February 10, 2011

Control the Timing of Volleyball Recuiting

I wanted to thank you for your advice and your articles. I appreciate the advice and have enjoyed reading your articles. I wrote to you early last fall, my daughter's junior year, asking advice about making an early commitment and the pressure that she was receiving from many schools to commit on their schedules.

She followed your advice, set her own deadline for a decision. The school that she had felt was the best fit offered later in the fall, and she still waited for her deadline and even several weeks past, wanting to make sure that there were no questions about her decision. Without your unbiased input, I am afraid that she may have fallen to the high pressure of some of the coaches.

She is now committed to a top 20 school and happy about her decision. The decision was based more on the fit of the school, the volleyball program, the team and the coach, (in that order) not the ranking or the conference and definitely not from pressure and salesmanship of the coaches.
Now that the club season has begun, we can sit back away from the insanity and panic of players and parents who are not committed. We are glad that the decision is past and her entire focus is on playing the game and enjoying it, and happy that she didn't fall to the high pressure that many of the coaches presented to make a decision based on their needs and not hers. C.C.

Congratulations on your daughter finding a school and Volleyball program in which she is happy about. And, I would also congratulate you for having your daughter establish the timing for her recruiting process. All too often, VolleyFamilies fall victim to the misguided belief that they have to operate on the time frames dictated by college coaches.

I strongly encourage all VolleyFamilies to determine at what speed they wish to play the game of recruiting. Even though it may well seem like you do not control what happens, you actually do. Your daughter's decision of yes/no with any College Volleyball program makes this so. VolleyFamilies may feel they are captives of which schools offer scholarships or roster sports, but I feel this is an exaggeration.

Any PSA is going to recruited at a level which is reflective of her abilities. A player does not have the power to instantly jump up her skill sets from a playing level reflective of Tumbleweed State to one mandating that Stanford is flashing the recruiting smile while parked on her court. There may be a wide range of options, in terms of interested College Volleyball programs for a PSA, but they will usually stay within defined limits. With this in mind, the courting colleges should be similar in Volleyball attributes. This is important to realize because if one college coach presents a timed scholarship offer (one which can/will be pulled off the table at a predetermined date), there are many other viable replica programs.

I have witnessed an almost dyslexic behavior when it comes to the influence of scholarship offer timing with PSA's. Early in the recruiting process (the 16's and early 17's year) is when VolleyFamilies are easily swayed by the salesmanship pressure of college coaches who time the scholarship offer (either with a pre-set date or referencing another PSA which will be offered), and make an early, an all too often, not perfect decision to commit. Conversely, late in the process (late in the 18's year) when the scholarship opportunities are dwindling and a VolleyFamily has been offered, there is a fear of jumping off the diving board to accept a good situation and this delay, all too often, leads to a scholarship being taken by another PSA! It should be just the opposite; delay early in the process, move forward late.

We all have an inner voice which we would do well to listen too. In reviewing decisions which I have made, those which turned out negative, many times I did not listen to my inner voice saying "don't". I made poor decisions, life and Volleyball, for which my inner voice was nowhere to be heard, so that inner radio may not always be on, but when it is, please listen to it. When your inner voice or your PSA's inner voice is saying to wait, then wait.

As VolleyParents, make sure you are the 'outer' voice for your PSA. You cannot and should not make the decision, but you have to be the wise council. A 16 year old should not be expected to digest all the significant information which reflects the choice of a college/university education and College Volleyball - they are not even halfway done with their high school education!

This 'outer' voice can be casual, it can be formal, it can be over back yard burgers or sitting in traffic, but keep up a dialogue of the recruiting process. If anything, just getting your PSA to verbalize what is going in her head is a positive. This will allow you to see/understand those areas which are important to her and to gently guide a review about her possible choices. Hopefully your radar has been on for all club tournaments, emails and Unofficial Visits which will allow you to see the positives and negatives of each opportunity.

By establishing the speed (and I strongly encourage going slower), you establish some control over the review process of recruiting. Do not hesitate to communicate the recruiting timing you will be operating under to your club director/coach, along with prospective college programs. There is nothing wrong, and everything right, with letting folks know that your PSA is going to take her time, will be visiting a number of schools, does not anticipate making a decision until well into the spring, etc.

If a scholarship offer is pulled in the 16's or early 17's season, then that school was just hoping for an early catch. There are many fish in the recruiting sea for College Volleyball coaches and we have many lines in the water. VolleyFamilies must become perfectly comfortable before taking their one bite.

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