Philippine volleyball is undeniably booming like the powerful spikes the sport is known for. The clearest proof from recent memory has to be last year’s University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 76 winner-take-all title match won by the Ateneo Lady Eagles against their archrivals De La Salle Lady Spikers, which saw an all-time record attendance of 21,314 spectators packing the Mall of Asia Arena. (This was followed by an audience of a still-astounding 20,705 fans during the ultimate match UAAP Season 77, with Ateneo again emerging as champion.)
Of high significance, too, is the establishment of the following leagues: The nationally-televised and popular Shakey’s V-League in 2004 and the country’s pioneering professional corporate club volleyball league, the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) in 2013.
So, for those who want to be the next volleyball stars like Alyssa Valdez or Marck Espejo, here are some helpful tips:
Start training young
If you have this athletic dream, and haven’t yet taken the first step, start now! All over the world, undisputable records show that the most successful athletes of any sport, like world and Olympic champions, started training young. And, top national and international volleyball players are no exceptions. The younger you start in a sport, the more lead time you have to hone your skills, gain deeper understanding of the game, develop experience and mental toughness, and make instinctual your execution of techniques. So join the club nearest you, in your school or community.
Join training camps
Usually held as summer training camps, these activities will definitely give any budding and even experienced volleyball players the edge – while others are most probably engaging in other forms of fun like barkada gimmicks or playing video games. While required participation fees of volleyball camps led by renowned coaches and athletes can be quite costly, there are also charitable organizations that offer free or low-cost trainings like the Heroes Volleyball Program and the Youth Sports Advocacy. Go online and find contact info and details on training camps that are accessible and convenient to you. To check on the credentials of a training camp and its handlers, you can contact the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF).
Make the team!
If you truly aspire to someday become a pro, it is imperative that you make it to a team to prove you’re a cut above the rest. Try out and qualify to your school’s varsity team: elementary, high school and college. As a regular sport of the Palarong Pambansa, you can play for your elementary and/or high school team, and then qualify for your city or provincial team, then ultimately for your regional team which will vie for the annual national title. Volleyball is also played in the high school divisions of both the UAAP and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Also, remember that the country’s top high school players are, needless to say, often get under the radar of collegiate teams of the aforementioned most popular collegiate athletic leagues of the country.
Be a team player
Whatever position you play – be it outside hitter, middle blocker, setter or libero/defensive specialist — remember that volleyball is a team sport. And the professional league values players who are unselfish and can effectively blend and contribute to team play and its success. And, it’s a given that becoming disciplined and following your coach will make you a true team player.
As the saying goes, “A student-athlete is student first, athlete second.” The country’s professional volleyball league, the Philippine Super Liga, requires for eligibility two years of college. But, while you’re at it, might as well finish your four-year course and earn a bachelor’s degree. Playing is not forever, and it is always practical to have a college diploma to fall back on to enhance your chances of landing at least a decent job when your athletic career is over.
Follow these tips, and if you work hard and consistently churn out respectable collegiate volleyball performances in the UAAP or NCAA, chances are the pro league (and/or the National Team) will come knocking shots on your door.