October 20, 2014

Walk On to Scholarship - College Volleyball Recruiting


Our daughter has been offered a 1st year walk on and a three year scholarship for ds/libero at a Division 1 school.  Can you please explain this offer?  Club directors are saying it is a solid offer.


Because of a wealth of talented Liberos/DS's in club volleyball (natural back row players and ball control outside hitters who parents let them down by being short), DI coaches employ "walk on to scholarship" offers.  

This allows college volleyball programs to load up on passing and ball control players, while having an 'out' if a libero/ds does not perform as expected her freshman year.  Much easier to not honor a scholarship commitment, then not renew an actual scholarship.

It is a sign of today's recruiting environment, where paying for one year of college, with the promise (and that is all it is, a promise) of receiving a 3 year scholarship is a good offer.

My questions -

1.  Is your daughter a current Senior in high school?

2.  Have you been proactive in the outreach to schools which fit your daughter's comfort zone (academic, athletic, geographic)?

3.  Does she love the school?

If you can answer Yes to each question, then I would accept the scholarship offer and say your prayers that there is not a head coach change before your daughter's sophomore season.

Should Yes be an answer to #1 and #3, then I would still say accept the scholarship offer and still pray.

But, if you can't say Yes to more than one of the questions, then I would have hesitations to accept the scholarship.

Good luck!

Coach Sonnichsen

October 16, 2014

College Volleyball Recruiting and playing position


I have been reading your blog for years! Very helpful!! 

My daughter is a 6' lefty sophomore who plays Right Side and is an avid sand player as well. In the past she has also been a setter (average at best) but last year a club director told her to specialize so she gave up setting for hitting. Lately she has only seen the front row and improved immensely at blocking and hitting, but wants to develop as a solid all around player. 

She is debating between getting back into setting, or focusing on her defensive skills. It's a no-brainer to always work to improve passing and defense, but it seems setting requires a whole other level of training. She is very aggressive & vocal and has always been a natural leader since she started playing at age 8. (Coaches would put her in the setting position more for her leadership skills than her actual physical setting skills.) 

She has mentioned a few times lately she'd really like to try setting again, but lacks confidence. I am confident she will do well if she really works at whatever she decides, but do not want to encourage her in the wrong direction. 

Advice? In terms of recruiting, would coaches rather have a tall lefty hitter who can set, or pass & play defense?



Thank you for the compliments on my site (remember that Inside College Volleyball can be an additional resource) and glad to hear it has been of help.

You have presented an interesting set of questions, and there really is no correct answer, just various opportunities.

The club coach was correct to have her specialize; college volleyball is now a game of specialization where players will play 3 rotations and college coaches want to see excellence within those 3 rotations.  The six rotation players are becoming less common and utilized.

Allow me to breakdown the opportunities, per your information:

1.  Right side focus - Left handed right side players with height are very attractive for collegiate coaches.  A right side attack threat opens up the entire offense, as it holds the attention of the opposing middle blockers.  While a program may not offer as many "right side" scholarships as for right handed outside hitters or middles, there will still exist many opportunities for her (as long as you do everything I tell you, and she never has deep fried Twinkies).

2.  Right side focus and 6 rotations - Being able to play back row effectively (this means passing a zone and having good defensive ability) makes a left handed player even more attractive because left handed servers have a natural cut serve into the right back corner of the court (harder for setters to manage a pass from this area), along with providing a back row attack as a bailout and/or offensive threat from behind the setter (thus occupying the left side block).  But, to play 6 rotations, you have to have the skill sets to actually play the rotations - Side out score means every potential dig/serve receive is critical and must be touched by the best possible player.

3.   Setter - A lefty setter who can attack a 2nd ball will be attractive, but only if she can be a 'setter' versus someone who sets.  Again, rally score makes every set critical because comebacks, like my youth, are a thing of the past.  A number of years ago, college coaches (especially DI) started recruiting tall setters, with the thought process that the height was needed on the block because rally score dictates each ball is important.  So, there were many tall, not especially talented setters.  While they would get a fair share of block touches, they were losing more points in their setting skills than they were gaining in there attacking skills.  This has resulted in college coaches refocusing their efforts on the abilities of the setter more than just the height of the setter.

My suggestions:

-  Only switch into the setting role, if she is prepared for Full Go to become a setter and not someone who can set the ball.  The demands of the setter are significant, both physically and mentally, and you just can't 'play' the position, you must live the position.

-  Work on the back row skills, as it will only increase abilities and thus make your PSA a more attractive candidate.

-  Continue to concentrate on the front row because the specialization of volleyball demands it; the higher her skill sets within the specialization, the more attractive her opportunities should be.  

Good luck!

Coach Matt