Along with a good pair of eyes, coaches need a fair amount of equipment to run an efficient, effective tryout. Here’s a checklist of stuff you’ll want to have at the ready when evaluating players for a high school, college or club roster:
1. A tryout plan. You should have both an athlete check-in plan and a detailed overview of what you want to accomplish with players: specific skills, hustle drills, team situations, physical testing, etc. This should also include what your staff will be doing during the tryouts. Some coaches should run drills, others should evaluate. Don’t have them do both.
2. A tryout evaluation form or a printed list of players for coaches to take notes on.
3. Clipboards for all coaches who will be evaluating athletes and taking notes.
4. Pens and pencils.
5. Name tags or identifying T-shirts for all athletes trying out.
6. Camera (or phone) if you want to take a picture of each athlete with their name tag/numbered shirt.
7. Video camera (or phone) for capturing 6 vs. 6 drills and scrimmages. Getting film serves a dual purpose. It gives you and your coaches a chance to take a second look at bubble players. (You may very well notice something later on that you didn’t see in the gym.) Also, if a player or parent complains about being cut, it’s nice to have some data to back up your decision.
8. Video of model skills. Having film in the gym allows you to show players what skills are supposed to look like. This reduces the chance that they won’t understand what you’re looking for.
9. Clock/timer/phone for keeping track of tryout session duration.
10. Volleyballs and ball carts. You’ll need a minimum of one volleyball per tryout player, or 15 to 20 per court.
11. Physical testing equipment. Measuring devices for your physical testing (height, reach, jump, speed). A tool worth considering is the wearable jump-measuring device made by VERT. It’s used by the U.S. women’s national team as well as many top college volleyball programs.
12. Whistle to signal when athletes should change tryout stations. An electronic whistle is a great alternative to the standard whistle if coaches will be sharing.
13. Water for athletes and coaches.
14. Parent meeting outline. It’s good to have a printed version of key points you’ll want to cover in a parent meeting. It should include an explanation of the tryout format and criteria for selection as well as other important information – like fees.
15. Handout to give to athletes and parents that includes information like how tryout results will be posted, team costs, payment options, potential schedule, team guidelines, etc. You may have reviewed some of this in the meeting, but it’s a good idea to reinforce it with a printed handout.