It’s the most wonderful time of the year for volleyball players. Club season has officially begun and you are gearing up to head to your first tournament. Packing may seem like the easy part, but sometimes you’ll need more than you think for a two or three day tournament. Use this checklist to ensure nothing gets left behind and you have everything packed away in your bag that you need.

Uniforms – Speaking from experience, go ahead and pack them ALL! It’s better to pack all of your uniforms rather than the ones you think you’ll wear just in case something unexpected happens. The incident of a teammate forgetting the uniform you were expected to wear, getting the memo of what uniform to wear confused, or even something getting stolen are all possible incidents you could run into.

Shoes – This one seems simple, but forgetting your shoes could easily happen to you. Over my 8 years of playing club and college volleyball I have left my shoes a handful of times. I watched a teammate I played college ball with forget her shoes when we were 6 states away from home and ended up having to wear shoes that were two sizes too small for her the entire weekend. OUCH!

Socks – Pack lots of these, your feet will begin to stink! Also nothing feels better than a fresh pair of socks after you have been playing all day.

Protective Gear – Aside from your uniform and shoes, your protective gear is something you absolutely cannot leave at home! The proper kneepads and ankle braces are the key to preventing injuries while playing competitive volleyball, so make sure to stick them in your bag before you leave. Along those same lines, make sure to double check your protective gear to make sure your kneepads aren’t ripping or your ankle braces aren’t loose/cracking. If you need new gear, make sure to do your research before the tournaments begin as to which kneepads and which volleyball ankle braces are best for you.

Spandex – You can never have enough spandex packed for the weekend. If you team provides you with more than one color of spandex make sure to pack them all.

Sweat Suit – Facilities and convention centers tend to get cold at times. Having a sweatshirt and sweatpants to quickly throw on in between matches is always a plus.

Headphones – These are a great essential to take to your tournaments as facilities and convention centers tend to be very loud through the day. With all of the whistles, cheering, and bouncing balls it’s nice to have something to block all the noise when those breaks between matches start to feel long.

Personal Items – Speaking of convention centers getting loud all day, it’s never a bad idea to pack something that might remedy a headache or muscle soreness if you need it. Personal items such as medications, chapstick, bandaids, and extra contacts/glasses should be brought along just in case something unexpected happens.

Phone/ Phone Charger – Who can live without their phone these days? (Don’t forget the charger!)

Water Bottle – Don’t forget to bring your own water bottle! Water bottles at tournaments can tend to be very expensive and seem to only last you one match or so.

Cash – If you’re someone who likes to hit up the concession stand, vendor booths, or vending machines make sure to bring a few dollars in case they don’t accept cards.

Deodorant – “Deo for your B.O.”… Travel size works perfectly for a quick weekend away. Long days of playing and sweating can definitely call for some quick deodorant to be applied.

Hair Accessories – These range from headbands, to hair ties, to bows. It is fun to add different hair accessories to your volleyball attire. You can even start fun traditions with your team with these.

Scented Sprays – Sprays come in handy after a long day of play when it is time to hop in the car and drive back home. This is one necessity you might forget about at the beginning of the season. I mean who ever thought you could have stinky knees?!

Snacks – You never know when hunger will strike so make sure to bring a couple snacks that will help fuel you through a long day of competition.

So, there you have it! The items above are what I always made sure to pack when traveling to club volleyball tournaments across the country – what would you add to the list? Let us know what’s in your volleyball bag in the comments!

Guest post written by former collegiate volleyball athlete Aubreigh Applegate.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

As if spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a year on playing volleyball itself alone isn’t enough, sometimes the volleyball player in your life deserves a little something extra. Whether you’re shopping for holiday gifts, birthday presents, or just a little something to surprise your teammate/best friend one of these gifts would be perfect for the volleyball player in your life.

Ornaments – A great holiday tradition to start would be getting an ornament for your volleyball player every winter listing the year, their team, their number, and other memorable stats. Once they’re older you can gather up their volleyball ornaments over the years and let them put them on their own display. Even better, if you have multiple volleyball players in your family – start a volleyball themed Christmas tree with personalized and volleyball-centric ornaments.

Fabric Deodorizers  – Ok, so if you’re a parent this gift may be more for you than your player but sometimes it’s just necessary. Travel size bottles of Febreze or other odor sprays can be perfect stocking stuffers that end up being kept in a travel bag to help control some of the awful odors that can be found in there. I’m talking about you, knee pads.

T-Shirt/Sweatshirt of their Favorite College Team – If your volleyball player is working hard towards earning a scholarship at their favorite school, help them dress the part before they get that offer letter. Oversize t-shirts and sweatshirts are the perfect gift for athletes.

Art – For the more creative volleyball player in your life, look to the internet to find some volleyball inspired art and prints. Items such as these volleyball string art boards, printable volleyball graphics that you can print and frame at home, and custom photo prints would all make great gift ideas.

Updated Gear – If you need to buy new gear for volleyball season you might as well wrap it and consider it a gift, right?? Why not! Make sure to take advantage of holiday sales to buy new stuff for the upcoming club season such as shoes, knee pads, volleyball ankle braces, and Spandex.

Water Bottle – While some people may think that a water bottle could be a boring gift, they always come in handy when you’re constantly on the go. Think outside of the box and look into creating a personalized water bottle for the volleyball player in your life, maybe with their team photo and number right on the cup. We love these volleyball travel bottles on Etsy.

Headbands – Just like water bottles, a volleyball player can never have too many headbands. Look into getting your player’s favorite headbands in a variety of styles and make sure she’s fully stocked for this upcoming club season.

Volleyball Phone Case – If you’re looking for something to give a volleyball player that they will use more than just while at a game, a new phone case is the perfect gift idea. Make sure you double check what type of phone case you will need before purchasing!

Sneaker Deodorizer Balls – Maybe this could be a joint gift with the odor spray mentioned above, but if you’re constantly plagued by the scent of smelly, gross volleyball shoes these might be able to help clear the air for a little while.

Headphones – While a phone case can be a cheaper tech gift option, you can always take it up a notch by buying your volleyball player some noise cancelling headphones. These headphones are perfect to drown out the sounds of yelling, balls, and whistles at tournaments to help concentrate before a game or eliminate background noise while traveling and trying to get some rest.

Hand-Tied Fleece Blanket – Everyone I know has been cold at some point or another traveling to/from and being at volleyball tournaments. By buying a couple pieces of fleece fabric you can easily create a hand-tied fleece blanket to create a gift that your volleyball player will definitely get some good use out of.

Keychain Accessories – It’s pretty common for players to collect items to put on their backpacks from each tournament or event they go to, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more! Keychain accessories, such as pendants, team names, and numbers, are an inexpensive way to help commemorate a memorable game or season.

DIY It! – Doing a quick Pinterest search of “Volleyball Party” ideas will give you tons of ideas on items you could create yourself as gifts for your volleyball player, coach, or team. From hair bows to pillows to cake pops to bling-ed out shoes, there is something for every crafting skill level!

Jewelry – Volleyball rings, jewelry, and bracelets are a great gift to give to the accessorized athlete in your life. Volleyball jewelry options on Etsy range from low cost earrings to personalized necklaces to stackable rings. 

If you’re still looking for gift ideas for the volleyball player in your life, I hope this list has helped spark some ideas! If you’re already done with your holiday shopping, what good gift ideas would you share that others could use to help shop for their favorite volleyball player? Let us know in the comments!

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries

As a previous collegiate student athlete I can tell you my journey getting there was not as simple and easy as most people probably would think. I was not 6’0 tall, I was not the best of the best, and I did not come from a family of collegiate athletes that knew how the recruiting system worked. But I did know one thing – that I was going to do whatever it took to become a collegiate volleyball player.

When it came to being recruited, I simply thought at some point if I kept working hard and bettering myself every day that I would see offers from several schools rolling in and I wouldn’t have to do a thing. Yes, I received those exciting letters in the mail and felt like I was on top of the world when I got them but I never really knew what to do after that. I thought that I simply just had to keep attending practice and winning games and they would do the rest. I quickly found out this was not the case… The recruiting process became almost like a full time job.

I was entering my junior year of high school piecing together videos to send off to colleges, taking calls each week from coaches, researching and visiting schools across the country, and learning how to market myself as a player. In the end, it all became worth it though when I finally accepted a scholarship from a DI volleyball program.

So any of you feeling the pressure of time running slim, or even for those of you early in your volleyball career here a few quick tips on how to best start the recruitment journey:

Start Now

Do not wait until schools start reaching out to you! There are a lot of contact rules that schools have to follow, so sometimes they are waiting on you to reach out to them. The best thing about starting early is that you can learn from your mistakes and have time to fix them or make them better in the end. It takes some time to learn and perfect how to market yourself as a player and by starting early you are only leaving more room to grow.

Some things you can start doing today include:

  • Look up potential schools and both their academic and volleyball program reputations to identify which would be a good fit for you as both a student and a player.
  • Learn more about coaches and their track record to determine if their coaching style is one you’d work well with.
  • Begin recording and collecting highlight clips and learning how to make those into a professional video to market yourself.
  • Create a timeline of goals for yourself to achieve over the next few years. Having deadlines in place help keep you on track to reach certain goals and ensure you won’t get behind in the recruiting process.

Do Your Research

Start researching schools you think you would be interested in. Talk to former teammates, coaches, parents, and friends and begin compiling a list of schools that you are interested in learning more about. When researching potential schools, there are lots of things you need to consider including:

  • Is a degree offered in the area of study you want to join?
  • Is the volleyball program one you could see yourself a part of?
  • Is the campus a right fit for you?
  • Do you have any connections to that school (friends, family, former teammates) that could provide insight, help you set up an initial meeting, or give you a tour of campus?

These are all important things to gain insight on before choosing a school and program to be a part of. This allows you to narrow down and pin point specific schools that best fit your needs as a student and player before reaching out for more information.

Reach Out

Don’t be afraid to reach out to schools that you have not heard from. Simply put together a brief email introducing yourself and list your achievements as a player. It’s also important to include why you find their school and program appealing and to ask if a visit to the school would be an option.

With your initial contact email, you should include links to videos and highlights you have put together, or even a copy of your tournament schedules. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO GET RECRUITED! This gets your name out there for coaches, not only for specific schools, but all schools. Coaches communicate and you never know, even that one video you send out could end up in the hands of several college coaches.

Once you take this step in the recruitment process you will recognize more coaches coming to watch your games and more letters and emails coming in. Congratulations! You are one step closer to accepting that offer.

Seek Help if Needed

The luxury many players have these days is the assistance of someone to help them with this entire process. Find someone that is familiar with the process, like a coach or former athlete, that will be dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. You can find help easily either over the internet on specific websites, or from your local recruiting coordinator if one is provided. These recruiting coordinators have spoken with many college coaches and know what coaches are looking for within their programs and could find you a doorway into a great volleyball program. Just remember, do not let them do all the work as it’s important to stay engaged in the process.

Work Toward Your Goal

Set a goal for yourself and work towards it. It might take long hours in and out of the gym, but I promise you will get there. There will be days of doubt, but the hard work and dedication will all be worth it in the end.

If you’re an athlete, parent, or coach that has gone through or is currently going through the recruiting process what tips would you give other athletes to help them achieve their goals? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries