February 3, 2010

College Volleyball Recruiting Response from Coaches

Hello Coach -- My daughter is a high school junior. She and I appreciate your site, since it is really a terrific aid and presents a realistic outlook for those of us -- girls and their parents -- new to the possibility of playing at the collegiate level.

This is a real practical question. If a player does not get a fairly quick response from a coach who has been sent a letter of interest from the player, which also includes basic background and skills, game and team performance and scholastic information, should we assume that there is no interest from that program? Will coaches or programs typically just ignore a player's letter of interest? My daughter has not yet forwarded a skills video, and will do so soon, but she is an accomplished player in very strong high school and club programs, and is a top student as well.

About half of the ten coaches she contacted responded, the others did not.

Is it silly or just a waste of time to make a call or reach out again to these programs which have not replied, and is it worthwhile to send them a skills video if there is no response after a few weeks following the letter to the coach? We realize that the coaches and their staffs are busy, but if no response means no interest, we will take the hint and move on to the coaches who responded. Will a skills video change the way her letter is viewed by the coaches?

Maybe these are really naïve questions from an uniformed mom, but my player is looking for some guidance. Thanks again -- Sel

This is a very good question and I think would reflect upon any number of families going through the craziness of college volleyball recruiting.

As I lead up to answering your question(s), there are a few things which VolleyFolks (I really need to sell t-shirts on my site!) should keep in mind:

1) There are huge variances in support for NCAA Volleyball programs. Some are fully staffed with two full time assistant coaches, a graduate assistant and a director of operations; others are trying to accomplish the same tasks with one low paid assistant coach (who must work club volleyball to make ends meet). In addition, all too many College Volleyball programs may not have access to a secretary.

2) The administrative details of operating a NCAA Volleyball program are tedious and time consuming, easily taking up way too much of the day with a small staff - Practice logs, academic progress report reviews, team travel authorization, recruiting travel authorizations, team travel post competition expense reports, recruiting travel expense reports, prospective student athlete observation/evaluation logs, practice and competition facility requests for fall and spring seasons, hotel accommodation contracts and direct bill paperwork, campus vehicle requests, unofficial visit paperwork, official visit paperwork and expense reports and student host forms, ......

3) The Fall is a sprint from August to Thanksgiving, 10 days of recruiting, then shut down mode until after the New Year. Before we know it, the recruiting dead/quiet period is over and our college players are already back on campus!!! By mid-January, we are back into full recruiting mode for the never ending next recruit and we need to keep trying to make our players better by group training, conditioning and lifting. We go at this pace, which at times can be more chaotic than the fall because volleyball programs have to go around basketball or bounce into campus recreation facilities to get court time - On top of this, comes the unofficial visits of the Junior class. Come May, we get to slow down a bit with the quiet period and the spring semester ending. That wonderful time of nice weather, no recruiting and no players ends all too quick, and with the 23 National Championship events in club volleyball, the recruiting efforts ramp right back up in June!

With this rant out of the way, let's get to the questions:

- Don't sweat it too much if you don't receive a quick response from a coach/program. Depending on the time of year, things can get busy, especially for small staff (not small like a staff of former Liberos). Even though recruiting is paramount, the business of running a college volleyball program can get in the way.

- Sometimes snail mail is delayed or lost (remember it goes from the US Postal Service to Campus Mail Service). E-mails come pouring through the campus e-mail server and unfortunately, this server is not always 100%.

- With the time demands on coaches, I am not too sure how many programs will respond to letters if there is no interest. In a perfect world, you would hope to receive some type of response/acknowledgment, but then again, I have applied for many, many jobs and did not receive a courtesy e-mail or letter when the job was filled by another applicant. If I had to wager a quarter, I would say introductory letters just get recycled (I hope, let's save some trees) by the volleyball program, if there is no interest.

- I would not mail a video to those schools which did not respond to introductory letters, but I would take the time to shoot of an e-mail with a video link (Youtube) on the possibility that your letter did not find its way to the coach. E-mails are free (as opposed to mailing out videos) and better to give it one more go - As I have written previously, coaches will always look at video.

- 5 out of 10 is a good response rate, considering the overwhelming number of club volleyball players and how accelerated the recruiting time frames are today.

- I would not make a follow up call because the letter has not arrived or is of no interest, but definitely send a video or video link.

- The reality is that what is on paper gives a very, very limited perspective on a PSA. Sure, we can see height, weight, position and statistics, but we can't see if the PSA can pass, do they broad jump, do they close the block or drift on their three step movement, etc. Video is always, always, always better to send and I suggest that the first, let me say that again, the first contact made with a college volleyball program should be with a video (unless you are playing for super stellar juniors and have been getting the introductory letter and questionnaire from all the greatest schools in the country since you were a freshman in high school).

- If there is no response, after providing a video or video link to a college volleyball program, then it is time to move on - Don't chase what is not there, but rather focus upon those programs which have expressed interest and fall within the parameters of potential colleges/universities.

- Again, a letter is of marginal impact, while the video is key; so, yes, a video will definitely impact the information of an introductory letter.

All of these questions were very good and I believe you are going about the process correctly - Make contact, give it a second chance and then move forward.

I caution any player or parent from taking this initial process too personally - The introductory or opening contact stage is just about exchanging information. If a program does not respond, after a couple of contact attempts, then they have just let you know they are not interested (and it may be something as simple as they don't need to recruit a setter in the 2011 class).

Good luck!


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