November 27, 2010

Club Volleyball - Is Bigger Better?


My Junior daughter is a two sport athlete, volleyball and basketball. Basketball does conflict early in the club volleyball season. Two years ago she was on a nice club team but the club folded and we found another club. That club did not like basketball players on the better teams. We are looking for a good fit this year and considering a local smaller club.

Does the size of the club or the club reputation have any bearing in the recruiting process?

Thanks - J.S.

This is a good question with no solid, set in stone answer - I would say they both have an influence upon the recruiting process with the size of the club is not as important as the reputation of the club.

A club which is considered large, usually has all the allowed age group teams and multiple teams per age group. One would believe that this should translate into elite level top teams and competitive additional age group teams. But, this belief depends completely on the quality of players which try out for this club - I have seen big clubs which have a number of teams, yet the teams/players are not elite. Conversely, there are some great little club teams (in terms of number of age groups/teams supported) which routinely produce elite level players.

The large club organizations offer the opportunity for college coaches to see a bunch of players when we are able to swing by a practice day and we also know to slot time to go see these bigger club's teams early in the club tournament season, if we are not 'local' enough to attend practice, just because of the sheer volume of players. This recruiting draw is something which large clubs provide for their players.

Even in consideration of club size, I think that reputation is more important - Quality over Quantity. There are some great volleyball clubs which can only sponsor a couple of total teams. But, they enjoy quality incoming players year in and year out, along with doing a fantastic job of training their teams. These small, good reputation clubs also will be on the 'to-see' list of early club tournaments for college volleyball coaches.

I would caution VolleyFamilies from stressing out if they are not able to be with a large club team (either through location or politics) believing it would negatively affect college recruiting opportunities.

Two areas which I suggest VolleyFamilies focus upon is Training and Travel when considering club opportunities.

Training - The longer that I am in this crazy world of college volleyball (and recruiting) the more I appreciate club teams which effectively train their players and cringe at those which do not. College volleyball is the next level, it is the highest possible level of team play in the USA (Olympic team excepted) and being able to have incoming players already on the way to this elite play is important. The escalater to this next level is the club team - the effective training by the club team will allow the quicker transition of the PSA to college volleyball. Conversely, poor training can easily result in the freshman year being a catch up year versus a jump up year. It is important that VolleyFamilies remember that the 18's club can/should be the transition segment to college volleyball - Try to view how the 18's teams train, how are the practice sessions set up, how much do they scrimmage versus drill, etc.

Travel - By this I mean, what is the tournament schedule of the club? Big or small club should not determine the tournament schedule philosophy of the club. This schedule will largely dictate the opportunity of being seen by college volleyball coaches. If a club team, from a large club or just a one team club, is only playing a limited schedule dominated by small regional tournaments their players will not be seen as much as a team which competes in the larger national tournaments. College coaches will be out in force at the large, national tournaments ALWAYS. This allows us to see many, many players from an effective financial perspective. Of course there are good players at the small, regional tourneys but our limited recruiting budget (and even the big time programs are still constrained by budgets) hinders our ability to attend such tourneys. With this in mind, choosing a club which presents the tournament opportunities to be seen by college coaches is important in consideration of college volleyball recruiting.

Good luck!

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