Playing time is what every player wants and what every parent expects. The want and expectation of playing time is warranted when first starting recreational volleyball. The UPONTOP Recreational League addresses this issue by rotating players into the serving position and starts the 2nd and 3rd set where the previous set finished. Thus creating a fair situation for all players. This is what we refer to as "Fair playing time."
"Fair playing time" in volleyball is a great concept but it only works in the Recreational League where the goal is to initially introduce the basic rules and skills of Volleyball to the players. As the players progress in skill level they move past the Recreational League and into our Advanced League, Mini Club and eventually our Travel program called Club Volleyball. All the volleyball programs above the skill level of Recreational League use player substitution instead of rotating and therefore playing time is never equally distributed.
Why isn't playing time equally distributed after Recreational League?
When playing competitive volleyball the rules of the game prevent equal distribution of playing time. In the Recreational League we use the rotation system but that is only allowed in the Recreational League. In competitive Volleyball, the players sub for one another and are not allowed to sub for any other player other than the one they've already sub'd for. This decreases opportunities for playing time and as such, players now have to play/focus on certain roles for a team. These rules also impact the coaches strategy since players are locked into certain positions, the coach has to be certain when he puts in a sub as he can no longer use that same player for another player. Inevitably some players will receive more playing time than others. Most often it will be those players who show the most consistency and control with the ability to play all positions on the court.
Front-row player or back-row player, why can't I be both?
There are many different positions and roles each player may be asked to play. Understanding these roles and the demands of the position will help you get a better grasp as to why everyone cannot play every position, thus also affecting your child's playing time. For instance someone who can spike/hit but not pass will most likely only play in the front row and be taken out once they rotate to the back-row. Same goes for the player who can pass well but cannot spike or play front row well, they will regulated to playing back-row only and will be substituted for once they rotate to the front-row. In younger teams there are those few players who can play both front-row and back-row as they have the consistency and control to do so. As the players age, increase in skill and competition the chances of them playing both front row and back-row dramatically decreases. They will soon realize they need to specialize and focus their training and skill on one position to increase their odds of being one the best on their team to earn that playing time. It's simply the nature of the game.
Competition brings out the best
You've made it through the tryouts and you were selected to your team but that does not entitle you to playing time, it entitles you to practice time and the opportunity to compete for playing time. Our policy is, Playing time is earned and not given. During practice you will have the opportunity to compete and show you how much playing time you deserve. Competition is key and necessary as it brings out the best in players and does not allow them to be complacent. Competition makes you work harder, focus, want it more and also appreciate the opportunities when your hard work pays off. Throughout the season it is a constant competition among the team to showcase their skills and their consistency. Playing time can increase or decrease according to how well the players not only perform in practice but also how they perform at the tournaments. One thing to keep in mind is the more competitive your team gets the harder it is to get playing time.
So what can I do to make myself better so I can get more playing time?
In a word the answer is....Practice, practice, practice. The more your child has a volleyball in his or her hands and playing with that ball, the better they will be. There are many ball control drills they can do at home for all ages that will help with their consistency and control. As they get older they will develop the power needed so I suggest they focus on consistency and control first. Group classes (we call them skills classes) are a cost effective way to improve as well. The fastest and most effective way to improve your volleyball skills is through Private lessons. It's easy to spot those who have taken and are taking private lessons as those are the one's who are the most consistent and have the most control on their teams and they are also the one's who typically receive the most playing time. They have earned that playing time because they go above and beyond and put in the extra time and effort to improve their volleyball game.
If you are seeking more playing time on your volleyball team, it is within your grasp but you have to work hard, put forth true effort and earn that playing time. Nothing will be handed to you without first putting forth the time and effort. Each coach has their own philosophy as to when to make subs and how much playing time each player gets. Speak with your coach so you know what is required. Ask what you need to do to improve and then go do it. It will take time and the improvement will not be immediate so you have to be patient and diligent and keep working hard and you will be rewarded.