March 30, 2012

Hello Coach,

Listened to your webinar last night - first time I've interacted with you - and I really thought I got a lot out of it. Thank you!

You mentioned your website, and I've been going through it today - lots more good stuff!

My daughter is a Sophomore. She has been mostly training the past few years to be a setter, and is doing really well in that position. We don't live in a huge volleyball area, so the club teams she played on the first four years were pretty low-level with no national tournaments to speak of. This year she was determined to get on an Elite team that went to Nationals and other big events. She achieved her goal - obtaining a position on an Elite team, but was placed on the 2's team although she did not think that's where her skills lined up. 

We understand the concept of earning your spot, so she's been working hard, hoping that next year she would have the chance to move up. The team practices out of a college that's over an hour's drive and in the next state over. Because my daughter is 5'7", I knew height might begin to factor in and I listed her on the tryout form as a DS/Libero and Setter candidate. She played DS on Varsity last year since the coach felt inclined to play the Senior setter who had been waiting 3 years for Varsity time even though she told my daughter she had the better hands. She was designated as Libero on the Elite team.

So, she's been playing Libero and has had some ups and some downs, but seems to be holding her own while not playing any perfect games.  By this I mean that the setter rarely will go after a ball that is not perfectly passed to her. The coaches support her in this type of play in that they tell the passers that if the setter has to move more than 1 step the passer is at fault. It seems like some of the more difficult passes (a strongly hit ball, a weird angle or spin) could cause a less than perfect pass but is still a good play for the passer if it goes up and remains within the court.

How are these things scored - when would a passing error be recorded - is it any time the setter didn't get to the ball or is only when a ball is missed or shanked? I feel badly for my daughter because there are many times she uses great reflexes and anticipation to get to balls, puts them in the air, perhaps to middle front instead of the corner and gets chewed out because nobody went for the set. It bothers her moreso because she always feels that this type of negative/dramatic reaction will hurt her chances to return much less move up even though she still feels good about her level of play. 

I am in the process of scheduling 1 on 1 lessons for my daughter so she can hear from a specialist what things she does wrong and what she can improve and how to do it.  I am setting up both Libero and Setting lessons.

Is there anything else she can do in the meantime? She needs to make a good showing this year (Sophomore) in club and in her next Varsity season for a strong college choice (we think/hope).  V.K.

Glad you enjoyed the NCSA webinar and please note that I have written extensively about recruiting in my Inside College Volleyball book!

Answer me this one question - What position does your daughter enjoy playing the most?  Setter or Libero?  Because of the physical characteristics and position(s) of your daughter, she will be a on a slower path in the recruiting and then committing process.

By the end of this spring, she needs to pick the one position she enjoys playing the most. Then, she needs to go full tilt into developing her skills to the fullest and pursue her collegiate playing goals within this most enjoyable position.  

I constantly remind VolleyFamilies that college coaches are not so much interested in the club team, but are extremely interested in the club player.  We are evaluating that one PSA, and not the team or the other players who we are not recruiting.  We know if a PSA is playing well or poorly, completely outside of the other players.  So, if your VolleyPSA makes a good dig to the center of the court and everybody else goes to sleep, we can see that she made a good dig which is all we evaluate.  Encourage your daughter to play to the best of her abilities, to display a positive and supportive attitude with her team, and to keep the focus on what she can control (which is not the ability or effort or coaching philosophy of others).

As a Libero or 5'7" setter, she statistically will not commit early in the recruiting process but would secure her collegiate opportunity as a senior.  This is just what I have ascertained after doing this for so long.  To this end, the Junior year is your primary outreach year, the late junior spring summer, where you would look to make some unofficial visits, then duplicate this outreach efforts going into your senior year of club.

Bottom line, she needs to pick her favorite position because this will allow her to play at a higher level, then you need to work the process to reach out to a maximum number of potential schools.  Liberos (and setters) need to be patiently aggressive in their recruiting efforts.

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