August 20, 2015

Position Switch and College Volleyball Recruiting

Hi coach -

Thank you for providing such a valuable service to all of us parents with volleyball playing daughters that want to get the most out of the limited playing years they have.

Here's our dilemma:

Daughter is going to be a freshman in high school this fall.  She has played on a prominent club volleyball team in our area since 12's, playing on the club's top team each year through this year at 14.  The club made her a setter at the beginning of her 13's club season, some 18 months ago.  She feels she is just now getting the hang of the position and is really starting to enjoy setting.  She is competing for the starting setting position on her varsity high school team and every indication is that she'll, at a minimum, be the backup on varsity.  

My daughter is 5'8", has grown an inch in the past year and might top out at 5'9" when all is said and done.  She's an athletic setter, very fast, has good hands and is a developing leader.  She is a very good defensive setter, she digs very well and is quick enough to get to many balls the bigger, taller setters can not.  She keeps many balls off the next with her quickness and betters poorly passed balls very well.  She seems to garner attention from opposing coaches and referees in matches she plays, approaching her and commenting on her good play.  

She recently attended a USAV HP camp - She had a great camp, was noticed by many of the coaches and approached for her good play.  However, one of the HP coaches commented that she would be a high level D1 recruit as a libero because of her quickness, volleyball IQ, leadership and passing ability.  He mentioned that a 5'8" setter will always have the deck stacked against her, right or wrong, and it will be an uphill battle for her to play that position at a high level D1 institution unless she has her club/high school coaches advocating for her.

So, my question, should she make the position switch?  If so, when?  Is it necessary?  I have seen high level college programs take setters and smaller OH and make them a libero or DS in college.  Do high level college coaches have the ability to identify an athlete at one position at club/high school, offer them a spot on their roster at another position based on the athlete's overall athletic ability?

Any help you can give would be appreciated. 



When I receive questions from families about their daughter's switching positions, as to better their chances of obtaining a college playing position (which is always the nice way of saying a scholarship).  And, my standard answer is to advise the family to ask their daughter which position she enjoys the most.

When the player plays the position he/she enjoys the most, they will be more successful.  The next step is to match their collegiate outreach to the specific playing ability of the athlete (along with academics, geography, social life, etc).  

Returning to your daughter, I would disagree with the advice of the HP coach from the camp for two reason:

1)  Many elite DI programs have non 6' setters on the roster this year (I just looked them up) - Penn State, 5'8"; WI, 5'10", FL, 5'9"; WA, 5'8"; TX 5'7"; NE 5'10", etc.  The key is these setters are athletic and have very good skill sets.

2)  The Libero position is the most competitive spot to earn a roster spot and/or a scholarship because of the sheer volume of quality back row players; it is a huge challenge to play at a high level DI program with any initial athletic scholarship money - The new protocol seems to be a 'walk on to scholarship' for back row players. To shift from a tough recruiting position to an even tougher recruiting position is not a logical position.  

There are occasions where college coaches may see a player in another collegiate position than what they are playing in high school, but that is the exception not the rule.  It is more common that a college coach recruits a player for one position, and if the program needs change, that player may be moved to another position. 

My advice to you is to ask your daughter what position she wants to play in college - Libero or Setter?  Then, move forward with a collegiate outreach process that matches the athletic, academic and geographic desires of your daughter.  Think playing position 1st...


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