Cosy's Corner: Coaches share tryout tips

Cosy Burnett is a top 2013 volleyball recruit from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. She plays outside hitter and opposite for La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego. She has competed in the California State Finals and at Nationals for the past five years. She recently committed to play for BYU. In the latest installment of her blog, she gets top coaches to share their tips for high school tryouts.

High school season is finally here!

I love high school volleyball because I feel like I am playing for something bigger than myself. Representing your school is amazing; it’s all about school pride and having fun competing. You get to play with your classmates and together compete in front of a home crowd full of cheering “Noise Boyz!” Your friends can actually watch you play without having to drive two hours.

Of course, we have to conquer tryouts, which is the most stressful part of the experience.

I interviewed three high school volleyball coaches from some of the top programs in the country to get their advice on how to prepare for the tryouts. All three programs have competitive tryouts with many girls vying for limited spots.

Here’s what they had to say:

Pat McDougall, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.)

What traits do you look for the most during tryouts?

We are looking for volleyball skills and physical talents. Height, speed and vertical jump are important for front-row players. Back-row players need to be quick and strong. In younger players we are interested in potential. In older players that potential needs to be realized. Attitude is very important. We want driven players who make their teammates better. It takes a combination of someone who plays volleyball because they love the sport and has the physical talent to excel. We're looking for players who respect authority and are easy to communicate with. We want girls who have the proper attitude to follow team rules and bring honor to the team and the school.

How do you decide between the last two girls for a team?

Attitude is generally the most important factor. The last girl picked is probably not a starter, so we need someone who will practice hard every day and morally support the team and be willing to help any way she can, even though she might not get much playing time.

What advice do you have for girls who want to stand out?

If you want to stand out at tryouts and you're not 6-foot-4 with a 30-inch jump, I suggest you hustle during every drill. Pay attention and be involved even if you're not the one being evaluated. Talk a lot during game speed drills and smile as much as you can. Girls who love to play are the most successful.

Jennifer Kazmierski, Lake Travis (Austin,Texas)

How many girls typically show up to tryouts and how many spots/teams do you offer?

We typically get about 65-70 girls to show up for tryouts. We carry four teams with roughly 12 per team.

What are the main things you look for?

Skill, attitude and being coachable are all great things. I also look at versatility, how they work with others, competitiveness, effort and passion for the game. It’s hard to rate the intangibles, but they are so vital to a team and a program’s success.

When you are down to the last two girls for a team, what is usually the deciding factor?

Versatility -- can they play more than one position? Attitude and effort, and skill or potential skill.

What advice do you have for girls who want to stand out at tryouts?

Set yourself apart by giving great effort, listen and be coachable, hustle everywhere, and prepare ahead of time by being in shape and volleyball ready. Know the skills and characteristics needed for your position and be willing to play anywhere the coach and team may need you.

Brennan Dean, Torrey Pines (San Diego, Calif.)

What are the main things you look for?

First, skill. We look for girls with the best skills and who can help a team win and earn points. Potential. If there is a girl who we believe we can train and can help the team throughout the season, we would want her. Also, attitude. We want girls who have good team chemistry, good morals and girls who other kids want to play with. Finally, good team players. Girls who think selflessly and focus on the team as a whole rather than only being concerned with themselves.

How do you choose between the last two girls?

Statistics. Numbers tell a story, and we may look at outside hitter efficiency, or with liberos serve receive. Attitude. Positive teammates are wanted teammates.

What advice do you have for girls who want to stand out at tryouts?

Don't come to tryouts rusty. Make sure to get in the gym with private coaching or camps before tryouts. That way you can be confident with all of your ball skills. You want to be noticed in the first day because by the time the last day of tryouts comes it might be too late. Wear something noticeable. Big headband. Bright shirt. It just helps to set you apart. Make sure to work hard and not only be friendly to the other girls but the coaches as well. Hellos and thank yous go a long way.

Good luck to everyone trying out for high school season!

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on the merits of college camps – here.