July 6, 2008

Volleyball Home Visits - What to do.

Since we have passed July 1st on the calendar, NCAA rules allow for college coaches to meet with Prospective Student-Athletes off campus. This is commonly referred to as a 'home visit', even though the visit can occur at a high school, club volleyball facility, etc.

While many folks correctly feel that a Home Visit is the in-person effort of a college coach to 'sell' their college volleyball program to the PSA and family, it is also an opportunity for a coach to get a better feel for the personality of a PSA. Experienced coaches have learned that attitude can compliment or decimate physical talent.

Home Visits have been devalued in recent years because of the communication advances in the Internet age and ability of PSA's to take Unofficial Visits to a few campuses during their Junior year of High School. While a Home Visit may occur with a PSA who has already committed, it is more of a courtesy visit.

Outside of the top tier of the current recruiting class, a number of PSA's will experience a Home Visit and should be prepared. A few suggestions to make the most of a Home Visit:

1. Be prepared by having a list of questions and write this list down. Make sure that parent questions are on the list, whether they are asked by the PSA or parents. It may seem uncool or silly to have a written list of questions, but it is viewed by the college coach as being prepared and sincerely interested in his or her college. Some questions that should/could be asked:

- If a scholarship has not been offered, where exactly does the PSA stand on list of recruits?
- If a scholarship has been offered, does this scholarship extend for 4 years, 4 years and a certain number of summer sessions, 5 years or 5 years and a certain number of summer sessions? This is very important because each major has a different number of classes to complete for graduation - If the PSA has a cumbersome major and the school only funds 4 years of a scholarship, the family could be stuck with a 5 year academic bill from the school.
- What are the housing and eating options for freshman year and beyond? These can vary dramatically between schools.
- What specific academic support is available? Some athletic departments carry all of their academic support 'in-house' while others offer support only through the academic departments.
- What happens if the PSA gets hurt while playing? What is the protocol for treating injuries? What happens if the PSA gets hurt between a verbal commitment and signing the National Letter of Intent? Tough questions but ones that must be asked.

2. Expect the coach to bring academic brochures, current and/or past media guides, department athletic information, a highlight video and school academic information video. If this is not the case, then ask.

3. Don't worry about feeding the coach. An offer of some water/ice tea/soft drinks is a nice gesture. Remember that the coach will have a recruiting budget and this a nice excuse to go out and have a very good meal at a great restaurant in town.

4. If asked, be specific about where you stand in the recruiting process. Let the coach know where their school stands on your list, your time frame for making a decision and your preferences when evaluating programs/schools.

5. If you are interested in the program, ask about making arrangements for an unofficial or official visit so you can see the campus (if you have not already).

On the flip side of this list of recommendations, a few Home Visit killers that I have seen or heard about:

1. Falling asleep while the college coach is talking.
2. Answering your cell phone or taking calls.
3. The coach answering his/her cell phone or taking calls.
4. Not talking or having your parents do all the talking.
5. Yawning endlessly.
6. Having an overly excited pet trying to get to know the coach.
7. Leaving the conversation to go outside and play with friends.
8. Being abrasive or dismissive towards your parents.

While the coach is going to being doing their best to answer your questions and to 'sell' you on their school, they are also looking to see what type of a person you are. Are you respectful towards your folks/family? Do you ask good questions or just hang out? Are you paying attention or zoning out?

I will be the first to say that most of my home visits have not resulted in a PSA eventually committing to my school, which is understandable because of reaching beyond the volleyball reputation of my program. But, I will also relate that I have eliminated many good players after a home visit because I would not want them within my program after seeing what I saw on my visit.

Good luck and if you are a Junior or older, please don't hesitate to shoot me a question.