The biggest change for the 2017 volleyball season can be found on the calendar. This year, the NSAA passed a new rule moving up the start of the volleyball season one full week, to coincide with the start of the football and softball seasons. Volleyball coaches are unsure about this change, as it is something they did not anticipate. The athletic directors in schools initiated the change rather than head volleyball coaches.
There were rumblings of many different opinions being shared about the early start rule at the NCA Nebraska Coaches Clinic on July 25-27. Coaches voiced concerns about burnout and injury of players earlier in the season, including Mike Brandon head coach at Gretna High School.
“Unfortunately, [the early start] might make the players more susceptible to physical and mental breakdowns,” he said.
Even though the extra week at the beginning of the season might make teams more prepared for their first match, it could potentially drag the season out.
“We will be more prepared for our first match, but I don’t know if that’s a positive or not,” Brandon said.
On the other hand, other coaches are using the extra week by hosting planning meetings, tryouts, and team building activities. Papillion High School head coach Kristen Lebeda-Svehla is using the week to her advantage even though she did not see a reason to start earlier.
“The athletes will get more touches, but most play all year round so they are actually losing one week of much needed rest on their bodies,” she said.
She also stated that Papillion is not full out practicing this week, but going through a try out process.
“We will have our meetings with players about rules and parent meetings. So it is not a wasted week, but one to get organized before school starts up,” Lebeda-Svehla said.
Both Brandon and Lebeda-Svehla mentioned the idea of moving the state volleyball tournament up a week. This will be a topic to consider moving forward into the fall. Any desired change to the current format of the volleyball season for the following year must be presented as a proposal to the NSAA in October, prior to the district meetings. Come October, coaches will have a better idea of how the early start affected their programs.
The impact of the additional week will be evident in all teams competing at the end of the season, in post-season competition, and in the Nebraska State Volleyball tournament in early November.
If teams come to the State tournament with minimal injuries and eager attitudes, then the change may be beneficial to continue to improve the level of volleyball in the state of Nebraska. If not, coaches could have to implement some changes to their programs by practicing less or lighter to keep the players engaged and healthy through the end of the season.