July 26, 2012

Switching Playing Position?

I have received some great advice from you a couple of times in the recent past. 
My daughter is class of 2016 (14 years old) and recently completed club season playing for a competitive 15s team.  She has also made her high school varsity team this fall as a freshman.  She stands 5'10" in her shoes and her doctors say she is finished growing. 
Ok, so here is my dilemma, my daughter has great hands and sets very well.  I feel her best opportunity to get to the next level (college) might be at setter.  Although, she did have a junior high coach give her the opportunity to set,  club coaches have not given her the opportunity to set and the high school coach this fall plans to play her in the middle.  It gets frustrating at times seeing coaches grab the 5'6" girls and developing them as setters without giving my daughter the opportunity when she is more than capable.  I`m thinking to the future and my concern is how will my daughter ever be able to get the development as a setter to possibly go to the next level when coaches all want to stick her in the middle???????  As you yourself know, 5'10" might be tall at 14 but not so much at 16,17 on up.  Any advice from you the expert would be helpful.
Also, to protect the innocent, please don`t post this on your site.  Never know who might be reading.
Thanks so much!!!!!!


Glad to help and your question is one which many families will be faced with.

I understand your concern when considering your VolleyPSA's position and height, and how this will define her future collegiate volleyball opportunities.

A point which I did not see in your question........Does your daughter want to set?  Does she want to play middle?  Does she want to play collegiate volleyball?

For blog's sake, let's move forward with the understanding that your daughter does want to play in college, and does want to be a setter.  As a 5'10" middle, she would be more geared towards a mid-level NCAA DII program or mid level NAIA, believing that she has a good vertical jump.  Upper DII and DI middles are becoming tall timbers!

For high school, you are rather stuck - high school coaches are going to put players into the position which best fits their specific needs and parameters.  It is not uncommon for HS players to play one position, then in club, they are in another; anything from Middle in high school to Libero in club!

Club volleyball is a different matter - When you pay to play, you have more options.  If your daughter wants to move into the setting position, then it is important she do it freshman club season; not for recruiting needs but for training needs.  Setting is much harder that most VolleyFolks understand - It is physical, it is mental and it is emotional. 

Pick your club simply - Go into tryouts as a setter, and be very clear with the club director that your PSA is only playing setter. That being said, you should prepare yourself for the real possibility that she may have to start setting on a 2nd team.  As you mentioned, a number of setters are smaller, and while they may not have the upside of your PSA, they have been setting and running a team for a couple of years.  They will look better now, and will be better prepared to set a 14 year old team.

My immediate suggestion is to get your PSA into some setting camps; either through clubs or colleges.  Make sure that she likes setting and has the base setting skills to move forward positively in the position.

Coach Matt Sonnichsen


  1. AnonymousJuly 29, 2012

    Coach: You frequently advise parents to discuss playing position with the Club Director and Coach before joining a team. In general this is a good idea, however, it is also important to realize that many clubs outside of the large Volleyball dominated markets - may only have one team - thus players may not have any other option then to play the position they are assigned by the coach/director.

    I rarely disagree with you, but as a former club business manager, and a parent - I don't believe that the power of the check bood should determine which player plays which position. Volleyball is a team sport and any coach worth his or her weight will make playing assignments on what is best for the team - not which parent is the most demanding. Every player pays the dues - and if a 5'6" player wants to play Middle - I hope the coach will say "sorry" and put in the 6'2" player at the net all other things being equal.

  2. Valid point about the club position parameters when it comes to the smaller clubs; players may have to play out of their desired position. While I acknowledge that it is a team sport, club volleyball is also the vehicle towards training and recruiting for a future in collegiate volleyball. If a player wants to set, and wants to set in college, then playing MB in club (no matter how good it is for the club), will not help her train and get recruited to play setter in college. In this situation, the parents/psa must make a choice and as they pay for the right to play on a club team, they are entitled to this choice.

  3. Coach, I think you where spot on with your advice here. My son is 6'4" and at the recommendation of one of his coaches switch from Middle to right side his sophmore year. We went into the club season expressing that to the club director and when they offered him a position as a middle we said no and they came back and offered him a position as a right side. AT that position he developed into the dominante player on the court and is now being recruited by at least 1 DI and 2 DII teams.


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