Give the Boys a Chance

June 02, 2014, 1:03 p.m. (ET)

I  simply would like to ask everyone reading this blog to share, as I am about to, their best practices, other sport successes and brainstorming thoughts on how to give boys 5-18 years old a chance to make volleyball their sport for a lifetime.

I spent the past week in Phoenix at our USAV Annual meetings that lead into the US Open – an event that included 3 men’s teams playing in the 79 and over age bracket. Those guys are playing day one -- a pool of three, day two – a pool of three again, and then we offered day three to have their finals be single elimination. You’d have thought we asked if they could not play the event…so day three was a double elimination for the three teams.

We also honored and interviewed the first USA Olympians in Volleyball at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, it shows the lifetime nature of our sport and other ideas. Look for their wonderful reflections and insights on the game later this summer on the USAV website. The record for the sport of a lifetime in film goes to the Norwegian documentary “Optimistene,” a delightful hour show about the 90 and over Norwegian women’s team. My copy was a gift of Norway Coach Hansen, thanks Tomm!

Yes, my dad played doubles in the 1950s, and I have played for over 50 years, and now my son is carrying the torch at Princeton. Boys volleyball continues to grow steadily at the high school level. It also does at the collegiate level, being the first men’s sport in 15 years to be added to the NCAA National Championships, when DIII was added two seasons ago. There are now 136 NCAA men’s teams in the nation.There are HUNDREDS of Collegiate Club Men’s programs in the nation – make sure to check out www.ncvfvolleyball.org. Additionally, the most updated statistics show that at the high school level, boys volleyball is behind girls 50,353 to 420,208 participants / 2,257 schools to 15,565 (but up from 393 schools 7,059 participants in 1984).

We have the flyer below, providing facts to those considering adding boys volleyball to their school, at both the high school and the collegiate levels. 

 

The Sport Development Department of USA Volleyball has grants available for regions, schools, and colleges to add/grow boys volleyball – This information is found in the new Boys/Men’s Program area of the Grassroots page. There is a new Coordinator, since December, for USAV’s boys and men’s programs, Leslee Harms (leslee.harms@usav.org). She would love to hear from you about your successes, best practices and interests in growing the game for both boys and men. In our sport, the diversity gap is about 100 to 1 in scholarships, and 8:1 at the high school level. Tom Tait also heads up our NCAA Men’s Collegiate Commission, which Leslee oversees and she can put you in touch with that group as well.

I would love to see others who have had success in growing boys or men’s programming share their ideas in the comment section below, if emailing Leslee does not work for you. In the meantime, here is a compilation of some of the ideas being used by grantees, regions and others in connection with USA Volleyball:

PowerPuff Volleyball - A counter-part at high school to girls playing powderpuff football. The girls varsity volleyball players coach a team of seniors vs juniors after the basketball season ends in a  volleyball battle that is a fundraiser for a good cause too. The girls are good at getting the boys basketball players out to perhaps experience the game for their first time in a more organized and powerful way.

Coed Competition – The game is just a wonderful sport at all ages to be played coed – with the net being raised for boys to the adult men’s height starting at the 15 and under level

Smashbal – This version of the game at the elementary school level has grown boys volleyball in Holland by 240 percent – see the video here if you have missed it.

Father Son/Mother Son volleyball competition on Fathers/Mothers Day –Friday afternoon, juniors get a clinic on playing the doubles game with the rule differences and playing fast, fun, five minute games against as many other junior teams as time permits. Saturday, the juniors play age group doubles, while parents watch or visit the area. Sunday (Father's Day/Mother’s Day), Parent/Child competition takes place in 18 & under and 15 & under divisions. Parent’s with two or more kids are allowed to substitute the kids freely, even point by point, as long as the oldest child's age division is competed in.

Boys Spring Volleyball Event - One way a club or program can create an inexpensive, coed optional, after school league to give more boys the chance to experience volleyball on the lower 7'4 ¼" net. Each evening's competition only takes 3 hours yet provides as much competition as many nearly all day tournaments. Download this informative USAV Grassroots department document.

Creating a School Boy’s Team -  Why not? Click here to read how to.

"LOST BOYS" Volleyball Project–A program in which boys are rewarded by skill, effort, and improvement through playing the game. Some award ideas may include T-shirt decals or something as simple as stickers. Check out the entire program by clicking HERE.

Increasing Awareness for Boys Volleyball- Include boys' volleyball teams at major girl's events. Designate a court or two for boys or men to use during the girls tournament. Coordinate with high school, club, or collegiate programs to get their guys involved.

Adding a Boys Program JO style- Add boys, in either a coed training fashion, or as a team in your junior program, is strongly encouraged to enhance a program. Your program can do this by helping the middle and elementary schools to add boy’s teams for inter-school training and competition. Your players and parents can help guide, coach and train the school leagues. This is best first done at the 10-14 year old level, where the boys compete on the girls' height net. These little brothers and other boys need your program to get the chance to play this wonderful sport of a lifetime.

Mad Hatter Event – You don’t need a team to play! Everyone signs up as an individual and new teams are drawn before every round. Depending on how many courts you have you can draw numbers out of a hat or use poker chips. All players with the same number or color are a team for that set. Play one set to 25, take a short water break, record their scores on a big blank chart with their names and a bunch of other blank columns for their score difference each set (example +4 or-4) and then redraw teams. At the end total everyone’s score for prizes. You can give out prizes for the highest score, lowest score and the score closest to zero.

Thank you in advance for any new ideas that are shared and as always, thank you for helping grow the game together.

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