September 17, 2013

College Volleyball Freshman Burn Out!!!

I am the parent of an incoming freshman - lower D1 school.
The coaches did warn us all girls (at one point or another) "Hitting the Wall".
She's been gone for 6 weeks already- extensive training and summer school. 
Well,  it finally happened.   (mentally and physically spent) 
Can you explain what "Hitting the Wall" is, and how do coaches help them through?
Thank you
Concerned Parent

What you have illustrated is an unwelcome change in the protocol of NCAA Division I Volleyball; having incoming freshman report in summer for team training/school.  I never agreed with it because I don't think the majority of freshman are ready for that transition to occur so soon - It is tough enough when it is August and they go into a traditional semester setting, much less the disconnect of summer activity/studies.

Hitting the Wall is exactly what you illustrated - She is fried mentally and physically.....and the season is just beginning.  It takes a huge amount of focus and will power to get thru early arrival summer because the workouts are tough, the summer school classes are compressed with massive amounts of information to process in a few weeks, and then the coaches demand the players participate in open gym or pick up play.   It can be a challenge for returners; for freshman, they do well for about 4 weeks because of adrenalin....then they start to fade, right when they need to ramp up for double days of the pre-season training!

What do college coaches do to help?  The majority of them....not much.  DI Volleyball is survival of the fittest at most schools and if an incoming freshman can't handle it, then they will just replace her with another incoming player next year.  The coaches are concerned about getting the players into the best physical and volleyball condition as to win matches; when the coaches win, they keep their jobs, get raises or get better jobs.  When they lose, they get fired.  The emotional well being of a freshman pales in comparison to job security and money.

As harsh as this sounds, she needs to suck it up and power through the challenge.  Best suggestion I have is for her to simplify her life.  She should be focused on three things; eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and working hard in the gym.  When school starts, then she adds academics to this equation.  

Too many freshman athletes don't realize how much 'waste' occurs in their daily or weekly routine and this waste will wear them down.  Are they consuming the proper diet - Complex carbs, fruits and smaller servings with plenty of water?  Are they sleeping 8+ hours?  Are they getting ice or therapy when a body part is sore or tender?  Are they staying off their feet in between workouts or at night?  Too many kids will stay up late, make a junk food run with their buddies, go to a party, not get soreness treated, text with their boyfriend/sister/friend at all hours, etc.

NCAA Division I volleyball is professional - Simply put, as a full scholarship athlete, you are at that school because of your volleyball ability.  It is my belief that too many families think college will be just the next step up from club because they may have played on a good club team, or their club team went to a few Qualifiers.  DI Volleyball is a huge jump from club volleyball - Huge time demands, huge physical demands, intense pressure and crazy travel scenarios (and possibly, even crazier coaches!).

As to your baby girl, tell her to keep things simple - eat well, get a good block of sleep at night, take care of any physical issues with the trainer and work hard in they gym.  When classes start and the team starts traveling, she will be in a better mental state.

Coach Matt


  1. Ran into a friend of ours who DD is at a low D2 program and they were surprised how different college ball is versus club ball. Coach please tell your readers more just because PSA did well in club and high school doesn't mean they will do well in the NCAA world.

  2. I will try and generate a comprehensive post about the differences/transitions. Too many VolleyFamilies think that since they participated with a good club team, college play and demands will be similar........nope!

  3. Honestly, I think you have so many girls "Hit the Wall' because so many volleyball clubs treat the girls with kid gloves and too many coaches play the friend card. I love the sport, but hate the politics.I have a daughter that has such a strong work ethic and attended a "Day in the life of a college athlete camp"( expose her to the next level) and while it was tough,(three five hour days training and play) the head coach told her how impressed she was with her skills and athleticism(she was 15 and was asked to train with the 19yr old girls). my husband and I have always taught our kids hard work is the only way to grow. Long story short, came back and tried out for her high school team, didn't make the cut.I found her crying one night and discovered that she wasn't upset about making the team but realized her work ethic/ talent is nothing to these coaches."I don't know what more I can do", were her thoughts. she thinks college coaches will pass her up once they see she didn't make her high school team. we have told her to continue what she is doing and don't allow any coach define how far she ends up in this sport.


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