strong and where she is weak,
and what the team needed. It is always tough to cut players. Be honest
and tell the player you did the best job you could, and you tried to be
honest. Avoid the "I did it for the team" slogans - she's NOT part of the
team- that' what you're telling her. She doesn't want to hear " I cut you
for the good of the team".
If you can't be honest with the cut player, look to yourself to see if
you can make an honest appraisal, or if was a self-serving pretense.
A few other things to keep in mind - most of which you as a High School
coach probably already know-
Odds are they like each other more than you or volleyball.
They respect honesty and hate anyone who says something and doesn't do it.
If you can't be sure you can do something, don't tell the team what you
plan to do. Make the change or the call at the game, when it's needed.
If you tell something to one player, you could have just as well announced
it over the school loudspeaker.
Good luck -:) :-)