April 30, 2012

Too Early College Volleyball Recruiting Focus

My daughter will be a freshman in high school this fall.  She has been in club 2 years and was MVP at her middle school.  What are some things that we can be doing now to prepare us for trying to get her recruited for college volleyball ?  At what age do we start communicating with colleges? S.M.

NOTHING!!!!  I mean that - DO NOTHING NOW!!!  Your baby girl is just finishing junior high and sounds like she has talent, and is already in club volleyball.

The best thing you can do is to educate yourself (which is exactly what you are starting now by sending me your question - Great Job!).  I suggest you visit my collegevolleyballcoach.com website for some of the older posts, which will have a wealth of information about recruiting and training (and also my Inside College Volleyball book).  You may also want to consider joining NCSA Athletic Recruiting because they have a wealth of information (no kidding, I was blown away by what they have for families), and as it is a one time membership fee, it makes sense (and dollars) to join early to maximize the value.

By educating yourself about all the To Do's and Don'ts, along with the various NCAA rules and terms, you will be in a more comfortable position to manage the process when crazy college coaches start sending your VolleyPSA emails.

If you really want to prepare for the upcoming recruiting craziness, prepare by focusing on developing talent in a positive and consistent manner.  Talent will create opportunities.  In terms of developing talent, this current time frame from the 8th grade to end of the sophomore year is critical; these young players can make huge gains in ability within proper training environments.  Again, Talent creates Opportunity.

My saying is that Freshman is Free and Sophomore Go Slow.  Don't get ahead of the game now.  Just get educated and support your VolleyPSA by encouraging a positive environment to become a better player.  Too many times, I see VolleyFamilies get so into the development of talent, that it easily burns out their VolleyDaughter.  Positive and consistent is the key to developing talent; better to practice a couple times a week over the summer, than slam a 5 day super intense camp three times a month on a  developing player.

I believe that the Fall of her sophomore year is the time to start reaching out to collegiate coaches with her contact and player information (along with a short skills video).

I really caution VolleyFamilies against starting outreach efforts before their sophomore year, just because there is so much which can change about their VolleyPSA and about collegiate athletics, along with the fact that keeping up an intense recruiting effort for 4 years can just wear families out!  

Using the Freshman year is a barometer for the recruiting future is a smart move.  For instance, if your VolleyPSA is getting a bunch of contact emails from mid-major NCAA Division I programs, then this is a de facto evaluation of her skill sets and her being in the "view" of college coaches.  If her Freshman club season passes, and she does not have any emails from colleges, then you will need to create her being 'seen' by reaching out with video/contact information her sophomore year and making sure you are reaching out to her appropriate level of potential college play.

But, but, but........before you do any of this, remember that right now I want you to slow it down or I will come find you and I am rather good at giving the stink eye!

Coach Matt Sonnichsen


  1. AnonymousMay 01, 2012

    Our daughter is 14 yrs. old and has played club vball for 4 years in addition to outdoor sand and grass in the off season. This year she is one of ours setters and has played all around on our team. It was a very competitive team; we were back and forth in Gold and Silver but ended the season back where we started 5th in our region out of 128 teams. We also placed 13th/20 teams in the open division at a National Qualifier in March. Last week our team received a “bid” to attend Nationals in Ohio; American bracket. We literally had 20 minutes to decided (as parents) if we were going to accept this bid and go…
    Since our family has had vacations plans to Mexico since last summer, we decided not to accept the invitation to Nationals since it’s during the same week we will be out of the country. However, our whole team will be attending, just not our daughter.
    As parent, reading your last post, I really don’t feel like we should switch our family vacation plans to attend Nationals with such short notice. Our daughter is only 14 and will be starting H.S. in the fall. A week has passed since we declined the invite from the coach, and now our daughter and my husband are feeling pressure from the club, coaches, players and parents to attend with the team. “They need her talents on the court!” The part that I am having a problem with is; they are expecting us leave our planned vacation early and fly her across the country to Ohio for the team! This would cause us to cut our family vacation short, which we have been very much looking forward to all year. Nationals would be a fun experience for her, but also an extra expense to us, flights, hotels, food, airlines and car rental. The club would not be paying for any of it.
    Am I correct in my thinking that she is only 14 and will hopefully have other opportunities’ to attend a National tournament? I just feel bad, because I sense that she is feeling the pressure from everyone.
    Can you give her some advice that I can share with her? What are your thoughts here?

    V-ball Mom (that does care)

    1. She is only 14, in 8th grade and the team 'qualified' for the American division. Go to Mexico and don't think twice. Let me repeat this - 14, 8th grade, American division; go to Mexico!!

      This is WAY too early to worry about college recruiting, WAY too early to worry about attending a Nationals and for other parents to be pressing you to play in the American division, thus shredding your vacation is just silly. She will expand her growth horizons more by visiting another country, than by visiting Ohio.

      If you are worried about her development for college, fly me down to Mexico and I will play beach volleyball with her every day!!!

  2. AnonymousMay 01, 2012


    Coach Matt had given you the best and honest advice you will ever get in the junior volleyball world. If all the coaches are as honest and sincere as he is, we will have a lot more people play sports, not just volleyball.

    Slow down!!!!


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