First of all, I just want to say that I really appreciate what you are doing. I think it is very nice of you to help out young athletes like me by answering our many questions.
I am going to be starting my sophomore year in high school and last year I played on my school's varsity volleyball team as a freshman. I think the idea of playing volleyball in college is amazing but first I want to know more about it since I am new to all of this and have no clue what I am supposed to be doing!
First of all, I play setter and I am 5ft 8in, is there any possibility of me even playing for a D1 college at that height? Also, as much I'd love to continue my volleyball career in college I don't want it to get in the way of my studies so I was wondering how often colleges practice, how long they practice for and what kind of stuff would be expected for the off season?
Also, if I do have a chance of making it to a college volleyball team, what would be the recruiting process that I should be doing to get my name out there to college coaches?
Thank you for your compliments on my efforts helping athletes manage the college volleyball recruiting process!
As you have asked a number of questions, please allow me to separate them for individual answers. The college volleyball process can be confusing and overwhelming; just the fact that you have reached out for help is a positive first step.
First of all, I play setter and I am 5ft 8in, is there any possibility of me even playing for a D1 college at that height? - Yes, there are any number of DI setters who are 5'8". Two items count when a coach considers a 'shorter' setter (which by DI measure, you would be considered a 'shorter' setter): 1) How athletic is the player and how good of a setter is she? 2) What type of an offense is the program running?
If you are a shorter setter and want to play DI, then you need to be very athletic and have the physical and mental ability to manage the position at a high level.
With the NCAA increasing the substitution count a few years ago, a number of program are using a 'front to back' 6-2 offense where 2 setters substitute in/out with 2 opposite players. In this type of an offense, setter height does not have as much importance.
Also, as much I'd love to continue my volleyball career in college I don't want it to get in the way of my studies so I was wondering how often colleges practice, how long they practice for and what kind of stuff would be expected for the off season? - With this statement, I would recommend against NCAA Division I volleyball because of the huge time commitment required. As many DI athletes have shown, you can excel in the classroom and the court, but it mandates supreme time management and not being able to experience many other facets of being a student in college.
During the season, daily practices range from 2 to 3 hours, which does not include a lifting/condition segment in the morning or post practice. You also need to factor in time in the training room and any 'volunteer' film or training sessions. In addition, you will be playing 2 to 4 matches a week and traveling at least every other weekend.
The off season depends upon the category of NCAA Volleyball and the budgets of the individual programs. In general, the DI programs (especially the better programs) will have an off season which is really not an off season; they practice and train non-stop. With D2, there is an off season, but the time commitment is usually no where near as much as D1. D3 arguably has the smallest off season time commitment per their division rules and philosophy.
Also, if I do have a chance of making it to a college volleyball team, what would be the recruiting process that I should be doing to get my name out there to college coaches? - Your opportunity to play collegiate volleyball will be a combination of two factors; 1) your talent level, 2) how hard you promote/market yourself to college volleyball programs.
There are 5 categories of 'college volleyball' - NCAA Division I, Division 2, Division 3, NAIA and Junior College Volleyball. Each of these categories has different scholarship opportunities, philosophies and time commitments. Your talent level and education desires will naturally position you for a category of college volleyball, and the challenge is to maximize your options within that category. Not everyone has the talent to play DI, or wants to sacrifice so much of their collegiate experience playing DI even if they have the talent.
Today's college volleyball recruiting environment is competitive and supply has exceeded demand in the recruiting equation. This results in VolleyFamilies needing to be focused on promoting/marketing their PSA to the appropriate category of programs, rather than just hanging back and playing high school/club volleyball while hoping for something to happen.
A few suggestions to help you along your way:
1) Consider using NCSA Athletic Recruiting, and for sure, take advantage of their Free Site because of the wealth of information and education they complimentary make available.
2) Take a moment and read through my Recruiting Plan on the collegevolleyballcoach.com website - I have updated the plan and provided even more background/support in my book, Inside College Volleyball. In a nutshell, you need to contact college volleyball coaches with video showing your setting skills.
3) Bring your parents in on this process. College volleyball recruiting is a serious process and it is important to include your parents because of their maturity and that this process will have a family impact.