Kendall Kipp | Outside Hitter at Stanford University
Anyone who has played both high school and club volleyball understands just how different they are. The transition from one to the other can often be difficult. You finish one season after spending months working hard with your team, then you go back to square one with a new team.
Although it always takes time to fully adjust to the change, the process can be made easier if you follow these guidelines:
1. Be adaptable
Every coach has a different style, and this can make it difficult at first when you’re transitioning into the club season. There might be one skill that you worked on throughout high school season that your club coach teaches completely differently. Being coachable takes practice. It’s a conscious decision to take the corrections your coaches give you and apply them on the court. But it pays off. If you commit to being coachable, you’ll find it a lot easier to make these adjustments.
2. Manage your time
Another thing you have to adapt to is a new schedule. When moving from high school to club season, my schedule completely changes. In high school season, I have lifting and practice every weekday unless we have matches, which are usually twice a week, and weekends off. In club season, however, I have practice two days during the week and two days on the weekend, lifting on days I don’t have practice, and tournaments on most weekends. This forces me to shift my schedule for homework, eating, sleeping and free time. Club also sometimes requires you to miss a day or two of school for travel tournaments, so it’s important to communicate with teachers and stay on top of your work.
3. Get to know your teammates
Coming off of high school season, you will be used to playing with girls who you know really well and know how to play with. But when you start practicing with a new club team you often have a lot of new teammates. It might be harder to play together at first when you don’t really know each other, but as you practice more you will become familiar with each others’ playing style. Besides just spending time together at practice, one way to get to know your teammates is by scheduling team-bonding outings. Whether it’s hanging out as a team at someone’s house or just getting food after practice, it’s important to build relationships with your teammates off the court.
4. Set goals for the season
Since the two seasons are back-to-back, it’s easy for them to blur together and start to feel long. One way to keep yourself energized is by setting goals for the season, personal or team. This will help you stay mindful and on track when you’re practicing. It will also help you avoid burnout. For me, goals are a huge motivating factor. I get excited because I want to do everything in my power to achieve those goals, and each practice becomes an opportunity to get closer.
5. Be prepared to work hard
The first month of club is one of the most important parts of the entire season. It’s where you establish the culture for your team, build the foundation and start defining roles. One of the best parts of the new season is that you have the opportunity to start fresh. If you were on the bench for your high school team, you get a new chance to earn your spot on the court. And if you started on your high school team, you have the chance to prove why you should continue to do so. If you work hard each day in practice, you’ll not only improve yourself as a player, but you’ll motivate your teammates to do the same. This will set you and your team up for a successful club season!
Kendall Kipp is an outside hitter at Stanford University. She played for Laguna Beach VBC and was a member of the 2016-17 U.S. Youth National Team.