July 18, 2013

College Volleyball Recruiting - Playing Position

Hi Coach,
The club season is almost over and college committments are still rolling in.  You are right about that.....
Your thoughts.....
I'm curious about a player transitioning to another position for college.   If player is transitioning late (by 17/18) into the other position, then training in that new position will likely take a year or two for most to become proficient, wouldn't you say?  Why would a college coach take a risk on hoping the transition in skills will come up to par with the needs of the program, and risk a scholarship on that player, when the coach can find another player already in that position and fine tune those skills for their program?  (Club MB to College OH, Club OH to College
DS/L, Club DS/L to College Setter, Club RS to Setter/MB or vice versa???)
For the player who is transitioning into the new position, what does the college coach see that would have them consider a player as a viable candidate in the new position, if they are not already doing the specific skill development for new position, on the court during club season?  Good volleyball IQ, athleticism, high energy, team player????  Seems there is so much talent out there in all positions can't figure out why the need to find a girl not already playing the position.  It takes different timing and skills within each position, and obviously the more you have played in that position the better you become.
Is the player suppose to be training in case of the posibility of moving into a new position?  At what age should the player cultivate all around skills, just in case she is told to move to another position after college?
Thanks for any insight...
VB Parent

You have just illustrated one reason that there are so many college volleyball players who get cut from their teams.  The college coaches thought they could make a late change to a new position, or the college coach thought they had such great coaching ability that they could develop them into an elite player at this new position.  

NCAA Division I elite level volleyball is height driven - It is lost on television, but the top teams are all full of monsters!!!  That old adage, 'you can't teach height' is never truer than in power conference DI Volleyball, but unfortunately, too many coaches cannot teach talent either.

Because height is so important, and because there is a never ending supply of recruits and families willing to go to elite level programs, there is a limited downside for the college coaches to employ this program philosophy. College coaches are OK with bringing in these transitional players, because even if 4 of 5 of them wash out, they obtained 1 player who was very good - then, they just bring in another 4 the next year.

Going even deeper, rally score volleyball changed the way college coaches recruit, that combined with 18 subs.  The type of recruiting philosophy you are speaking of was dominant when score was sideout.  The all around ball control player with intelligence and energy was desired because the matches were determined by making good plays, consistently over the course of long games.  In today's game, the hitters hit, the blockers block, the passers pass/defend and the setters set - And then, the games are done in a flash - 25 points in a rally score game is quick; there is no need for conditioning or players being well rounded.  Players only need to complete their very specific job description for a small segment of time.  If Sideout scoring and limited subs were reinstated, you would see a shift back to well rounded, complete (and shorter) players in all positions.

Players should be cultivating all skills all the time, especially when younger.  A big mistake I see in club and school volleyball in the USA, is our propensity to specialize very early.  Middles who cannot even pepper, DS's who can't hit, setters who can't play defense are all a result of these same players only practicing specific skill sets as 7th and 8th graders.  As a player develops physically, their height will determine what position(s) they could play in college.  There is way too much unknown when it comes to college volleyball (and collegiate athletics for that matter) - Families need to control what they can, and that is having their PSA develop her all around skills and try to have some fun!

All I have written above is one reason I left coaching college volleyball.  I prefer the international rules, where at least the subs are limited and some of the players have to play all the way around. Coaching college volleyball, compared to when it was sideout scoring, is boring - Set the lineup, call some serves and hope the next game goes better than the previous.  Gone is developing an in game strategy, gone is finding a weakness and exploiting it, gone is making strategic substations to take advantage of an opportunity or try to mitigate a weakness.  

In closing, I will refer to your opening......college volleyball recruiting never ends; the club season is done and DI's are still offering scholarships to already graduated high school seniors (I know because I have DI coaching friends calling me asking if I know of anyone, and I refer them to NCSA Athletic Recruiting because of our database and ability).  

Early recruiting pressure by elite programs (which trickles down to every other category of college volleyball), early erroneous commitments by recruits/families (because they did not work through the evaluation process of the programs/schools), and the protocol of college coaches to cut those players who don't pan out (instead of coaching them), all lead to a never ending recruiting process!

Coach Matt

1 comment:

Please stay positive or at the minimum present constructive criticism - Negative comments or attacks upon other reader's opinions will not be posted.