High school volleyball coaches too often get lost in the recruiting process because club volleyball has become the avenue to securing a spot on a college volleyball team. While the club volleyball coaches may have a good understanding of a Prospective Student Athlete (PSA), my belief is that the high school coach will be able to provide a more in-depth analysis of a player's personality.
While the strength of the high school coach can be and in-depth understanding the PSA through year's of interaction, a common weakness of high school coaches is not having a good grip on what it takes to physically play college volleyball.
I receive many, many e-mails from high school coaches which say that a player is a college level player or has college level skills. All too often, I see the corresponding video tape and the mentioned player is no where near having the ability to play in college.
I understand that high school coaches are trying to assist their players in the goal of playing college volleyball and need to promote those players to college coaches, but when the promotion does not come close to the ability, it is not good.
A few suggestions for high school coaches:
1. Go watch a college volleyball match in person.
This can be tough because the seasons run simultaneously, but because of high school football, there are no Friday night high school volleyball matches and there are always Friday night volleyball matches. If you send an e-mail to the college coach, they will put you on the pass list as a professional courtesy.
2. Go watch a junior college match, a NCAA Division III match, Division II match and a Division I match.
Each level is different and only by seeing each match in person can you get a feel for the skill levels needed to succeed at each level. Read what I wrote - watch the SKILLS.
3. Sit as close to the court as possible for a match.
By sitting very close to the court, you can get a feel for just how high college players jump, just how quick they are to the ground and back up off the floor. Sitting up high in the stands is like watching volleyball on television - it will not give you enough feedback on the physicality of the game.
4. Go to a college level or national level sponsored coaching clinic.
Not only for your own coaching development, but to understand what type of skills that college coaches are looking for when they evaluate PSA's. There are some basic no-no's that college coaches have when evaluating talent, that seem to be acceptable to high school coaches who recommend PSA's - backwards footwork, bad passing form, not being able to roll or sprawl on defense, being overweight, no jump, not knowing proper court alignment, etc.
5. Ask a college coach for help evaluating a player's college potential.
College volleyball coaches are a rather approachable bunch - if you are a local high school coach, drop a tape into the mail and ask a local college coach to recommend a level appropriate for that player to pursue. I would do this for a local high school coach in a heartbeat - would be happy to do it! This way, you are able to provide accurate advice to your player.
I offer these suggestions because many times, the high school coach is the one that college coaches can trust to be an innocent. Many club coaches are wide eyed and star struck when a big name college coach interacts with them about a player. In a very real sense, it is an accomplishment for the club and the club coach to be able to say they sent a player to State University.
A high school coach, though aware of the colleges, tends to be a bit more removed from these ego inflations because they are not around the strange world of club volleyball where the college coaches are on constant display.
When I want to get honest feedback about the personality of a PSA, I will always contact the high school coach. I hope my suggestions might allow for high school coaches to become a bit more involved in the accurate recommendation of a player's physical abilities.