November 7, 2012

College Volleyball Recruiting and the 'young' PSA

My daughter is currently a freshman in high school, but is a year younger than all the other freshman.  She just turned 14 in September and will play in the 14U Division this upcoming club season because she is a year ahead academically.  According to her age she should only be in 8th grade.
She played on a fantastic 13U team last year which qualified for Nationals, so I'm hesitant to play her up a division in club.  Her team has been playing together for three years now, have great chemistry and a much higher skill level than most 13s teams (they finished even higher than our club's 14's National team).
So how does the fact that she is younger than most high school players affect her ability to be scouted/recruited?  Judging from a lot of your posts and answers to questions most of the recruiting occurs when they are sophomores and competing at national tournaments in 16U division, however she will only be participating in 15U Division as a sophomore and I'm afraid she may get overlooked because of that age difference.
Do you have any advice/suggestions?
Sincerely, P. B. (and jelly) (that was a Coach addition; could not resist!)

I have had a few questions in the past about PSA's who are one year younger than their graduation year.  

College coaches are going to evaluate your daughter with her class, not her age because she will graduate with her class (not her age).  She is at a disadvantage because she is one year younger, and will be compared to others in her graduation year (not her birth year).  I once had a very young freshman (full year behind other freshman) and it took her a couple of years to 'catch' up to her college class physically.

Unless you plan on holding your daughter back one year in high school, or having her delay one year before attending college, I suggest you have her play her graduation year.  I say this because if she plays her birth year (down one year versus her graduation year) when she finishes Club Volleyball competition and transitions to college, she will be making the jump from 17's to college freshman. This is too big of a jump to make, unless she is going into a pre-determined redshirt year.  

If you want to get an indication of the physical difference that she would be faced with, at the next National Qualifier, spend some time watching 16's Club volleyball (not Open, but Club), then wander over and watch the 18 Open level teams.  This is close to what your PSA would be trying to bridge after she graduates - It is a huge gap.

It is better for her to play at her graduation age group now, as a freshman, so she can use these next few years to physically and mentally assimilate to this specific playing age group.  Better to use the next four years and break this 'catch up' into four small segments (each year she closes the gap between her birth age and graduation year), rather than stay with the birth age group then try to bridge this gap in college.  

Should the family be set in keeping your PSA with her age year, not graduation year, then you must REALLY work hard to communicate this age fact to the collegiate coaches.  This is a matter of reaching out to them to inform them your PSA is playing her age, not graduation year. This is a bit of challenge, because coaches usually don't look down, they look up in ages when they are recruiting at events - College coaches are used to seeing players play up in age, not down in age.

Also, I would suggest you keep in your mind the real possibility that she would need to redshirt her first year in college, to give her the time to close the physical and speed of the game gap which she will faced with her freshman year.  I have just seen too often when young freshman get overwhelmed and frustrated because they can't keep up.

Good luck!

Coach Matt Sonnichsen

ps - my favorite jelly is seedless good on toast!!!

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