Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What's On Your Court? A Key To Injury Prevention

In the past two decades the junior season has been extended approximately three weeks and now goes into the second week of July. High school season begins immediately after, followed by club tryouts in early November. That leaves a very short break, if any, for the junior athletes.  As we embark on the 2014-2015 club volleyball season, we want to highlight a growing trend in volleyball facilities and volleyball venues at the junior, collegiate and international level. 
The agreement is almost universal that the season is too long and the length of the season is contributing to several issues that have a negative impact on the sport. Those issues are less participation at the youth level, more injuries at all levels and an overuse factor for those players that must go directly from their club teams to the USA High Performance programs or their collegiate program. Many of the elite level collegiate coaches have been saying for years that many incoming freshman are entering college with overuse and chronic injuries that will plague them for most or all of their collegiate careers. 

Plastic tile courts directly over concrete offer little protection against impact injuries

One factor that can significantly decrease the chronic injuries is a softer playing surface that is more forgiving on an athlete's body during the 2-3 hour practice consisting of endless  jumping, landing, and diving across the floor. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, more than 46.5 million youth participate in sports each year in the United States. Safety, protection, and durability are characteristics that all coaches and parents can agree upon when considering what type of flooring kids will play on. The video below is a look at how Sports Performance Volleyball Club, one of the most successful boys and girls junior volleyball clubs in the country and the world, does their best to prevent injury and overuse in their junior volleyball athletes through their training schedule and training surface in their facility.

The 2015 JVA World Challenge will feature an Official FIVB Taraflex® court during competition and teams will be able to experience the benefits on their bodies' recovery after the numerous hours of play over the 3 day event.

Taraflex® Sports Floors at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, University of Nebraska

Team USA won their first Gold Medal on Taraflex® Sports Floors
at the FIVB Women’s World Championship, Italy 2014

Taraflex® by Gerflor is used by leading youth volleyball programs around the country and NCAA Division I volleyball powerhouses like the University of Nebraska and University of Hawaii, and the International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB).   Gerflor, through IHF and FIVB agreements, has supplied courts for handball and volleyball tournaments during the last Olympic Games in London in 2012.  Its storied history is matched only by its benefits to players of all levels.

Taraflex® is ASTM F2772 certified, which means that it helps prevent long-term debilitating injuries for athletes. Shock absorption characteristics – combined with its foam backing – constitutes Taraflex®’s Impact Protection Index (IPI) and protects players of any level when they fall, slide or dive for a ball. In fact, athletes receive more support and stability around the point of impact (called deformation) with Taraflex®, which results in fewer injuries for a difference a player can actually feel.

Coach Jim McLaughlin of the University of Washington says, “It’s [Taraflex®] better for the players in terms of extra cushioning for safety and longevity.” At the University of Hawaii, Coach David Shoji says, “Taraflex® is the safest court because it is forgiving on our players’ bodies.” Volleyball club teams, youth programs, recreation centers, colleges, and universities can take a page out of these leading coaches’ playbooks when it comes to Taraflex®. Whether your players are just starting out or they are involved in elite level play, Taraflex® provides maximum safety, protection, and durability as they pivot, slide, jump, dive, and dig their hearts out.

If you're attending the JVA World Challenge in Louisville April 10-12th, make sure to check out the Official FIVB Taraflex® court that will be featured as one of the championship courts!

This article was brought to you by Taraflex®, the official volleyball surface of the FIVB:  Order your own custom-color Taraflex® courts for 50% off, limited time only!  Contact Joe Corbett at Gerflor USA to learn more.

For more junior volleyball education visit www.jvaonline.org.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Is a Facility Required?

By Tim Vande Schraaf, President/CEO, Eastside Volleyball Club
In order to run a successful club volleyball program, do you need to own a building? Eastside Volleyball Club (Illinois) is going into its 19th year of running a successful program in Central Illinois and we have never owned a facility. Thousands of girls have benefited from our creative court scheduling. Have we looked at opening facilities in the past? Of course the answer to that question is yes. Our current model and process is one that any club can use, as long as they have the initiative and passion for the sport.

Some information on our club: Club Volleyball to us is not a business and we do not operate that way. We are a genuine grass roots effort. Our goals are very simple, we want to better the sport of volleyball and afford opportunities to our participants. My wife Diane and I were cornerstones of the organization when we laid the foundation of our idea 19 years ago. To this day we still operate with those principals. Our model for facilities is entwined with our club philosophy so one needs to understand our approach first.

This past season we had 35 club teams and 8 Mini Volleyball teams. Our club utilized 6 facilities:  1) RiverPlex is our Primary Hub, 2) Germantown Hills Middle School (SE - 15 minutes), 3) East Peoria High School (S - 10 minutes), 4) Robein Middle School ( S - 10 minutes), 5) Eastside Centre ( S- 10 minutes) and 6) Dunlap High School (N-25 minutes). On a given night I would probably put 50+ miles on my vehicle traveling to the various facilities. Our club purchased net systems for most of the facilities.

Our club’s practice structure consists of one practice night that is longer and focuses on technique and positional training. The other practice nights are what we consider team nights and teams each have their own court. Friday nights are normally free in many gyms. Our Mini VB program has 15-16 players and practices on 1-2 courts.

In our consideration of purchasing a facility, we felt that by opening a facility, we would lose some of the passion that we have for our current effort. We would also be tied down worrying about facility finances. We have bargained and negotiated for every hour of time we have used for our program and successful tournament series. One key element is that when negotiating for time, we demonstrate and stress what the community and schools are going to receive from our hard work. The facilities we use are owned by other community partners, such as schools and park districts. Our club program has the same philosophy.

The following are a couple tips for a club to operate without a facility successfully.

·   Establish your club playing fees as low as you can. Our club is not set-up as a money making proposition. Our leaders and staff have other livelihoods for income. By keeping fee structures down, communities are more willing to partner with your program.

Give back to the community by offering assistance for community projects related to volleyball. Help start other grassroots efforts in the community.

We work with schools and park districts on their dead time for our practices. For example we use a local school and bank $X.X per hour per court for practices. The school has nothing in the gym and the staff is present in the school during clean-up, so this income is residual to them. Our primary practice facility that is owned by the Park District has a similar arrangement, except it advances to a different level. We host tournaments at this facility and pay them $X.X per hour per court. They also work and receive proceeds from the admission gate. Our club keeps a running tally on expense to tournaments, and as long as our expenses are covered, we issue refunds to some of the facilities in the form of gifts to schools that have members that are coaching for us.

In order to avoid double booking, we try and stay ahead and communicate a lot with facilities so we can be proactive on finding alternate sites when conflicts come up. We normally do not have too many issues since we have a strong line of communication. Most times last minute conflicts can be avoided.

Pros of using this system: 

  1. You are able to keep costs down by using gym time that is not being used by other programs. Many gyms like to get tenants they can always count on.
  2. We don't have to worry about business expenses such as utilities, custodial, etc..
  3. We don't have personal capital financial outlay by funding a building for business purposes.
  4. There are ancillary items such as training machines, etc. that the facilities have for their programs we are able to access. For example the RiverPlex has 10 nice Sand Courts that we are able to use for our program.

Of course for all the good, yes there are some cons to not having your own facility:

  1. Creative scheduling needs to be done and we visit the schedule often to try and head off duplicate booking. With more communication we do not have to many problems.
  2. We dont have the luxury to say, this is our own home, but that doesn't seem important for parents that are wanting to meet a home budget.
  3. The distance between practice facilities can be challenging for a managing aspect, but we have a set location for our teams to practice that doesn't fluctuate.
  4. When we do not control the facility, you could have to deal with emergency changes that alter our schedule, but again our parents understand, and some having played with clubs that own their own facilities, that aspect doesn't seem important.

As long as clubs are good stewards in their community, and partner with local facilities, they should have no problem being successful without ever owning a facility. This model may not work for some, but it has worked with us. Feel free to call me at (309) 635-4179 or email at Director@eastsidevb.com any questions on this idea or others we have used. We are here to help and assist where we can.

For additional information on this topic view the PowerPoint from Tim’s presentation at the 2007 AVCA Convention Grassroots Volleyball: Negotiating for Success with Facilities. A Total Community Effort

For more junior volleyball education for club directors and coaches, click here.