USA Racquetball News 2020 Junior Team Sel...

2020 Junior Team Selection Process

By Charlie Pratt, Head Coach, U.S. National Junior Racquetball Team | July 13, 2020, 12:52 p.m. (ET)

 

US National Junior Racquetball Team Selection Process 2020

 

With the cancellation of USAR Junior Nationals in June 2020, the Junior Team coaches (Jen Meyer, Jody Nance, Robbie Collins, and Tony Carson) and the USA Racquetball staff were faced with the challenge of how to form the team this year. After much discussion between the coaches and the US Team Committee, a plan was formed to conduct a selection process. This selection process would involve an application consisting of 12 questions; a video submission of competition and/or training; and a letter of recommendation.


We received 66 applications from athletes ranging from 9-19 years old!


Some of the selection criteria are based on past results: Have they been on the team before? How did they place at USAR Junior Nationals (and possibly IRF World Juniors) the past few years? But we also wanted athletes have a chance to earn their spot currently, and we wanted to have the opportunity to "meet" new players who very well may be junior team stars in the future.


Junior Team Head Coach Charlie Pratt


Which brings us to the second part of the selection process...


Phase 2 – July Training Videos


Each age group is assigned 1-3 training videos weekly (depending upon the number of applicants in that division). The videos are due by the end of each Friday in July. What might these training videos look like?


We want to see the athletes in their training environment. What are they doing to continue to get better, even with the limitations of social distancing? Are they working hard, but even better, are they focusing on the right things? Are they working on their weaknesses?


Each video can be up to 5 minutes in length. We want to see a variety of training throughout these videos: footwork, speed work, strength and conditioning, and of course, racquetball! We understand that many of the athletes are unable to find an indoor racquetball court to practice on, but there are other ways to practice and showcase their skills. Outdoor courts, walls, or even the side of their house (sorry, parents) will work just fine to show your racquet skills. It shows great drive and creativity if an athlete has limited racquetball availability but still finds a way to get their training done and reported. We think this is important because we don’t know how long we will have to train like this.


As we move through the month of July, the Junior Team Coaches will have the help of what we call the “Advisory Group." This group is made up of highly qualified individuals with both coaching experience as well as competitive experience. The Advisory Group will assist the coaches in making the final difficult decisions of who makes the team and who does not. They will ask questions, voice their thoughts, and provide overall support to the coaches throughout this process. We value their opinions and are extremely grateful for the time they are sacrificing for this cause.


We are aware that there will be disappointed athletes who do not make the team: that's the downside. We wish nothing more than for the athletes be able to earn their spot in competition, but that is not the reality this year. But, we are supremely dedicated to the fairness of this process, and we are doing everything we can do to make it the most positive and valuable experience possible!

 

I have tried to imagine myself as a junior athlete during these times. Having Nationals taken away...no tournaments in general...no Junior Team Camp...the uncertainly of a World Juniors––what a difficult time it must be. We owe it to them, the future of our sport, to provide the best possible experience -- for racquetball and for their life experience in general.

 

This has already been a great experience for the coaches. We are learning a lot about the athletes we have never worked with, and even more about the players we have worked with. We have received a lot of positive feedback from athletes and parents who have expressed gratitude for this opportunity. We are all very proud of this process. We are not allowing this pandemic to stop us from naming a team. The show must go on. And if Junior Worlds happens, we will be ready!


I want to wish all the athletes good luck, and the coaches and I sincerely thank them for their time and dedication. It is truly inspiring! 


Special thanks to USA Racquetball for giving the coaching staff the freedom and support to pursue this process. We are all extremely grateful.

Related Athletes

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Charles Pratt