April 4, 2013

College Volleyball Recruiting - Camps and Club Volleyball

Dear Coach,

My daughter, a sophomore in high school and a volleyball player, is looking for camps to go to. She loves the sport (both sand and indoor) and really, really wants to play in college. I sort of figure it would be good to go to a camp given by a college she's interested in but she just doesn't know what that is yet. What are the venues and dates of your camps?

Also, she is playing for a rather big club in southwest. She and one other girl are new to club volleyball this year and although they are as good or better than the other girls on the team, they are getting very little play time and almost no coaching or feedback. Certainly not compared to some other girls on the team who have been there for a few years and are given lots of play time and feedback. 

I'm concerned that my daughter feels like she's not a valuable part of the team and this is affecting her confidence and self esteem. I am trying to encourage her to talk to her coach instead of guessing at why she's not being played, etc.  Is this common for new girls in a club? It seems like we are paying a lot of money, not to mention driving an hour for every practice, for very little result and are now wondering about alternatives to playing club ball. Are there viable alternative venues that would allow her to hone her skills and also get some exposure?

Thanks for your input!!


My impression is that things are a bit overwhelming for your VolleyFamily right now - I have three pre-emptive suggestions for you - 1) Take a look at NCSA Athletic Recruiting, and absolutely use their Free site to educate yourself and take some steps towards promoting your PSA.  2)  In my book, Inside College Volleyball, I write extensively about many of the concerns you expressed in your email.  3)  Continue to read collegevolleyballcoach.com, because so many other families have the same challenges you do, and by all of us communicating, good ideas and positive results can occur!

As for Camps - View camps as a training tool, not a recruiting tool.  The only time which I recommend a college camp for recruiting is if your PSA has her list narrowed down to just a couple of schools (and the schools have her on their short list or have offered a scholarship).  In this instance, the camp is an 'extended visit'.

I must caution all VolleyFamilies about camps as recruiting - Even if it makes sense to go to the camp as a recruiting function (narrowed the list and school has offered), college camps are not reality.  How the camp operates is not going to be how the program operates.  Camps are business and the business is keeping the campers happy.  College Volleyball is not about keeping college volleyball players happy.  I have received many emails from VolleyFamilies staring at a transfer situation who referenced that when they went to the school's camp, the coaches/program was not like this.

In terms of my camps, I have a series of Volleyball Road Camps which are specific for individual high school programs, but I am now establishing a few dates/cities to hold Open Camps with the support of NCSA Athletic Recruiting.  These Open camps will be focused on college prep, both in terms of physical skill sets which are expected as a collegiate player and the recruiting management needed to transition into collegiate volleyball.  I hope to publish these Open camps within the next 30 days and they will be limited in size to ensure each camper gets maximum support.

As to your concerns with being the new PSA on the team, they are valid.  Unfortunately, coaches are humans and have favorites, along with being more comfortable with familiarity.  College coaches also do this, so your concerns are easily shared by college VolleyFamilies.  New players, in club or college, will get the smallest piece of the coach's attention pie.  For Club families, this should be tough to accept because they are paying for the right to play.

I suggest that you schedule a meeting with the club coach and or director.  I say schedule a meeting, so you can communicate with the other adults, away from the gym and distractions.  While I think it is good that you encourage your daughter to approach her coach, this is a grown up matter.  

When you sit down with the coach/director, have your questions written down.  Be very specific in what your concerns are, what your observations are, and be ready to listen.  Maybe the club coach or director has a valid reason for the current situation.  After listening, be prepared to offer solutions which would satisfy your family.

In reading your email, my biggest concern would be the lack of practice attention/coaching.  Playing time or lack of, could easily be a result of the other girls having more familiarity with the system or the coach understanding the strengths/weaknesses of the returning players.  But, practice repetitions and feedback should be even for all players, as all players are paying the same fee to participate.

Other than approaching the club coach/director to improve the situation specific to the club, you might consider private lessons (outside of your club) to give your VolleyPSA a bit of a skills and ego boost.  I don't know how viable that is for you geographically or financially, but private lessons can be an avenue towards improvement.

Because of the internet, the ability to successfully promote a player's skill sets no longer rely exclusively with the club.  Families can use the web and video to reach out directly to college coaches.  In fact, because of how competitive recruiting has become (in terms of athletes finding their collegiate future) and how unsettled today's collegiate landscape is (in terms of coaches being crazy and budgets/conference switches) that VolleyFamilies cannot expect or rely upon their club's to do everything.

Your mindset should be one of proactive, positive efforts to manage the process of recruiting and club volleyball, as opposed to having the process manage you!

Good luck in your next tourney!!!

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