Our twin daughters have been playing Junior Olympic ball since the age of 12, and are now going into their 16 JO season. Both (a setter and a libero) are very interested in playing in college. Both are ‘gym rats’ that would play 7-days a week if possible.
While I am sure this question depends not only on the Division, but also the conference, can you give us an idea as to the time commitment athletes have both in-season and out of season (e.g. # hours per week)?
I was having a discussion with a small DIII coach, and learned that 5 of her players did not return this season and in general they lose 2-3 Juniors or Seniors each season (even though they stay in school). Is this common in lower level DIII schools?
My daughters are very strong academically, and are getting a lot of interest from Emory and Washington University in St. Louis. However, the libero is interested in a larger school and a DI status. Liberos seem to be last on the list for some coaches... Any hints on getting her noticed more?
Thank you and have a great holiday!!!!! S.B.
The NCAA has rules dictating the number of hours allowed for in-season and out of season training.
During the Traditional Season (this is the time period in which the NCAA holds its championship) the NCAA allows for 20 hours of activity. This includes all practice, weight lifting, films, competition, conditioning, etc. But, the NCAA says all competitions will be noted as 3 hours (no matter how long the actual match or warm-up activities), this does not include any pre-practice/pre-match needs like rehab or seeing the trainer to get ready, and this amount does not include travel time.
For Women's Volleyball, there are two segments for the out of season time frame. There is the Individual/Group time, which the NCAA allows up to a total of 8 hours of activity with no limits as to the number of players which may participate. Secondly, there is the Non-Traditional season which, is an approximate 6 week segment which includes 4 dates of competition and the participation hourly limit is 20. These two segments tend to run from January to later April. On both of these off season segments, the hourly limits will caputure on court training, conditioning, lifting, meetings, films, etc.
Because of the framework of the various seasons, aggressive volleyball coaches can have their team in training environments from before the start of the fall semester, a few weeks off for Christmas, then training again from the first day of the Spring Semester until the start of Finals. Also, with the trend in the power conferences now mimicking basketball, summer school is becoming "mandated volunteer" which will see the players in lifting, conditioning and "open" gym time throughout the summer months.
Back to your hourly questions. The largest in-season time commitments are to be seen in the DI ranks because of the philosophy (win, win and win) and because of the travel time (conference road trips can be 5 day affairs for two matches). It can easily go into 50+ hours a week (20 for practice/matches et al, 10 for training room, and 5 day road trips). DII is less time because the season is shorter, and the road trips are shorter. DIII, by the philosophy of the division, should entail the least amount of time commitment, but coaches are coaches and will maximize hourly availability in a effort to win.
Out of season hours are the shortest with the 8 hour limit, but again, coaches will maximize these 8 hours and will fudge the start and end times to stretch these 8 hours into a few more. When the 6 weeks of spring season (to use a common term) arrive, then the large time commitment will re-emerge, but the travel time will be less since current rules say no missed class time for a spring season match/tourney.
As an FYI, the NCAA has legislation in the works to eliminate Non-Traditional season competition, which may/will impact the practice routines during the off season.
Within the DIII ranks, or for that matter at elite level institutions, having players stop athletic participation as they enter upper-classmen status is not surprising. Classes take up so much more time, that it is hard to balance elite level athletics and elite level academics. For DIII, the players are not on any type of athletically related scholarship, so there is no financial penalty to stopping athletics. If anything, there is a financial penalty for not excelling academically.
For Liberos, you just have to keep pounding on doors and keep working on skills. Liberos are the last in line when it comes to college volleyball opportunities because there is a huge supply and limited demand. Don't get too focused on recruiting, and lose sight of developing skills. Talent will ultimately be the catalyst for opportunity.