November 12, 2015

Volleyball Recruiting Combines

Good Afternoon Coach,

I had a question about College Showcases and wanted to see if you had changed/updated your opinion.  I searched the term and came up with a hit on an post dated February 14, 2011, titled “President’s Day Tourneys and Showcases”.   In that response you questioned the value of the Showcase when accompanied by a large weekend tournament.  Our local club is offering a showcase in December, not associated with any tournament.  The list of past college attendance shows mostly local colleges and many from the smaller divisions. My question to you, has your opinion changed on the Showcase?


Thank you for your email and your question is a topic which I have been meaning to update my opinion on.  The recruiting climate has changed in the years since my 2011 post.

These last few years have seen:

1. Continuous increase in the number of club volleyball players; it grows every year.  Not only total number of participants, but also the number of 'good' volleyball players.

2. Increase in the number of new club volleyball programs and the number of 'teams' within an established volleyball program - Club volleyball has become a big business.

3. Increase in the number of club volleyball tournaments, especially the large events - It is now routine for a couple to three National Qualifiers being played on the same weekend.

4.  Increase in the cost of attending club volleyball events; team entry fee, facility entry fee, hotels, gas, flights, head bands, etc. have all increased and significantly in some cases.

5. The number of collegiate programs has not increased, so the roster and scholarship opportunities have stayed flat.

6.  Because of the oversupply of quality high school age talent, college volleyball coaches (broad statement coming) are comfortable cutting a current player who is not meeting their expectations, and bringing in a new recruit.  It is easier to cut and recruit, than develop and mentor.

As to be transparent, I work for NCSA Athletic Recruiting and we have partnered with groups that conduct a series of combines, where I present my Recruiting Education Talk for the parents.  So, from my employment position, I support the use of combines by volleyball families.

From my position as the one and only, I have changed my viewpoint on combines as a recruiting tool to be employed by families - My belief is that they can be a beneficial supplement to a player's recruiting efforts.

The rationale behind my evolution in recruiting thinking:

1.  Combines provide equal exposure for every participant, unlike club volleyball.  It does not matter if you are the starter on club super duper or the 3rd string Libero on club no name; each player is going to have equal opportunity to demonstrate their skills sets.

2.  You get to determine the position you play in a combine.  Because of the needs of a team, there are often occasions where a player will have to play a different position, than what they are best at and/or want to play in college.  

3.  A small fee, for a huge upside.  Compared to the total cost of attending a major club volleyball tournament, the $50 to $125 combine fee is relatively small, and the potential is to get evaluated by a college program that becomes your collegiate home.

4.  Combines have become the discovery or first look platform.  In today's club tournament recruiting, college coaches are arriving with hundreds of names to evaluate, and may not have quality time to 'discover' talent.  A combine tends to be the opportunity to see a new player or find that hidden gem, which may have been missed earlier.

5.  For college coaches and club players, it is a dedicated, time efficient recruiting event.  The focus is players demonstrating talent and college coaches evaluating player's talent.  In 1 to 2 hours, both side of the recruiting equation can accomplish their goals, versus using 1 to 3 days.

6.  Absolute worst case, for the cost of a private lesson, the player gets a good, quick VB workout, the night before the club tournament, so they are ready to compete on the first serve of the match.

When looking at volleyball combines, there tends to be two types, testing and skill demonstrations.  NCSA has partnered with groups who conduct each type of volleyball combine.

The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) conducts a series of combines called The College Prep Combines.  These combines are volleyball physical testing, with a personality evaluation aspect.  For complete information, please visit click HERE.

Championship Combines conducts a series of combines which are focused on players demonstrating their volleyball skills in front of attending college coaches. For complete information, please click HERE.

It is best to think about volleyball combines as a recruiting tool.  Depending upon your recruiting status, a recruiting combine will have different value.  If you are a 6'3" OH and play on a nationally recognized club program, then a combine may not be needed to enhance your options.  But, if you are a good player who is on a small regional club or a talented middle (or setter/libero/outside hitter) who is not getting a lot of playing time because of your graduating class or height, then a combine can be a great vehicle towards additional exposure.

This all ties back into the new mindset of college volleyball recruiting - Recruiting is something which must be actively managed. Think about the goals of the player/family, determine which schools/regions are the bet fit, then employ an active outreach by using the available tools (combines, direct contact, recruiting services, video, etc) to achieve these goals.


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