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High School How-To: Data-driven Tryouts using the avcaVPI™

Written by Alex Fitzmorris-Sorn | Posted on 07/15/2020 | Share

As a high school coach, tryouts can be one of the most challenging and potentially stressful weeks of the season. On one hand, there is the excitement of this symbolic start to the year, the blank slate that is a new season and fresh set of opportunities.  On the other, there is the stress and anxiety that coaches face while trying to make the best decisions for their athletes and program.

This fall, coaches will face additional challenges in evaluating their athletes. Many areas of the country are not allowing summer training, and those that are often have limitations on practices and camps. These not only limit the ability for athletes to train, but also eliminate the litmus tests which coaches have used in the past to see where players might fit into their program..

For example, you may have 60 Freshmen trying out for 10 spots on your Freshman team. Two or three of these players move up to JV or Varsity, leaving you with 45 players to evaluate over the course of two or three days. Your state hasn’t allowed practices this summer, so you haven’t had any opportunities to train or evaluate their skill levels over the summer.

How is it possible to rank or evaluate that many players in a way that is both fair to the athletes and makes sense from a data-driven perspective, not just an ‘eyeball test’? That is precisely where the avcaVPI™ has immense value.

By using the avcaVPI™, a data-driven measure of athletic performance, coaches will be able to evaluate the current physical state of their athletes as well as their physical potential. Predicting physical potential and college-readiness is important not only for Varsity-caliber athletes who want to measure themselves against the scores of current college players, but for coaches when evaluating their athletes at all levels of their program.

The free avcaVPI™ Calculator App ensures that coaches have the resources to make a data-driven decision during tryouts, as well as a baseline measurement to continue testing their athletes against during the season.

If you’re limited on time, avcaVPI™ testing can be completed before school or as a station. For example, when I utilized this as a high school coach, we split Freshman and Upperclassmen into two timeslots in order to have 45-60 athletes trying out at a time. From there, we split athletes into three stations for the first 45 minutes of tryouts. One station consisted of measuring their height, standing reach, standing vertical, two-handed block touch, and height of attack. The second station measured their acceleration and pro agility times. More details about how to conduct those tests can be found by following this link.

We did not have access to a way to measure the arm swing velocity, so I found an approximate standard measurement and used it for our calculations – it wasn’t correct, but it was equally incorrect for every player, so it served as a control. That number, 32.06, was the average collegiate swing speed of an outside hitter, according to the avcaVPI™ database.

In total, each station only took 15 minutes and athletes rotated between those two stations as well as a skills evaluation station on a third court. It was simple, straightforward, and we were able to use the free avcaVPI™ Calculator App to plug in the results and calculate the VPI score for each athlete.

Physical testing is not revolutionary by any means; most coaches reading this probably already do some version of this in their own tryouts. What I hope you take away from this is the fact that you can utilize physical testing in a different way, one that can further inform the decisions you make as a coach, as well as provide specific resources to your athletes.

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