Many players have talked about how volleyball’s competition calendar is brutal. First, the season starts with domestic tournaments, which takes anywhere from 8 to 10 months. Then, players have to present themselves to their national teams to play the international circuit, which takes an additional 2 to 4 months, leaving the sport’s top stars no time to rest and very injury prone. Because of this, many players have decided to retire from their respective national teams very early into their careers.
Recognizing these problems, representatives from the Polish Volleyball Federarion (PZPS) are pushing for radical changes within the sport’s calendar. Mirosław Przedpełski, the former president of PZPS, and today a board member of FIVB and CEV, is one of many Polish volleyball authorities who have started a discussion on the matter. He has suggested a system similar to soccer, where domestic and international competitions are intertwined together. The domestic leagues would have their schedules spread out further, and the international competitions would be played out during breaks in them. The season would then total 10-11 months total, allowing star players a least a whole month of guaranteed rest.
Here Przedpełski’s official stance (Siatka.org):
“Today we have a situation that in my opinion resembles Sisyphean work. Playing in such a way that the as clubs end the season, the best players go straight to the national team, results that athletes are exploited to their limit. At the same time, in this break for the matches of the national teams (from mid-May to mid-October) 90% of players, who are not national teamers, are left with nothing to do. It does not serve anyone. In addition, such a system makes the strongest leagues in the world have to play for only a few months, squeezing the schedule, often playing twice a week. This, in turn, makes the fans feel overloaded. The division of the calendar into club matches and international matches causes that both clubs, as well as national federations organizing the matches of the national team, must often start and stop marketing activities in an endless cycle. That’s why it is often Sisyphean work. It has a very demotivating effect on the development business related activities. You need to change this unfavorable trend
In my opinion, this outdated calendar is one of the factors that causes volleyball to be developing financially in a slow pace. American research has shown that around 800 million people play volleyball in the world at least once a week. In addition, during the last four Olympic Games volleyball was at the top (in London and Rio de Janeiro at the first!) places in terms of the number of tickets sold or viewership. So we have people who practice the sport, there is interest, but this does not translate into the financial and media strength of our discipline in the world. Without radical changes, we have no chance of improvement.”
Recently, international stars Karol Klos (here) and Jiri Kovar (here) have closed the door on their respective national teams due to its grueling schedule. In addition, Italian clubs have threatened the Italian Volleyball Federation and CEV to withhold its players if their schedules are not changed.