United States captain Jordan Larson has voiced serious concerns about the dangers of burnout in international women’s volleyball and fears the quality of play is going down because players “just can’t handle it”.
Superstar Larson will shortly begin preparations for USA’s defence of their FIVB Volleyball Nations League title in what is the first big event of a packed summer schedule including Olympic qualifiers in August.
Speaking exclusively to Volleyverse, former Olympic silver medal winner Larson revealed she even contemplated taking a year off club volleyball in order to prepare properly for Tokyo 2020, but has since decided against the idea.
In an interview with the Free Ball podcast in February, the 32-year-old said she was considering taking a year-long rest after completing the domestic season with her current club Eczacıbaşı VitrA. She has since shelved that plan, but her concerns about the dangers of burnout remain.
“At that time of doing the podcast I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be playing next season,” she revealed. “This life gets tough being away from family every year, but I did decide I will be playing. I’ll have more details once the season ends.
“There is definitely genuine concern about burnout. Some of the top athletes in our sport met with some of the board on the FIVB regarding scheduling issues. It’s getting to be too much and I feel like the quality of volley is going down because our body and mind just can’t handle it. We are hoping this changes in the years to come.”
Should Eczacıbaşı VitrA, for whom Larson is team captain, reach the Champions League final on May 18, she will then have a gap of just two days’ ‘rest’ before the VNL begins.
The States have the added pressure of going into the tournament as defending champions after Larson captained the side to the title last year with a 3-2 win over Turkey in June’s final in Nanjing, China.
She told us: “As a national team, we try to have value for every tournament we play in, so winning VNL again would be a great honour for our team. I’m not sure how many people are sending some of their main players due to late club season finishes, but I’m sure it will definitely send a signal to the rest of the world [if we win again].”
On the team’s prospects for the Olympic qualifiers in early August in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, Larson added: “It is going to be a crazy but very important summer for us. We have to try and qualify for the Olympics. We are lucky that we get to host this tournament so being able to compete at home is a huge advantage for us.”