September 4, 2008

The Reason for this Site - Recruiting Question

A question from a reader that illustrates why I started this website:

Hello. I am Rosa and I am a junior attending a Christian high school in Illinois. For English I am to write a term paper on volleyball coaching. The information you provided is very helpful. Thank you. There is a volleyball team I participate in and I love it! We have a very limited amount of players though. One question... Is it possible for me to get onto a good team for college volleyball even though I am from a small Christian school and not well known? The sport is just so much fun for me and all of the techniques and skills I want to get to my maximum performance while in high school. If you can get me some good resources or tell me something that will help, please do! Again thank you for what you already have said in the articles on the website.
Sincerely In Christ,

Rosa is the reason that I started this website. With the large number of summer camps that I do for high schools, I constantly came across solid volleyball players that would have loved to try and play volleyball at the next level, but they really had no idea how to go about achieving this goal. Not everyone has the financial resources or geographic location to participate upon a club program, but that does not disqualify them from having the motivation to wish to maximize their volleyball abilities. I sincerely want my website to provide some direction and encouragement to those players who want to play volleyball in college.

To answer Rosa's question, YES it is absolutely possible for you to get onto a good team for college. By the information within your question, I would guess that you are not participating upon a top flight high school program nor a big time club program. The key is to get your name out to college volleyball programs, but before you do that, you must take an honest look at your abilities and determine what level of college volleyball is best for you.

If you are a 5'7" outside hitter with solid ball control skills and an approach touch of 9'2", then contacting Big 10 schools is not the best use of your time. If you are not able to play club volleyball and are still rapidly developing your overall skill sets, then a league such as the Missouri Valley will probably be out of your abilities at this time. Something along the lines of a Junior College or Division II or III program may be the best fit.

There are a couple of ways to gain a 'honest' evaluation of your abilities; 1) Ask an adult who has experience within volleyball - this may be your current coach, a coach of a rival team, a parent who has a daughter(s) playing college volleyball; someone who has an understanding of the athletic nature needed to play at the next level. 2) Go to college volleyball matches. As simple as this sounds, go to a Big 10 match, go watch a couple of mid-major volleyball teams play, find a Division II and Division III school in your area and see what those players look like when they play volleyball.

It was not until I actually watched a Division I volleyball match that I gained a true evaluation of my skills. I was not able to play Club Volleyball and my development was accomplished while playing in adult leagues. It was not until I saw a college volleyball match that I was able to see 12 players on the court who were near to my age; this allowed me to realize that I did have the ability to play at a certain level. Please do the same - If you walk into a gym and are just blown away by the athleticism of the teams, then this level may be a bit above you. Conversely, if you watch a match and think you could be out on the court now playing with them, this should should be your base level of ability.

Once you determine, as best you can, your ability level, promote yourself aggressively to that level. By aggressively, I don't mean to 'stalk' the coaches and programs, but rather to contact as many applicable programs as possible - it is much like fishing, put as many lines in the water as you can.

As a Junior, I would encourage you to read one of my previous posts, Recruiting Plan - Junior Year. This should provide some direction about how to pursue your goals. The Reader's Digest version is that you need to contact as many programs as applicable and get video out to them quickly. This is one of those situations where the old saying 'A picture is worth a thousands words' is correct. With this charge of marketing yourself, you have two choices - Do it yourself or pay a service to do it for you.

There are a bunch of recruiting services, and again, I have a previous post about them that I would strongly encourage you to read - some are good and some are a waste of trees.

If you do it your self, please review my post on marketing yourself to colleges - it is not hard, but takes some perseverance and time. College volleyball program e-mail/postal address contact information is readily available online - sometimes the easiest way is to start by visiting the NCAA web page and link to Women's Volleyball; at this area there should be links to each Division (I, II, III) along with conferences within each division. Don't forget about Junior College programs or non-NCAA Volleyball programs like the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics - these are great options for when NCAA volleyball teams may not be the best fit for your future.

To close, my best guess is well over over 1,500 colleges and universities offer volleyball programs - If you are willing to work for it and willing to have an open mind about type and location of school, then there is one out there for you.