May 27, 2013

NCAA Division I Volleyball - Arriving Student Athletes

My DD is transitioning from PSA to SA at Power Conference Big State U and will be reporting summer classes in a month.  And many other DD's are on their way as well.
As a former coach: 

- What should they expect during Summer?  Workouts?  Open gym?  classes? 
- What are the biggest transitions?  What do Frosh struggle with most?
- What are the key behaviors and attitudes needed to be successful?  To get along with new team?  To find the floor? 
Because the graduates are 18, they seldom listen to the VolleyParents anymore.  But maybe they will listen to you, THE collegevolleyballcoach. 
Thanks for everything you do, you are a great asset to the sport of volleyball.

One of the big within NCAA Division I women's volleyball, is that incoming freshman are now expected to report in the summer, to start their collegiate careers.  This new 'start date' can lead to a very short senior summer, if the athlete is competing at USA Volleyball Junior Nationals or AAU's.  

- During the summer school sessions, they will be expected to work out, play volleyball, go to classes and study. The lifting/conditioning tends to occur in the early morning, so the players can attend classes later in the morning or mid day.  Then, the 'open gym', which is mandatory, will happen in the early afternoon, with studying occurring at night.  Remember that the summer sessions are 15 weeks crammed into 6, so the class load is heavy and time management is critical.

-  The biggest transitions are the demands physically and mentally.  Summer school is tough because the student must process so much information and there is not time to coast; you absolutely cannot fall behind and the professors are not high school teachers willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.  The conditioning and lifting will be much tougher than club or high school and this is on purpose.  The strength coaches want to find out who is in shape and they don't want to wait for anyone to catch up; many of them have been told 'off the record' to weed out who is not strong enough to physically compete at DI, so the VB coach gets another scholarship for the next year.  There is no, 'don't worry about it' or 'do your best' coming from the strength staff. 

- Incoming athletes have to prepare themselves physically and mentally for the burden.  It is not volleyball camp, it is not get there and then adjust, it is not play your way into shape.  It is a hyper competitive physical and academic environment.  I always told my incoming players to arrive in the best physical condition of their careers.  A strength coach will not make you squat more than you can because of safety reasons, but they will make you do sprints until you puke your guts out.  If you arrive out of shape, then it only makes the mountain steeper.  Academically, the players have to get back into study mode - This is not summer time reading or watching a documentary, it is processing a book a week, or doing 10 hour labs in one day; your brain has to be turned on!

The last bit of advice I can provide is understand that in today's NCAA DI Volleyball world, the player is a professional and has to act like a professional.  Play time is done.


  1. AnonymousMay 27, 2013

    Wow, that sounds very stressful. Is this only for the D1 big confernce schools?

  2. This new protocol for incoming freshman is now applicable to almost all DI schools, not matter the DI classification.

  3. AnonymousMay 30, 2013

    and this is why we see so many recommendations to go DII :)

  4. AnonymousMay 31, 2013

    Coach, is that why we are seeing more and more transfers?

  5. Yes and no - I think it does place a lot of stress on 17 and 18 year old kids which results in possible severe separation anxiety. But, it is more than the physical demands, it is the mental stress which coaches/staff place upon the athlete and the fact there are a lot of cut throat, mean, selfish coaches who view the athletes as nothing more than the means to an end.


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