Club Volleyball

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Questions that apply Nationally:

What is the age of my daughter for the club season?
The age of a competitor in club volleyball is determined by the player's age on September 1st following the club season.  So, for example, if a player turns 16 on her birthday of August 1st, she will need to compete as a 16-year old in the club season even though she will only be 15 for the entire competitive season.  There are no age waivers and a team must play in the age bracket of its oldest player.

Why are there different match rules?
Club volleyball plays by the USAV rule set.  High School plays by the NFHS rule set.  Generally, the international federation (FIVB) will add some new volleyball rules.  After a year or two, USAV adopts the new rules.  About a year or two after that, the NCAA will also adopt the rules.  Several years after that, NFHS will reluctantly introduce the rules.  So, basically, the club rules are several years ahead of the high school rules.  Yes, this makes it difficult for all the athletes, coaches, referees and fans who have to go back and forth between rule sets.

What is the difference between USAV and AAU Club Volleyball?
USAV (www.usavolleyball.org) is the national governing body for volleyball and sponsors most club tournaments and clubs throughout the nation.  AAU (www.aausports.org) is a national governing body for many sports and also sponsors volleyball events.

No, really.  What is the difference between USAV and AAU volleyball?
Because Michigan’s high school season is in winter and the rest of the country has theirs in Fall, Michigan has traditionally run their own tournaments through AAU instead of the national volleyball organization, USAV. In other words, AAU is primarily local Michigan volleyball whereas USAV is national-level volleyball. USAV events are more expensive, but with that expense, you get quality paid referees for all matches and better planned tournaments. Local AAU tournaments, to keep expenses down, provide no referees and are typically still in the planning stages hours before the tournaments begin.
USAV tournaments are usually multiple-day events.  AAU are usually single-day events.
The level of play between the two is significantly different, and that is reflected by the college recruiter attendance. I do not know the exact numbers, but I would say that national USAV events can have 50 or so college recruiters from around the nation. Local AAU events may have one or two local colleges, usually none. The AAU State tournament, the biggest AAU tournament, will have most of the Michigan colleges -- but only at certain venues.  USAV qualifier events will have hundreds of college recruiters.
This is not to put down AAU tournaments. They fill a purpose that USAV does not. However, if a player has the ability to play with the best in the nation and wants to get a scholarship, she is at a disadvantage if she does not play USAV.

I've never played club volleyball before, what club should I play for?
Obviously, a pretty complicated question.  There are so many factors and only you can make that decision.  Here are some things to consider when shopping:

For more information on this question, please read this "Dodge Presents" Sports Illustrated Advertisement by Rick Wolfe

I play a spring sport, can I still play club volleyball?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: you need to ask this question specifically for your club and you need to find out your spring sport schedule so the club can answer your question.  You also need to understand whether your spring sport is willing to make concessions so that you can attend volleyball events, or whether the club volleyball team must make all the concessions.  In other words, if there is a conflict between your club volleyball event or practice and your spring sport event or practice, you will need to make a decision and you need to know what the coaches for both teams are willing to support.
Most clubs understand that better athletes will play spring sports.  However, the national-level teams will probably expect you to attend all events and practices -- taking priority over spring sports, while the local teams will generally understand that they will come second to the high school teams.
Most club practices are in the late evening specifically so that spring sport athletes can do both sports.  However, please also understand your own limitations both physically and scholastically.  Sure it sounds great in March, but how will you feel by May?

If I want to get a college scholarship, what should I do?
This is not a full answer by any stretch of the imagination, but here is some general information that I hope many find helpful.  I hope to add links with better information as this page grows, because this is going to be VERY limited at first:
First, as answered above, USAV club volleyball is pretty much the best way to go.  Remember that colleges have a limited recruiting budget, so the best bang for their buck is to send their recruiters to the events with the most numbers of talented and dedicated players -- that is the USAV events.  Particularly the national qualifiers and other national events.
The top colleges in the nation scout freshmen and sophomores in high school.  If you wait until freshman year to start playing national level volleyball, you are already behind for those types of schools, sad to say.  These would be schools in the Big Ten, Pac Ten, Big Twelve & SEC like Michigan & Michigan State.  These schools will pretty much have scholarships filled out before a player's junior year.  The other division 1 level colleges, MAC in particular (EMU, CMU & WMU), are about a year behind those colleges.  Division 2 like GLIAC (Northwood, GVSU, etc.) about a year behind them.

Michigan-specific questions:

Why are Michigan club teams less competitive than Illinois, Ohio & Indiana club teams?
Pretty simple answer: we are the only state to have a winter high school season and, therefore, a much shorter club season.  Our club season starts at the end of our high school season in late March.  Our teams typically cannot practice until that time.  Other states start their practices and organization at the end of their seasons in November.  It is not just the extra months of practice that help the other states, it is also the extra months of organization.  Similarly, this becomes cumulative -- a senior in Michigan has played a year+ less of competitive volleyball than her counterparts in other states.
If you play AAU Michigan events, you will not see the teams from other states, so this will not be an issue.  However, if you play multi-state USAV events, you will see this disadvantage on a regular basis.

Can I compete for my school team and my club team at the same time?
You cannot compete for a club team during your school season in the same sport, be it middle school or high school.  There is no state rule preventing you from practicing or trying out with a club team during the school same-sport season.  Some districts have rules or guidelines discouraging this practice, so be aware of your own district's guidelines.  Also, there are no state rules preventing you from competing for a club team while playing a different school sport.  Again, some specific schools have (extremely misguided, in my opinion) policies discouraging this as well.

I see a High School Coach coaching players from his team in the off-season, is this allowed?
Yes. A Coach is allowed to coach up to 3 players from their district. The following is my version of a simplified breakdown of this complicated rule.  Obviously, get with your District AD to get a more definitive ruling.  If you know better about this rule than me, please email me with any corrections.

No paid coach in a high school program can actively coach out of season in a facility in which more than 3 in-district kids are practicing. (my wording)

More questions or corrections?  Please email me, Alex Perrin at lxvball@comcast.net