February 24, 2014

Volleyball Injuries and Recruiting

Dear Coach,

My daughter is a 6'1" middle blocker and a sophomore in high school.   She had just made the #1 club team in the area when she tore her ACL. She had surgery in mid-December and the doctors say she should be back to 100% in 6 to 9 months. My question is we were ready to send emails to all of the schools she interested in to give them her schedule before the injury, what should we do now? I don't want her first contact to be "Hi, I'm a MB and I'm injured".  She still plans on going to all of the local (east coast) tournaments to support the team.

Concerned and confused VB Dad

So sorry to hear of the injury - Sometimes VB can be some bad luck!!!

My suggestion is wait until she is back to FULL speed before engaging in the outreach process.  Make sure your first impression is the best impression. 

There is still plenty of time in the recruiting process and an ACL now, is so much better than one as a junior or senior.  Tell her to focus on getting that knee better, focus on getting her skills back when the knee is better and then when those two are done, everyone can focus on recruiting.

The silver lining of the situation is that the DI schools are constantly recruiting MB's because they can be tough to find - Your daughter's outreach efforts come next December will receive a tremendous amount of attention, because she will be 'new' to them, and thus extremely interested in knowing more.

Hang in there; better days ahead!!!

Hey Coach,

My daughter is a 6'1" junior MB/OPP.
She has had a lot of college interest  and attended the AVCA phenom program in Seattle, but she hurt her shoulder in Nov.
MRI confirmed its a torn labrum.
She's been doing physical therapy but it is clear it wasn't working and we decided to have the surgery last week and she may be out for as long as 6 months.

There are some colleges who told her they'd come see her play in the Las Vegas Classic. I feel we need to let them know she won't be there now, but what does she say? How does she word it? She's afraid her chances are gone and won't get recruited now.

Any advice on what to tell the coaches about the surgery or words of encouragement for getting recruited after an injury and possibly as a senior?

Thanks, D.A.

Thank you for your email and interesting to hear your daughter was in Seattle - I was there speaking for NCSA Athletic Recruiting; I don't know if your family was there, but she should have seen me during the welcoming session just after Keri Walsh spoke.

Sorry to hear about the shoulder surgery and my direct advice, born of experience with this injury and how college coaches recruit, is below.

1.  Shoulder injuries usually take a year to be back to normal - 6 months is almost a pie in the sky time frame because even if she can swing at 6 months, she won't have the power and when I have seen players come back quick, they usually hurt it again or it never fully recovers.  I strongly encourage you to plan on her not being back full speed until this time next year.  The only positive is that the injury occurred as a junior, not a senior.

2.  Communicate with the college coaches which she has been interacting with, that she is not able to make Las Vegas because of an injury - DO NOT be more specific than that.  Shoulder injuries scare college coaches the most - Unlike an ACL surgery, which is fairly routine and set in its recovery, the shoulder is a complicated joint and the variables of recovery are wide.

3.  She needs to 'disappear' off the recruiting radar until she is fully healed and back to banging balls!  I know it is a scary proposition, but it is the best choice.  Recruiting is all about making that first impression - If she continues in the recruiting process, the first impression she makes will only be negative (athlete with a shoulder injury).  Better to disappear - Out of sight and out of mind.

4.  Focus completely on slow and steady rehab - do not rush. Rushing the rehab is a bad thing and I have seen too many collegiate athletes who never make it back, and they have superior facilities and dedicated trainers.  She has to get it into her mind, that her end goal, her only goal is to be full strength come next's President's Day.

5. The Silver Lining is that come next February, she will get slammed with attention because they won't be elite level players like her available late in the recruiting process.  Remember that a ton of scholarships open up over the Holidays because coaches cut players, players transfer and there are job changes right and left.  This creates a bunch of opportunities for talented players who are still available in the winter of their senior year.

6.  Once she is full go, then do a big outreach campaign to a wide range of schools and be steady and consistent in working the recruiting process.

Tough break, but in the end, everything will turn out positive if she focuses on rehab!

Hello Coach,

My daughter is a 6’4” left-handed right side player and a 2015 graduate that had a torn meniscus. It was not bothering her during her training or playing so we decided to wait on surgery.

The season was going good until she did a deep knee bend during warm-ups at one of her tournaments and the meniscus flipped over and locked open her joint, thus getting surgery on January 30, 2014.  She had previously contact colleges about her schedule and some even came to watch the first part of the tournament that she hurt herself in.  She is recovering and we believe will be back in 8-9 weeks to full play.

What does she say to the colleges she contacted as well as the ones that would be expecting to see her in the next month? 


Sorry to hear of your PSA's injury, but all in all, it is a minor injury.  

Just communicate with the college coaches about the injury - "Coach, I will be out of action for approximately 10 weeks while I recover from meniscus surgery - I look forward to playing later this club season!".

Short, simple and to the point - Then just have her focus on getting healthy and while she is rehab'ing; hit the pause button on recruiting.

Recruiting is all about making a great first impression, so you don't want to be reaching out to colleges right now and say "hi, I am recovering from knee surgery".  Better to wait until full go and back to being a stud, and then say "hi, come see me play because I am awesome!".

Good luck!

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