October 21, 2013

College Volleyball Recruiting and the Left Handed Player

Hello Coach!

At first we thought our daughter was in a very exclusive class, but now we are wondering if she is a hard player to recruit for most colleges, due to her limited role? We thought being left handed and 6'3" was a bonus, but it seems to limit what her role can be. Any insight into what colleges would be thinking for this type of player? Also, why don't colleges run a cross where if you do have a left handed right side player, they run a front slide at the same time the middle runs a back slide?  


Your daughter is in an exclusive class and this creates the situation which are now facing.  As I have written about in Inside College Volleyball, our sport moved even more toward position specific specialization.

The offensive systems of many college volleyball programs have shifted in the last couple of years, as a reaction to the number of substitutions moving to 15 in NCAA play (unlimited in NAIA).  With 15 subs, teams can run a front to back 6-2 offense (2 setters and two OP players switching every three rotations) and usually will not run out of substitutions before the game ends.

But, a number of college volleyball programs are still using a traditional 5-1 offense, with one OP player and one setter.

Either way, being a tall left handed player, tends to limit a PSA's playing opportunity to just the right side (think about geometry of volleyball; it is difficult for left handed players to play left side outside hitter, and seeing a left handed MB is like seeing $1.00 gas).

Some college teams could use two left handed players (in the OP position), while others will just use one lefty (in the OP position) - If you do the theoretical recruiting math; some programs will recruit a lefty every 2 years, while others will recruit one every 4 years.

Club volleyball tends to immediately put left handed players into the OP slot and the opposite position, because of serve receive rotations/positioning, is not a primary passing position.  So, the club team will sub out the OP and put in a DS for the back row rotations.  This early slotting of positions, results in OP players being very narrow in their skill sets - Hitting and blocking.  An argument can be made that the OP position is the most specialized, and also the most limited.

The front slide can be a nice offensive attack but there are two challenges - 1) Some (maybe many) club coaches are not comfortable teaching this individual offensive attack, or combination plays in general.  2) When a left handed OP runs a front slide, it tends to get pushed a bit towards the opponent's right side blocker.  As a result, the opponent's middle blocker can wait for the play to come to them, and can get help from her right side blocker.

In closing, because your daughter is in a 'specialized' position, you need to keep reaching out to college programs.  Don't wait for her to be noticed, but get her information out to any potential programs so they are aware of her - The recruiting landscape is always changing, so you must be proactive and patient.

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