November 11, 2011

PSA Age and Club/Recruiting Decision

Hey Coach…Love the book, the whole family is reading it.

Got a dilemma that I am hoping you can help us all out on. If your child is a late born (Sep 2- Dec 31) it creates an interesting situation that seems to grow larger as they get to high school. Their age allows them to play “down” in club ball but their grade level means they play with girls who can be 1-2 years older and that 1-2 years can be a lot in terms of their physical development. The dilemma comes in that they are very competitive in club ball playing with girls their true age but not as much in school ball but school ball or rather school graduation year drives their potential college decision making.
The questions:
  1. If you were to advise a parent with a decision to “repeat” a grade to allow their late born to compete with girls more their age would you do so?
  2. Would you advise the child to play club ball at their “age” level or their “school” level- point being if a child ends up graduating never playing higher than 17U how would you as a college coach look at that?
  3. Red shirts. It seems like a child in this situation is perfect for the red shirt concept but as a coach do you look at kids for their potential as a red shirt?
  4. Does the red shirt situation come about because of these type situations or other situations like you have too many players?
  5. Should a child tell potential college coaches up front that they understand because of their young age at graduation that they would like an opportunity to red shirt hoping that college coaches could see value in taking them on knowing that it will pay off a year later?
  6. How does the money work in a red shirt situation?
Coach, really appreciate the time and thought this one will take……
Dazed and Confused
Thank you for the compliments on Inside College Volleyball.  I figure since Volleyball Monthly has given it a positive review, that the New York Times book section is next!!!
I have received a few questions in the past about age/school year for PSA's and how it affects recruiting.  I can't remember if I properly 'tagged' each post, but you might consider doing a Search on the topic; Search Box is lower left on the page.  
Let me jump into your questions:

1.  For high school, I would not have a PSA repeat a grade just to get with her age group for Volleyball.  If she were to repeat a grade, it should be because of academic or social development.  High school volleyball is diminishing in its importance within the recruiting process.

2.  For determining here club age group, you should consider her position and how she physically/ability compares.  For instance, if she is a Libero, then age group has a lessor impact than for a Middle Blocker.  If she is competing and holding her own, in her Volleyball position with her school year age group (playing up, so to speak), then I would just keep it the same.  If she is not keeping up, and compares more favorably with her true age group, then consider moving her down.  The key is talent and sometimes not comparable talent (if she has elite level skills, then these will stand out no matter if she is playing next to our Olympic Team or Waimanalo Juniors).

3.  Tough call on the redshirt per-determination. We, the almighty college coaches, tend to only look at recruiting a potential first year redshirt when we know that we will have an abundance of seniors in their position when they arrive or that the player is raw but has a huge upside.  I would not go into the process with that mentality, but rather go in with the mindset to compete and play ASAP.

4.  Redshirt decisions usually occur because of upperclassmen garnering significant playing time and the coach does not want to 'burn' a year of eligibility for just a couple of matches in a player's freshman year.  The other component is redshirting because of injury.  Also, coaches want to see exactly what a player can bring to the court and are hesitant to per-determine redshirting because we may be surprised how good an incoming player is or surprised how poorly a returning player arrived to campus.

5.  No - Don't discuss redshirting until a few weeks of the pre-season practice has gone by.  Get into college, go through the pre-season training and get a feel for the opportunities and challenges specific to that season before conversing about redshirting.

6.  From a scholarship perspective, nothing should change for a redshirt year.  Do not accept or allow a coach to say that since your PSA is redshirting, they will not be receiving scholarship support and then will receive it once they are eligible to play.  If a coach wants to do this, this I would be very hesitant to have my daughter play or continue with this program.  A redshirt year is an investment year for the college program to eventually have the services of a 5th year senior, which in college volleyball is like gold.

After reading your questions, I strongly encourage you to alter your outlook.  Do not focus on the age of your PSA, but rather emphasize the ability.  Ability will garner collegiate playing opportunities, nothing more or less.  While you are aware of age, college coaches are not that deep and only want to look at talent.  We can project talent (or so we think) and we can hope a player develops, but the last thing we will do is justify lack of talent because of age.

Encourage your PSA to keep improving, to keep working hard and to keep reaching out to potential schools.  This will be the key to finding the perfect future, communication and talent.


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