Tryouts are stressful.
You have to battle it out amongst many girls for a few spots that are available on a team. With just a few days to show off your skill and physical ability, how do you prove to coaches, or scouts that you deserve a spot on that roster? And how do you stand out? Let’s face it, tryouts in sports are basically like job interviews, you have to sell the best version of yourself and prove your worth.
I consider myself very lucky that I have made all of the teams in which I have tried out for. I also feel greatly for those that haven’t been in my position, it’s hard to handle the mental challenges that arise from being cut from a team. I feel for the coaches that have to make these decisions, but that’s just part of the sport we play and at the end of the day we have to respect the decisions that are made and be thankful for the opportunities that come. And realize that if you are cut from a team one year that doesn't mean that there will be no more future opportunities, work hard for the next one!
My first tryout with the senior national team was back in 2011. There was something like 40-50 girls in the gym as there were positions available for two teams. The ‘A’ team which would represent Canada at all of the major international tournaments during the summer, and the ‘B’ team which would represent Canada at the FISU Games in Shenzhen, China.
Now, most people have often described me as being very calm and cool on the court because usually I am very sure of myself as a player. Never too high, or too low it’s hard to see my emotions because I keep myself in check.
Well, those tryouts were the first time I was anything but. There were girls that I had played with previously at UBC, like Liz Cordonier, Kyla Richey, Jen Hinze, and Marisa Field. They were beyond reassuring, and it was so nice to have their guidance. But, there was some serious studs and fire power in that gym. Tammy Mahon (Captain at the time), Carla Bradstock, Tasha Holness, Tiffany Dodds, Brittney Page just to name a few. I have never felt so short, or so unsure as a player before.
It took a lot of confidence to head into the gym everyday for tryouts with the mindset that I was exactly where I was meant to be. It also took a lot of praying to the volleyball gods that my legs would remain in tact over the course of the week after jumping thousands of times. After day one your exhausted, day two you wake up with shaky legs and by day three you can hardly squat down to sit on the toilet. I digress.
Tryouts aren’t the time to be perfect, but they are the time to show the best version of yourself in the sport. What I find interesting about tryouts are how the different elements can play to the strengths of any player whether it’s fitness, skill, power, leadership, coach-ability, there’s plenty of opportunities for different people to shine.
Without further adieux i present you with my guide to surviving tryouts.
Experience means nothing.
Okay, maybe not nothing since experience helps with your overall confidence. What I really mean is that whether you are a veteran to the team, or you are trying out for a team for the first time it doesn’t matter. You have to learn to perform during tryouts to earn your spot and prove that you deserve to be there. If you’re in your first or second year of University/college/club don’t be intimidated by the “big dogs”. They are around to guide you, to show you how it’s done, but at the end of the day they are also in the same boat as you so don’t fret. Let their experience motivate you to get better. And if you are experienced demonstrate the level that you want others to rise to for not just tryouts, but for the season. Take the opportunity to make those around you better!
If you want to make a particular team weather it’s your school team, club team, or national team, prove your commitment to the sport. Coaches and staff will be investing a lot of time, effort and resources into those that make the team, so show them you are professional enough to be considered among those selected. That means no joking off, being attentive to any and all feedback, and showing initiative in your pre and post practice care by stretching, doing a proper warm up and cool down and fuelling up at the right times. That sounds boring, but for as fun as athletics are they should be taken seriously every now and then to show your dedication.
Give your best effort
This kind of goes without saying, but no slacking at tryouts allowed. Physical testing? Give 100% Skill testing? Give 100% Game play? 100%
But what might help you the most if you are going through multi-day tryouts is dedicating 150% of your effort in sleeping. I’m talking naps, 10 hours of sleep every night that will become your best friend.
Jokes aside, in everything you do you should be putting your best foot forward. Attitude is everything here, so go into every practice with nothing short of a smile on your face. I want to see high fives flying, celebrations, encouragement, and an eagerness to learn.
If you don’t understand something like how a drill works, or maybe you are unsure about the schedule ASK! As a veteran nothing is more frustrating than when you begin a drill and you can sense uncertainty in a player and everything breaks down. Don’t be afraid to ask questions before a drill starts so that you can keep things running smoothly giving everyone a chance to show their skill. Also, don’t be that girl that shows up late because you were unclear about the schedule - who knows you may have to do like touch 30.
But most of all HAVE FUN
Like I said before, tryouts can be nerve racking and stressful, but think about how amazing the opportunity is right in front of you. You’ve made it this far, why not just have fun with it.