May 4, 2009

Does this Uniform make me look tall?

Kids these days sure do grow up fast:

It seems like the standard has become to add 2 inches to a player's true height to list them on a roster or elsewhere. I routinely stand next to player who are shorter than I am but who are listed as being taller than I am.
I have a daughter who is exactly 5'10" in her bare feet. In her shoe's she measures right around 5'11 1/2". She has been told by her coach that she should list herself at 6' because "that's the standard" - that you're supposed to "round up." Well, we ain't doing it. I get the "measured in shoes" thing, sort of - it's how tall they are when they're actually playing the game.
As a college coach and recruiter, what do you think about this? How many times do you see PSA's who are obviously inflating their height? I guess the same question goes for "vertical jump inflation."
Thanks as always for your insightful and informative blog.


This is something which college coaches tend to get a good chuckle about - the height on the paper versus the height which we see on the court. As coaches, we have gotten rather adept at guesstimating a player's height. I will usually put a note next to the height column on my scout sheets just to confirm or adjust what was provided by the recruit.

I had one player on my team which 'upped' her height by at least 3 inches on her recruiting material. When she became an assistant, we would joke about recruits - "Where they really 5'11" or where they Mary 5'11" (i.e. 5'8")". When I asked her why she elevated her height in the recruiting material, she said she did not want to be negated as a potential recruit because she was not the average height for outside hitters.

To an extent, this true. College coaches have become so height driven that I feel club coaches and parents are 'rounding' up at any opportunity as to not disqualify Prospective Student-Athletes from getting a look. Would I have made the effort to go see Mary if she would have listed her true height on the initial information she sent me? Probably, but it would not have been at the top of my list. Conversely, if Mary was really 5'11" and was not very good, height would not have mattered one bit to me. I recruited Mary because she was an excellent player with a great attitude.

As recruiters, we tend to build in a 1" to 2" cushion onto all of the recruiting information which is sent to us. I don't think there is any harm in measuring height with shoes on, because this is what the actually playing height reflects. Yet, folks should be careful when they start rounding up beyond that. Again, coaches are rather good about determining height and you can come off with a bit of a poorer first impression when your fudging your height 2+ inches.

With as much of a critical eye which coaches use upon the statement of height, it becomes double for any vertical jump measurements. This is one area upon which PSA's tend to inflate the numbers. When we see 5'11" players listing a 9'9" approach touch, that can be hard to believe. In general, I have just stopped looking at approach or block numbers on recruiting information and focus upon how a player performs.

Don't be afraid as a PSA to list your shoe height and correctly list your approach and block touch numbers. If anything, you want to make a surprising impression with your abilities, rather than average impression. I would rather have a true 5'9" OH with tremendous skills blow me away, than an 5'11" OH just be another average player which I am evaluating.

For many years, and it may be still true, some of the toughest outside hitters in the country were the 5'9" OH's from southern California. I know for a fact, that a number of Midwest and east coast programs will not schedule no-name California schools because they don't want to take a loss against these type of players and against a school their AD may comprehend the volleyball abilities. It is OK to drop a match to UCLA, but losing to UC Irvine does not look too cool to those administrators at UpsideDown State University.

The reason the SoCal 5'9" OH's are so tough is because they are tough volleyball players. They can't rely on height and to be successful in a region of the country where there exists many, many good volleyball players, these 5'9" OH's have to become very skilled. They don't look like anything great (not like watching some monster in a Nebraska or Texas uniform walk by), but they can all pass, play defense, hit smart and play smart.

Another example is the U. of Hawaii. Of course they routinely have their share of monsters (and I mean monsters in a complimentary way), but they also have any number of very good, well rounded, smaller outside hitters. When I say smaller, I mean smaller in terms of where they finished the season ranked in the national polls. The Hawaii players are the complete package, just like the southern California players.

I really believe that if you round up too much, anything beyond your shoes and your actual jump touches, you are just setting yourself up to make a poor impression. I would rather have a player write me and say, "Hi, I am 5'8", but I am awesome!!!". That is someone I will make an effort to see!