May 16, 2008

College Volleyball Camps and Recruiting

A good question about summer camps and recruiting:

What is your opinion on attending summer college camps for the PSA to “get seen”? My daughter is a junior in high school and is one of those 5’9” OH average skill players but has a great attitude, wants to play and is a good team leader. Not a star player but a good consistent level player. Maybe a lower level D-2 player, or a good NAIA or JC player – skill wise. Are there any that have great instruction?

Thanks, Debbie

The biggest challenge that faces Debbie's daughter is that there are so many players like Debbie's daughter - I would guess that the most numerous volleyball position is the 5'9" Outside Hitter. By the lack of a mention of a club association, it looks that high school volleyball may be the extent of her volleyball background.

If the Prospective Student Athlete had played a full season or two of club volleyball, then I would venture to say that using college volleyball camps as means to display your volleyball abilities would be a poor choice. Granted that not every college can possibly see every club volleyball player, but it is the job of college coaches to find and evaluate players.

In those situations where participating in club volleyball is not possible (sport conflicts, finances, travel distance, etc.), the using college volleyball camps as an exposure vehicle can make sense if approached logically; right location, comfortable academics, college volleyball team has openings or expressed an interest.

A few random thoughts to consider:

1. The skill instruction at college volleyball camps can run the spectrum - I have seen name brand DI camps that were a waste of money and no-name JC camps that were worth every penny; it can be hit or miss with instruction. I tend to favor smaller camps where a camper has a better opportunity to be taught by the head or assistant coach, rather than a current or former college player.

2. They can be expensive - When viewing some camp brochures that I pick up at Junior tournaments, I am amazed at some of the costs of these college volleyball camps. I understand there is the benefit of improving your technical volleyball abilities, in addition to exposure, but is can be costly proposition.

3. Consider putting together a first rate skills tape, making a lot of copies and sending these tapes to the college volleyball classifications that you mentioned in the question - I promise you that every tape you send will be watched. For the amount of money you would spend to go to one camp, you could film, edit, copy and mail out video to just about every potential school.

4. Start saving for club volleyball (if you currently don't play club - if you do, re-read the first part of my answer). Club volleyball is the best vehicle to get seen by college coaches (all classifications), develop your technical abilities (if your club coach is knowledgeable) and gain valuable competition experience. Put this money from camps into the bank and start saving for the costs of club.

5. NCAA Divisions I and III are the only classifications that do not allow for tryouts or participation with the team during a campus visit; all the other college volleyball programs use tryouts or workouts during visits to evaluate talent. If you really want to showcase your abilities, contact those schools that you believe may be a good fit for you and go try-out.

I do a number of camps each summer and I have been in a position to assist many PSA's with finding college opportunities - seldom is it with my program, but sometimes this does happen. But, that being said, I would discourage the pursuit of a college opportunity through summer camps. If you were a 6'3" OH who just has never played club and was from a small town high school, then maybe I could see the possibilities, but not with what you have described in your question.

The last thing is - Don't stop trying! There are spots available and it comes down to those PSA's that are willing to keep working for that spot - contact coaches, send out videos, offer to come for visits or workouts. Camps as a means to develop skills and broaden a PSA's horizons? Great. Camps to showcase ability? Not the best choice.