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Friday, February 8, 2013
High Performance Program and College Volleyball Recruiting
I was just reading your post about the High Performance tryouts that are held at National Qualifiers and it raised a couple other questions. Assuming that the HP tryoutsaregeared toward generating revenue for USAV and that coaches aren't likely to be there evaluating talent, what about the HP tournament itself? If a player makes one of the HP teams (either on the national or regional side) and plays in the HP tournament, do college coaches attend/recruit at that event? Or, is it safe to say that if a player has the talent to make a HP team she's probably going to get noticed and that the incremental HP exposure isn't really significant (assuming, of course, she's playing at multiple qualifiers/nationals and actively working a recruiting plan)? I'd really appreciate your thoughts. As you mentioned in your post on HP, the "downside" to a HP tryout isn't much if you're already going to be in town for the qualifier ($65 and a couple hours of time). The "downside" to actually participating in the HP program is significantly higher and I'm wondering if there's a corresponding "upside."
I believe the High Performance program serves the function of creating a defined path towards joining the USA National Team. Instead of just having an invite tryout which consists of collegiate all stars, and all the politics inherent in such an invite, the HP program gives some structure to the process. As the USA National program also includes age group classifications (U21, U19, etc) which play in international competitions, it is the National Team's responsibility to fill these rosters in a defined process.
A benefit of this system, is it has the potential to generate a lot of revenue for the USA team because of the sheer number of players which come through a tryout. There are the additional team playing opportunities the HP program offers to volleyball players but, these opportunities are paid for by the player and are not cheap. I have not seen the financial breakdown of the various camps, tournaments and trips, but I would think that with the fee paid by the players, not much, if any funds are coming out of USA Volleyball.
I want to be careful about how much I 'bash' the HP program. I know a number of the staff who administer the HP program and the are good people, dedicated to USA Volleyball and working hard to keep our sport relevant. If the HP program can create a path to the upper National team opportunities, and thus reduce the politics of players selection, then it is a positive.
My critical comments tend to be focused on when the HP program is marketed as a recruiting positive and the ancillary 'opportunities' of the overall HP system which tend to be very expensive for VolleyFamilies. Please remember that I am also critical of college volleyball camps which are marketed as recruiting opportunities!
College coaches tend not to attend the HP program tryouts because of the timing and format. Even though so many HP tryouts are held the night before a National Qualifier and at the same facility, the HP tryouts are lengthy (up to 3 hours) and the volleyball format does not allow for quick evaluations by college coaches. Remember that the college coaches are arriving the evening before a major tourney, and are looking at 2 to 3 full days in a gym for the weekend. They really don't want to go in the night before and hang out for another 2+ hours trying to evaluate talent in the tryout (of which the college coaches may not even know exactly which player is wearing which jersey number).
In terms of the various HP teams and camps, I am sure there are some college coaches who attend, but it is not the best use of our recruiting time and budget. We can get a lot more bang for our buck at large tournaments or specific recruiting combines, which occur earlier in the annual recruiting cycle.
You are correct in the general observation that if a player is going to make one of the invite HP program teams, then they are already in an elite talent situation and should being receiving lots of recruiting love.
From a recruiting perspective, an upside of the HP program is that if you have tremendous talent, but maybe are from a very small town and/or your club team is not that deep or can't afford to attend the NQ's, then maybe the HP program is your vehicle to exposure.
But, remember, the HP program is not geared for creating exposure for collegiate coaches, it is geared to the USA National Team(s) to identify and develop talent.