February 12, 2018

Dear Coach,

My daughter Sara is a 5'10" Freshman. 
She has never had to try out for a club team - she has always been recruited at open gyms once they see her athleticism and how well she responds to coaching. She was a 6-rotation player for her JV squad this year, and played enough on varsity to Letter as a Freshman, playing OH, MB, and RS. On her club teams she played MB last season (MB and some OH this season) due to her size and athleticism compared to her teammates. She has aspirations of playing in college, but realizes that her size is going to hold her back from playing a front row position in most DI programs and while her defense continues to improve, doesn't feel she'll ever be good enough to be a DS in college. In middle school and her 13's club she played Setter, which she really enjoyed.

My daughter is torn. On one hand, her club coach is the setter for the local college men's club VB team, and he feels she's better suited to hitting than setting. On the other hand, the operations director of her club was a starting setter for the local NCAA Division I women's team and played two years of professional vb in Europe, and she has said that if my daughter wants to set, she could help her become a terrific setter.
Would you recommend that she continue refining her skills as hitter this summer, or do you think it would be worthwhile for her to work on Setting to see if she has what it takes to switch positions next club season? (In High School, she'd be blocked at Setter until her Senior year, as there is a unanimous All-Conference Setter a year ahead of her. Or do you think she should just continue focusing on being the best OH/RS she can be, and resign herself to not playing DI volleyball?



The question which you need to ask is of your daughter; "What position do you enjoy playing the most?".  This is the only question which matters.  

In high school, you are subject to the needs of the team.  With regards to recruiting, High school is not nearly as important as club.  College coaches understand that High School volleyball is a unique situation where players often have to play out of position for the good of the team; I have had my collegiate setters who were middle blockers in high school!

Once your daughter answers the your question, based on nothing other that what she enjoys most (take College Volleyball out of the equation, take the opinions of the club coaches out of the equation...), then move forward with the club program choice accordingly.

She will excel the most, playing the position she enjoys the best and then you match her collegiate potential to this enjoyment.


January 5, 2018

College Volleyball Recruiting Goals...

I have been playing volleyball for a good 5 or 6 years, and I am a freshman in High School. When I first started playing volleyball I played OH for two years and then setter for two years, and now I switch out between MH and OH. 

I am 5'6" with a 24" vertical and I am curious if I ever have a chance of playing SEC or NCAA volleyball as a front row player. I have been working out hard core since the beginning of summer to increase my vertical, and it has increased by a least a foot since then. 

If I keep working and get my vertical to 30" could I actually have a chance of playing front row?


Thank you for your email.  Playing at the collegiate level is a combination of height and ability; think of it as a sliding scale (for simplicity, I will lump athleticism into ability).  The elite level DI volleyball players have both height and ability; they are on the taller side and they are very good.

There are over 1600+ women's college volleyball teams in the USA.  The key factor for any recruit, is to properly match their height/ability to the corresponding college volleyball category.  While so many good high school volleyball players want to play for Nebraska, or Penn State or Florida or Stanford, the vast majority of these recruits will not posses the height and ability to do so.
With regards to your questions; it would be a challenge to play in the SEC or upper NCAA Division I as a 5'6" attacker.  I am not saying it is impossible, as we have seen "shorter" OH's recently on the elite programs, but these "shorter" OH's are 5'9"+ and have outstanding abilities - they pass perfect, play great defense, jump very high, have a variety of attacks and speeds, etc.

But, a 5'6" OH with a 30" attack jump, and good all around skills, would garner attention from lower ranked NCAA DI teams, along with many, many NCAA Division II and NAIA programs.  In addition, the odds of you actually being on the court playing, are much better at the lower levels than at the elite level.  Top rated DI volleyball is height driven, and college coaches are recruiting that OH who has very good abilities, jumps 30" and is also 6'3" tall!

I encourage you to focus more on your abilities, rather than focus on your vertical.  If you jump high, but can't pass, can't hit line, can't go high off the blocks hands, can't chop angle, can't roll shot, can't block the slide, then jumping high really won't help you get to your goal level.

My final bit of experience advice, is to not get mentally slotted into a certain level or conference.  I know many DI players who had a miserable collegiate experience because of the time demands, the pressure to perform, the coaching changes, etc.  Conversely, I know many elite level players who chose DII/NAIA and had great experience which they would not have changed for anything!

Good luck this club season!