This is a very good question about Club Volleyball age groups and recruiting.
Hi Coach, In your article called Club Volleyball Championship Play you said that the 16's are where the recruiters focus. You said, "How does this relate to a current club player? Well, for simplicity's sake, we will skip over the 18's level and those 17's age that have accepted an offer or have a few offers on the table." I am a female Junior in high school who will be 16 this fall. Last year I played on the top 15's squad. Our club director has told me to try out for 17's and 18's this year, so I am skipping 16's. I think I will end up on the upper 17's team, but it is possible they could put me on the 2nd 18's team. My question is: Will a 16 year old high school junior be looked at by recruiters if they are playing at the 17's (or maybe even 18's) level, skipping playing at the 16's level where recruitment is focused on by college coaches? What are your recommendations for a player to get noticed and stay noticed in this situation? Thanks coach, SY
Sy, you are in an interesting situation - your high school class is older than your age. So, even though you are by age in the 2011 recruiting class, your year in school puts you in the 2010 recruiting class (Juniors).
Because of your recruiting class, I would not suggest competeing in your age group for club (16's) - even though the majority of the initial recruiting effort (discovery and 1st impressions) are at this age group. You want to play 'up' to your graduation year simply because it allows you to complete at a more developed level and the college recruiters can directly compare you with other players in your graduation year. Of course, if you are talented, then college coaches will look to determine your age/graduation year and discover that you are playing 'down' because of your age - talent will be seen, so don't panic if you have to play 16's; just make sure all the information about you (roster, flyers, club web page, letters, e-mails, etc.) clearly illustrate you are in the 2010 graduation class.
So, what age level to play up to? I suggest the top 17's team. Again, the 16's are grabbing much of initial interest from college coaches, but many, many programs are still active in the recruiting process for the 2010 class come the spring, especially the early spring tournaments. Many times us coaches are not exactly sure what we need in the next recruiting class until the college volleyball season has come to an end. The reality is some kids don't recover from injuries and are forced to take medical waiver, some players transfer because of various reasons and some players get cut. These situations have tended to make many programs slow down the past early rush to secure the incoming classes quickly and to maybe relook at the 2010 class come the spring.
The top 17's teams from each club will still see lots of attention. Many scholarship offers could still be on the table with Prospective Student-Athletes trying to come to a decision. While the PSA's are deciding, you can be sure that the schools that have extended offers are going to be sitting on the courts and showing face time. Remember that a player may have received a number of scholarship offers, so when she makes a decision, one school is done and the remaining are re-evaluating their prospects. You could easily be in this next group of scholarship candidates because you are playing next to PSA's that are making decisions.
I would hesitate from going up to the 18's 2 team - this age group does see attention, but it is very late in the process and tends to be in emergency recruiting situations - a new coach is hired at a school and must fill a spot, a last minute situation happened where a key position went down, etc. You want to be seen early in the process and with your graduation class for proper evaluation. Again, if you get put into the 18's 2 team, don't panic - just make sure that all the information pertaining to you is correct!
Hope this helps and good luck!