June 13, 2013

AAU Championships vs USA Volleyball Junior Nationals

Hi Coach,

I stumbled across your Collegevolleyballcoach.com blog while researching the question of AAUs vs. Jr. Nationals.  I have a related question:

At Jr. Nationals, do college recruiters watch all the divisions or focus on the Open Division only?  Our team had planned to go to AAUs until just recently.  A vocal minority of parents (some of whom are a bit older) seem to have a bias toward Jr. Nationals.  They basically told the club director that unless we go to Jr. Nationals in Dallas, their daughters will have a conflict and will skip the postseason altogether.  Coincidentally, our team recently got a call and was offered a spot in the American Division at Jr. Nationals--which our coach made the executive decision and accepted.  About 4 of 13 of the parents are happy and the rest (including me) are concerned that it will be a waste of time in terms of level of competition and level of exposure to college coaches.  

In other words, I don't just want to know if AAUs are a better option than Jr. Nationals but to drill down and get your thoughts on the different divisions at Jr. Nationals--Open, National, USA, American.  Even more specifically, which option makes more sense from a recruiting/showcasing standpoint:  Jr. Nationals American division or AAU Open?  Seems like a no brainer to me but I'm just a parent and would like an expert opinion to confirm or deny my instincts on the matter.

Any insights you can provide would be great and much appreciated!  It may be too late to change our plans for this year but I think it's an important discussion our club and families need to have for next year.  

Thank you! 


In my opinion, AAU's is now the superior recruiting destination and many other college coaches feel this way.  For so many years, the mindset was that USA Volleyball Junior Nationals was the summer championship event for recruiting, and I think the older parents are reflecting this stance.

At USA Volleyball Junior Nationals, the college coaches' focus tends to drift towards the Open Division, but they will pay attention the National Division (which I used to call Club - I just read the USA Volleyball pdf of divisions, and if it is in rank order, American is the 3rd of the 4 divisions).  If in the gym, college coaches will make the effort to see any team, but they rank order the players/teams they need to see with Open being the top and the American Division will not be a high priority.

What I have always found difficult about Jr Nationals is the staggered start date of the age divisions; it makes effective recruiting a challenge because of the time commitment involved.  Also, with the host city always being in a new locale, which presents its own travel and budget challenges.

AAU's has grown in attractiveness because it is always in Orlando, it is extremely well run and user friendly, and more effectively groups the ages together.  I would also say that AAU's has a larger variety of teams, with clubs from SoCal, the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Puerto Rico - This diversity is attractive to college coaches.

Hope that helps!

Coach Matt


  1. With the more age groups going on at the same time at AAU, doesn't that make it more difficult to see more athletes? It would seem with a staggered start date, you would have more time for you and your assistants to identify more players.
    I don't quite understand the travel challenges. You know Jr. Nationals are being held in Minneapolis, MN next year and the dates have been announced for about a year now.

  2. Now that club tryouts are over in area, this has become the next topic for several of the parents. AAUs or Jr. Nationals as the end of the season event. I can see why Jr. Nationals may be best for some coaches....the ones with the budget to stick around for all the ages groups, the D1s. AAUs probably best for colleges on limited budgeted lower D1, D2s, etc. So, based on one's team and the ability of the girls, maybe one girl of the 12 is D1 material, and others not, then that should guide the decision which tournament to attend. The D1 girls will still get a look from the D1s cause they will probably travel to AAUs anyway, and the D2 girls will still get their chance for a look, too. With the Patriot Division at Jr. Nationals being offered last year, it was an additional opportunity for girls with skills or lower level clubs to get a look too. Not sure if this division will be offered again, so that is something to consider too.

  3. My club switched from USAV rules to AAU rules to govern our tryouts. THis moved tryouts from November to July (earlier). Even though the club informed we were switching rules the USAV and our region are sanctioning us for not following the USAV rules and barring us from all USAV competition. Why can't a club govern itself by AAU rules and participate in some USAV events. Are we the only club to have ever done this? Does USAV have a monopoly on volleyball?

  4. I am not familiar enough with the rules pertaining to each USA Volleyball Region, but I do know many club teams which are aligned with AAU/JVA yet compete in USA Volleyball events.


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