January 3, 2012

NCAA Volleyball Time Commitments

Thanks for providing such an informative site. Now that you are no longer a D1 coach I hope I can ask this question. My dd is a very tall 15 year old on the top JO team at a well known club. Both her club coach and her high school coach have gotten calls from D1 programs inquiring about her; all signs seem to point that she could play D1, the question is does she want to. She wants to play in college but would like to know the lifestyle differences between D1, D2, and D3. It sounds like there are even differences between the time commitment required between top, and lower D1 programs. She is trying to come up with a list of possible schools and it would be helpful to know what the college experience might be like between all three levels.

I wish you much success with you new career path, you are helping so many families trying to navigate this process. We have been warned that we're going to have a crazy year and it's nice to have a place to learn this process.  T.M.

Great question and I compliment you and your VolleyPSA for not blindly following the bright lights of NCAA Division I.  I hope to get a full answer up with the end of the Holidays, but could only shoot you the Reader's Digest version for now.

1. DI Elite is 11 months a year commitment with about 2.5 weeks of at Christmas and 1.5 weeks off at the end of the Spring Semester. Summer school is mandatory to physically train and play pick up games. The Traditional Season and Non-Traditional (spring) season is very scheduled, with the 20 hour per week maximized (and exceeded) always.

2. DI mid major is rapidly going the path of DI Elite just because so many copy the elite programs as to try to be successful.

3. DI lower is hit or miss. Many of them have a bit more balance, don't go gonzo on physical training, don't go crazy in the off season and don't travel as much for matches.

4. NCAA Division II is a mix of time commitments, per the dictates (craziness) of the coach; but as the season is generally shorter, and the spring season a bit more restricted, the DII athletes have a more traditional or old school definitional of collegiate athletics. I will say that the one year I coached DII was great because travel was minimal, training time was reduced, no crazy film sessions, the season is shorter and I honestly felt me and the players had a much more balanced life (compared to the DI positions I have had).

5. NCAA Division III is focused on academics and the collegiate experience, and athletic participation is just one component of the school's educational philosophy. DIII is the category for the VolleyPSA who wants academics as the focus, but enjoys competitive volleyball.

In a nutshell, in DI, Volleyball will be the main and overwhelming focus of college life, DII can have a great balance, while DIII believes athletics is a component of the collegiate experience.


  1. Coach,

    My daughter was in a similar situation to this post (receiving college interest but not sure if she wanted the pressure of Division I vb). We found the perfect fit with an NAIA school. NAIA appears to me to be similar to NCAA Division II from a scholarship standpoint (8 total scholarships for fully funded programs). If your daughter is getting DI attention, a full NAIA scholarship would be VERY likely. If a NAIA school offers the majors she is looking for and have a solid vb program, you should definitely look into them.

    My advice to you and your daughter would be this. Pick schools for the academics she wants first and then see if they are interested in her from a volleyball standpoint. She and you will be much happier in the long run with this approach.

  2. I read both the question and response and am very please to hear "Coach" mentioning the balance both he and his players felt when he coached at the DII level. That is the identity campaign that DII promotes and, as a former player and current coach at that level, I couldn't see it any other way. I've had a great deal of success at DII and been questioned why I don't jump to the bright lights of DI. I think the answer the parent received sums it up perfectly. Thanks for trying to keep things in perspective and to get people to think about what they want instead of jumping just because it is DI.


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