The AVCA clearly shows that the youth volleyball market is evolving in 2018.
After last year’s record breaking AVCA Convention in Columbus, Ohio, it was going to be tough for the 2017 event to stage an impressive encore. Two days after this year’s event, and we’re left wondering how the 2018 convention could possibly live up to this year’s in Kansas City.
For the second year in a row, the LeagueApps volleyball team attended the annual AVCA Convention. This is the sport’s premier event for volleyball coaches, players, and fans. However, over the last few years, it’s become an amazing source of information for club directors and admins.
With so much going on in just three days- including being paired with the NCAA Final Four and (almost) hometown darling Nebraska taking home the ‘ship- it’s easy to have missed some things. So, we’re giving you some of the key trends from this year’s event. Or, if you missed the convention altogether, we’ve got you covered.
Here are 4 key trends you may have missed from this year’s convention.
1) Beach and boys programs will be a larger focus in 2018
It was clear that a main focus of this year’s event would be around beach programs even before the convention started. The educational programs and seminars included several opportunities to learn more about beach volleyball. Olympic Gold Medal winning coach Marcio Sicoli presented 10 hours of high performance beach training.
Growing boys participation is also a main focus for several clubs. After a few seasons of slowed growth, participation growth in boys volleyball at the high school level accelerated again in 2017. According to the NFHS, the governing body for the vast majority of high school sports, over the last 5 years, participation in the sport has grown by 15.7%.
Susan Roberson, Director of the Texas Pistols, says this is a top priority for 2018.
“We are going to start adding boys [programs] in the fall. There seems to be a growing interest in the boys, which is great.”
— LeagueApps (@leagueapps) December 16, 2017
2) Clubs are networking to address growth and scaling
The AVCA has done a tremendous job of connecting volleyball leaders from volleyball leaders across the country with one goal in mind: to learn and grow the sport. As a result, clubs are facing new challenges as they deal scale their business and expand.
Carolina Union, for example, has grown from 37 teams to nearly 50 boys and girls teams serving three separate locations in just over a year. That kind of growth creates new challenges at the organizational level.
It seems the AVCA has taken notice. This year’s educational programs included more seminars around sustaining growth and accountability, two challenges that clubs are seeing more and more as they scale. Susan found the educational programs meaningful.
“It was my first time attending AVCA and found it very valuable. The seminars were informative and many touched on topics that were of interest to the Pistols as we grow in 2018,” she said. “Networking was huge.”
Many sessions focused on organizational development. Terms like “managing up,” “fundraising,” and “accountability” are discussed openly. Outside of seminars, ideas and best practices are routinely shared between coaches, directors, and club administrators.
Volleyball has an interesting community that allows coaches and directors from all aspects of youth volleyball to come together and learn more. This doesn’t seem like it could happen so easily in other sports, and it’s exciting to be a part of.
3) Wearables and sports technologies are now standard practice
Technology was evident everywhere at last year’s convention. In 2018, it’s clear that it’s a necessity to effectively manage and run a club. Sports Recruits has a large presence in the volleyball community and had a team on site to further enhance the club recruiting experience.
Vert is a wearable that captures vertical height data from players even during games. This can really help out the player or players in your club that are having trouble reaching their vertical goals during testing, even though they can get higher during games.
Between Vert and Sports Recruits, to other performance techs like Hudl, the sport has increasingly evolved to become more data-centric and accountable to the player and parent experience.
4) More female athletes are choosing volleyball over basketball for various reasons
Female high school athletes are flocking to participate in volleyball more than basketball than ever before. Everyone involved with the sport is pretty aware of this trend. However, there are different ideas and reasons behind why this is happening.
One theory is the idea that there just aren’t as many female role models in basketball as there are in volleyball. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings have been household names for years. Younger players like Destinee Hooker and Rachel Schwartz have recently entered the stage.
But, it could be as something as simple as personal preference. Though not technically a contact sport, basketball athletes, particularly taller female athletes, typically experience a lot of contact during games.
“I have two daughters that played both [basketball and volleyball], but they only play volleyball now,” Susan said. “One big reason, I believe, is the fact that the club season is the same time as the school basketball [season]. It’s very hard for the athlete to do both and be A+ students. I think they choose club volleyball over club basketball because they like volleyball better. It’s less of a contact sport.”
Do you have any key trends or takeaways from AVCA? Comment below, or write Nick!
Nick is the Director of Volleyball Partnerships for LeagueApps. He has helped dozens of volleyball clubs across the country, including K2 Volleyball, Buckeye Volleyball, and Delaware Juniors, among others. He loves to talk about volleyball and how club leaders can maximize efficiency of their day-to-day operations. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s a wrap! The #AVCAConvention is certainly a unique event, with volleyball coaches from around the globe envious of the type of community we have. That’s only possible because of YOU. So recharge the battery, and we’ll cya back on the court!
— AVCA (@AVCAVolleyball) December 17, 2017