Updated: Feb 18
After only practicing together for 4 weeks, having taken 2 months off volleyball after college season, and really only knowing each other for two months we decided to travel to Zhongwei, China, to compete in our first FIVB professional tournament. It was a 2 star level tournament and we thought it would be a great starting point for our career together.
Overall, we finished 18th. Making the main draw but losing to a strong Japanese team in three sets and younger but extremely scrappy Netherlands team. Although it was a very disappointing finish for us, we had many takeaways from our first tournament together that we would like to share with you all.
1. Trust the process. This was our first international tournament together and thus it was pointless to get upset at our result. This was our starting point and know we have a baseline we can compare future tournaments too.
2. We realized the result of this and any tournament truly does not matter as long as you are continuing to improve every time and able to see areas of growth. Tournaments and game play are great opportunities to observe where you need to improve as you are trying to perform every skill at the highest capacity. Thus, it becomes clear what skills need more work and fine-tuning.
3. Always debrief as a team after the tournament. It can be hard to talk about losses but once the tournament is finished sit down while it is fresh in your memory and discuss what went well, what you think you need to improve on individually and as a team, and create a action plan for practice for the next couple weeks. If you are not using tournaments as a training opportunity than you are losing out.
To make an unfortunate situation a little better we were tourists in China for two days while we waited for our flight, and sure learned a lot about what to expect when travelling to China. So if you're planning on travelling to China, especially for a sport, keep reading for our official tips to China.
1. If you are going to a smaller town, like we did, expect practically no one to speak English. We thought we would be able to get by but it was rare to find someone that could speak English. Luckily for us, Megan had downloaded Google Translate prior to leaving so we managed to get around. So tip number 1, download a translator that works offline!
2. All social media, google, whatsapp, youtube, and many other sites are blocked in China. This was news to us and left us unable to do much. Tip number 2, download VPN before you go. It is an app that somehow gives you access to these restricted sites... I don't know how or if it's wrong to do, but if you want to Snapchat, you gotta do what you gotta do.
3. Food. Not as scary as people make it out to be. But, definitely if you do not feel like eating noodles or dumplings for breakfast, bring some form of breakfast. Peanut butter and toast or oatmeal goes a long way. We also bought freeze-dried camping meals for dinners just in case but ended up eating at the hotel most of the nights. Also a tip, bring bowls and utensils if you are going to bring your own food!
4. Convert money in the airport. Man did we make the mistake of waiting until we got to Zhongwei before converting our USD to Yuan! Could have been that it was a small town, but finding a currency exchange was very difficult and when we did it took about 45 minutes to actually get the money converted and they required all of our personal information.
5. Prepare to be stared at, video taped, and photographed...everywhere. Again, could have been a small town thing.. or that we are both above 6 feet.