I really enjoy reading your blog and have learned a lot but I still have a few questions of my own.
My daughter is 13 and is currently a 5’11 setter/rs on a 15s national level team (top 10 in 2014 at nationals). I’ve been told that she projects to be D1 caliber (as long as she continues to ascend skillwise). She is an excellent all around player with great passing, blocking and hitting ability to go along with her setting skills. While she is on the tall side for a setter, she moves extremely well and has a really good vertical for her age. Her final projected height is around 6’.
Since she plays up she is basically a year behind her teammates in the recruiting timeline. My question is when should start engaging in the recruiting process? (unofficial visits, setting up recruiting profiles/videos, etc…) When she starts playing during the 16s year she will be a 13 year old freshman. She won’t be making any decisions about college until at least her Junior year but in the meantime she will be seen and possibly noticed by recruiters, especially during the 16’s season. So should we at least have an avenue for these recruiters to know who she is?
Also - as a setter would she be in less demand by colleges than if she was a hitter? She likes both positions equally well, but if there is more demand for hitter than setter then should we consider a position switch before 16s and go that route instead?
Thank you for your reading collegevolleyballcoach.com and I hope you have had the chance to take a read through Inside College Volleyball!
Before I get to your questions, there is something which you should ponder with the recruiting process and ultimately the transition collegiate volleyball - In your email, you indicated that your daughter will be 13 year's old as a freshman in high school? So, she is a good year or year and a half behind her school year age?
I bring this up because of the following ramifications:
1. She is playing up a year in school age, but up 2 years in physical age (at least).
2. College coaches will evaluate her based upon current skill sets and potential collegiate playing ability; with your daughter's "young age" this will need to be managed/communicated during the recruiting process.
3. If my math is correct, your daughter may be a 16 year old going off to college? There is a huge physical difference between 16 and 18 with women's volleyball players and the physical gap between 16 and 21 is enormous....and I have not touched upon the emotional maturity differences.
Back to your questions:
- I would not start engaging in the recruiting process until your daughter is a sophomore in high school and then, not until that spring. There is just too much craziness in today's collegiate athletic's world and your daughter is very young for her year. These two facts lend themselves to go as slow as possible in the early stages of recruiting - Freshman Free, Sophomore Slow.
- Players need to play the position they like best as they consider college recruiting. Even if your daughter is exactly skilled in two positions, she will enjoy/like/love playing one position more than the other.
I caution PSA's/Families from switching positions in hopes of attaining a more desirable recruiting status, if it takes away from the enjoyment and comfort zone of the player. For example, I have seen too many times where a smaller MB thinks she has to switch to OH to get recruited, even though she is better/happier in the middle or a smaller OH thinks that by moving to Libero, the Pac 12 will come knocking on her inbox. It is better to stay with the position you enjoy the most, but adjust your recruiting parameters.
In theory, there is more demand for OH's because there are more OH's on the court than setters. But, the OH position (in my opinion) may have the largest turnover in roster positions - coaches are quick to cut a player who may not be playing well or has not reached evaluated potential, and for a coach, they can always recruit another OH quickly.
Back to your daughter's age concerns:
- Even though she is talented, you may wish to rethink her playing up to 16's when she is just a 13 year old freshman and also if next year she is 14 year old playing up to 17's. Both physically and emotionally, she may not be where the others on the court are.
- By keeping her closer to her graduating age group, this will make it easier for college coaches to find and evaluate her skill sets.
- Keep a close on her physical development; if she lags behind physically to her graduating year (since she is young), you should consider having her being redshirted her freshman year as part of the recruiting process.
Good luck with all the craziness, and I will close with this - Don't invite the Recruiting Vampire in your door this year......enjoy your kid being a fabulous freshman because the priorities of the college coaches and even the club program will not be the same as your family's.
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