June 1, 2015

Tall, late and managing College Volleyball Recruiting


First of all, thank you for such a great site! I've been looking at every volleyball resource I can with my daughter and yours has been very helpful.

My daughter is somewhat of a latecomer to the volleyball world. She is 15 and stands 6'4". Played basketball up until last year but never had much passion for it despite her height. We recently moved and visited the high school she will be attending next year as a sophomore. A woman walked by and was just about bowled over at the sight of her. She introduced herself as the volleyball coach and asked if my daughter played. She said that she didn't, and the coach asked if she would be interested in playing next year.

She's been looking to get into a new sport and I told her it might be a good way to make new friends, so she said yes. Coach joked that she wouldn't have let us leave otherwise, it's not every day they have a 6'4" girl walk through the door.

Since my daughter has never played before, the coach offered to give her private instruction sessions and have her work out with some of the other girls on the team. She just had her first one this week and really enjoyed it (middle and outside hitter... tall positions, I assume?) Coach said we should look into a club team for the summer.

I've talked to some of the other mothers with daughters on the team and there has been a general "where were you hiding her?" / "how has she never played before?" vibe. There's been more than a little college recruiting talk.

I suppose my question at this point if pretty general: What do you think we should keep in mind the most at this early stage? She's used to getting a lot of attention because of her height, but it's a little strange to barely start playing a sport and have people tell you that you're going to be swimming in scholarship offers. We're trying to take it slow.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read my message. It's longer than I anticipated so I won't blame you for not putting it on the site, but any piece of advice would be appreciated.

Thank you so much!



Thank you for your support of www.collegevolleyballcoach.com and I am happy to hear that the site has been helpful!

Your situation was more common a number of years ago; tall athlete from another sport takes up volleyball in high school.  With the expansion of sports into Junior high and the rise of club volleyball as a business, volleyball gets into the blood of athletes at a much younger age.  

Because of how crazy early that college volleyball coaches are recruiting today, your daughter's height will attract a lot of attention immediately and this attention will be based upon her potential. The old saying, "you can't teach height" applies here.

My suggestions, based upon if your daughter enjoys playing volleyball:

1. Have her continue with private lessons, but not with the high school coach, as this will protect your daughter from any 'favoritism' concerns with other players/parents.  You can find any number of private lesson opportunities with local clubs, even in the early summer.

2. Continue to have her work out with her high school team mates, and attend any open gyms or open sand volleyball opportunities.  Every touch on the ball will help her, and she is learning the entire game at this point in her development.

3. Explore a regional college/university all skills camp or two (or for that matter, a junior college or club program camp).  Again, she is learning the game and even though she is tall, it is better that she get touches on the ball in all the various disciplines.

4.  Start researching local club volleyball programs; there are a wide variety of clubs in most regions.  Those that are considered 'national' which travel the country playing elite level tournaments and training a number of days a week, along with 'regional' clubs which stay within the region and have limited practice opportunities. Be thorough in your evaluation of each club's costs, training facilities, quality of coaching, travel schedule, recruiting support, etc.

5.  Slow play everything with recruiting, except your conversation with your daughter as to determine what she is interested in academically, geographically and socially.  When college coaches find your daughter, they will be so very friendly and engaging (within the bounds of their recruiting rules….I hope…..); remember that their job is to recruit players who will help their program get better.  A large number of programs are going to engage, while they determine if your daughter will make them better, and understand this engagement is a 'fail safe' by them while they evaluate.  Always remember that this is a business for the college coaches, and do not get caught up in the whirlwind.

6.  Focus on improving skill sets and understanding the game.  Like with any recruit, the talent determines the opportunities.  Of course, her height will engage more colleges than a 5'11" players, but her choices will be a result of how talented she is.  

Good luck and I hope you are able to enjoy the volleyball life with your daughter!

Coach Sonnichsen

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