November 22, 2011

Questions and Answers!

Hey Coach,

I am a mother of a very young daughter. Just for future reference, what age is appropriate for her to start playing volleyball on a team. I want to sign her up for club, but I don't want to turn her off by starting her too early. Please let me know your recommendation.

Thanks, A.W.

For a team, I would say in junior high (6th/7th grade?), either club or school.  That is a good age to get an understanding of rotating, court positions, etc.  I know with USA Volleyball, the younger ones will play on a lower net with a lighter volleyball, along with a shortened service line.

I don't think you can start players too young, but you cant start things too intense too quickly. Club at the youngest age, should be a once a week practice situation and maybe a tournament or two a month.  Just enough to develop some skills, get a tournament or two in, and keep it enjoyable.  Problems come when VolleyFamilies go too hard too soon.

But, you can start her 'playing' volleyball at any time.  I have played for as long as I can remember because my parents played on teams, so I just tagged along and played pepper when ever I could.  Simply having her touch the ball will help; toss her balls to pass, toss her balls to set, play pepper with her, encourage her to play better with her friends, if you find an open net then toss balls for her to hit or encourage her to serve - Make it fun and light now.



Thanks for the website, I really enjoy reading it and appreciate the advise you give out so willingly. My youngest daughter is in the 8th grade and a setter, and while I know you believe in keeping our options open, the degree she is interested in getting is currently only offered at 12 colleges nationwide. One of her goals is to still play volleyball in college, which narrows her choices to 10, half of the schools are DI programs and half are DII. Going off of her height probably being around 5'6" - 5'7", she would most likely be limited to the five DII schools. What would be the best way of going about her trying to be recruited to those schools? Also, with DII not being a head count sports, would her being limited to five schools keep those coaches from offering her a very big scholarship?

Thanks, S.S.

Thanks for the compliment on the site and glad it helps.

With her height, focusing on the DII avenue would probably be best.  Small setters can succeed in DI, but they are becoming an extinct species.

As to your questions, and my thoughts thrown in for good measure:

1.  Best way to be recruited by schools is to have talent.  That is obvious, but sometimes the obvious is forgotten by too many of us.  Right now, keep the focus on developing her skill sets as a setter, both physically and leadership.  Setting is such a difficult position to transition successfully to college - Many kids can play the position and set, but not many are setters.  to this end, you need to be aware of her specific club choices/teams, what camps she attends, having a good athletic/non-athletic balance, etc.

2.  Once she reaches her sophomore year, and not before, I would reach out to those schools which your daughter as identified as within her academic interest.  I would also reach out to 30 more because students always seem to change their mind when it comes to what classes they enjoy or being a certain distance away from home, etc.  Do not limit yourself to just 5 DII schools, as this creates a big challenge. 

3.  By 'reaching out', I mean send an email to the head coach/assistant coach, with all of the contact information, academic and physical information, along with a link to current video.  As a sophomore, your only intent is to get into the recruiting databases of the school so they will try to come see you; remember that NCAA rules prohibit anything more than an intro letter and questionnaire from schools until your PSA reaches 9/1 of her junior year.

4.  When the Junior year arrives, keep communicating with these potential schools.  Keep them informed of the high school season, what the club plans are, and as the club season arrives, keep them updated on tourneys, etc.  Basically, just follow the Recruiting Plan which I have tagged/linked on my website and in my book, I have updated the plan.

5.  DII is an interesting scholarship creature because of the variance of funding for Volleyball.  The DII limit is 8 athletic scholarships but many, many schools do not fund at 8.  Some may not even offer athletic scholarships, while many just have 3 to 5 available.  Of course, DII can package their scholarships to include academic, need and merit, so that does help.  Because of the lack of uniformity in the DII ranks, I could not hope to provide you an answer to the level of potential scholarship.

In closing, I strongly suggest to stay focused on skill development right now because this will have the single greatest influence upon your PSA getting noticed, recruited and the size of the scholarships offered.


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