Posted On: 08/7/19 3:39 PM

The first day of high school practice is approaching quickly in Prep Dig states and for some the term “tryout” and getting “cut” is something that no coaching staff thoroughly enjoys.  We recently conducted Twitter polls on our Prep Dig accounts for Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and all three states had very different results, with Iowa being extremely reverse of what Minnesota and Wisconsin have in regards to tryouts and making cuts. 

The Tryout Process

The tryout process is a little bit different everywhere you go.  For some programs, the decisions are starting to be made throughout the summer through weights/conditioning, summer leagues, open gyms, and summer camps (Although I have heard some programs in various states having their tryouts for high school at the end of the school year).  Coaches are trying to find the best possible team, which doesn’t always mean the fifteen best players (which sounds strange, but even at the national team level they are having the same philosophy). 

At some of the larger schools there could be 50 athletes trying out for the Freshmen team that will take possibly 15 total athletes, others may carry two Freshmen teams, but still there are going to be athletes that will not make the team.  Some schools hold a normal practice, others may have a scoring system, a rubric of various skills – others post a list of who made the team and others have an individual meeting on whether or not they have made the team and what their role will be or just be direct and say, “I’m sorry, you did not make the team”.  Again, for most coaches during the couple days of tryouts are probably the most stressed having to let athletes down and feel the wrath of potential parent phone calls following the decisions.

What About Cutting At The Varsity Level? 

What culture does the program have?  How are athletes able to buy into their role on the team, and really commit to that role?  Although it may not be welcome at the time or not always the words they want to hear at that point, but at the end of the day athletes appreciate honesty, they want to know where they stand.  To tell an athlete they are fighting for a spot when in reality they aren’t can really send mixed messages. The teams that find success, have fun, and really form a deep team chemistry are able to be honest about their roles and what everyone can do to make the team better.  I do believe it’s possible for a team to carry over 15 on a roster if the expectations and culture of the program is strong and everyone is on the same page. That’s always a strong “IF”, 

Why Can’t Everyone Play? 

There are various factors, but for the most part, volleyball programs want to give their athletes the best possible experience.  If there are 30 athletes on the Freshman team with one, maybe two coaches is that really the best possible experience for athletes and coaches?  At most schools gym space is limited, especially for some Wisconsin programs who have boys volleyball at the same time. When it comes to matches, athletes want a chance to get on the court, the larger the team, the less likely to get athletes playing time.   If there are more teams at the younger levels, that always requires more gym space, more officials, and with how some budgets are heading that simply isn’t financially possible.  

So Why Would Iowa Not Cut When It Comes To Tryouts? 

Across the state of Iowa, as a whole high schools are much smaller, there just may not be the participation numbers in comparison to some of the larger schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Don’t get me wrong, volleyball is extremely popular across the state, but when it comes to the bigger schools out of metro areas there just aren’t as many as what you will find out of the Twin Cities, Madison Area, Milwaukee, and the Fox Valley (Appleton to Green Bay).  Another factor in Iowa and Minnesota there is no competition for gym space in the Fall. Wisconsin has gym space to split with boys volleyball (which is great!) and it won’t be long before Minnesota runs into that as well (fingers crossed).