June 19, 2017

College Volleyball Summer Recruiting

College volleyball recruiting is a year round endeavor for coaches but there are slow times in the recruiting calendar and we are entering one of these 'slow' times.

Currently, college volleyball coaches are coming back from vacations (I know this because I used vacation time in late May and early June, and I see all the Facebook posts from my coaching friends in such exotic locations as Pensacola, Florida), going to USA Volleyball Nationals or the AAU Championships if the budget allows, along with preparing for the 863 camps they will run in July and finally making those last minute preparations for the fall season (which is time consuming because of all the details which must be checked, double checked, signed, copied, approved and submitted).  

The National Championships (USA Volleyball and AAU's) are more see and be seen, rather than the active recruiting of the winter spring club season with the National Qualifiers and Super Regionals.  The Championships are where college coaches check in with their committed/signed athletes, take a 2nd or 3rd look at players in their databases, and generally walk around like human sign boards so their school can be recognized by that needle in a haystack great kid from Twin Falls, Idaho.

This quadrangle of vacation, championships, camps and season preparation, conspire to drive VolleyFamilies to distraction because the recruiting tempo and communication have changed.  Parents and players, especially rising Juniors and Seniors, get panicked because they are coming off a very active recruiting period (the winter/spring club volleyball season) and now........recruiting has gone into slow motion.

Online and in person (yes, I have old school face to face conversations with families while I am at events for NCSA Next College Student Athlete), I encourage families to stay focused and patient, rather than PANIC (at the Disco).  During the spring, many VolleyFamilies were engaged in active communication (either email/text/voice) with college coaches and then, these conversations slowly died.  All too often, the parents/players feel that they will not get recruited next season and must take whatever offer they can at this moment.

As I have written in the past and spoke of with VolleyFamilies, college coaches are playing possum right now - We have purposely slowed down the recruiting because we need to focus on other areas, and we don't want to get busy with recruiting until later in the fall.  

Once we have got through the camp season, through the arrival of our team, and into our collegiate season, then we will once again engage in active recruiting.  We go 'quiet' in recruiting because we want time to determine exactly what we need in recruits for the next two seasons - We won't know what we need until the end of the current collegiate season.

College coaches, in all divisions/classifications, have learned that today's collegiate volleyball life is fluid.  Gone are the days where a coach can bank on having a job for 8 years and needing 3 athletes per year. Because of this, we employ a two part recruiting mentality - 1) the for sure needs; 2) the post season needs.  #1 is fairly easy; we are graduating 3 Middle Blocker's in 2020, so we will for sure need a MB or two in 2020.

#2 is a learned response - Stuff happens after the collegiate season which affects our immediate recruiting needs:

- We get fired.
- We get a new job; new coaches bring in new recruits because the days of the Athletic Director saying graduate all the current players and slowly build up your team are gone; everyone wants to win now and the victims are often the current players.
- We get threatened with termination; Athletic Director says we need to win next year or we are gone which results in coaches doing everything they can to bring in day one impact players (international, transfers, etc).
- Player quits; this is more and more common because players are committing in kindergarten and when they actually arrive to campus, they don't like the coaches, players, dorms, food, team mates, academics or campus.
- Coach cuts player(s); developing talent has given way to recruiting talent.  It is easier to cut and recruit, than train and develop.
- Player suffers career injury; this happens less than in the past because of the big strides in sports medicine. But it does happen, so college coaches suddenly need a passing Outside Hitter that they didn't need a week ago.

VolleyFamilies cannot control the recruiting process but they can manage the process.  Effective management is understanding the protocols and timing of today's recruiting process.

My suggestions:

1)  Accept that this is a slow time, and focus more on volleyball and vacation and camps and recovery and rehabilitation, instead of recruiting.

2)  After Nationals, or if you are not at Nationals, allow your body and mind to recover and recharge.  Small injuries should be rehabilitated and you should enjoy a solid block of non volleyball time.

3)  Focus on skill development; your ability will determine your opportunity.  Either in camps or clinics or private lessons, if you have listened to your coaches, you should know exactly which skill sets you should be improving.

4) Keep in contact with those programs you are currently engaging with (even if they have gone quiet) but understand that this is a slow time for all.

5)  Review your recruiting efforts to this point - Have you been writing Top 25 schools and none have replied?  Then you are shooting to high.  Have you written the bottom 25 schools and all have offered you a scholarship?  Then you should consider reaching out to a higher ranking of schools.  Have your academic goals changed?  Are you more or less open to various regions of the country? Etc, etc, etc...

6)  Enjoy your high school season.  This is something which I think gets lost in the club volleyball and college recruiting culture.  I understand that some high school teams are great while others can be a near waste of 2 hours.  Beyond golden (like Greenwood) or garbage, you are still representing something which is larger than yourself and will reside in the record books.  

7)  As late October rolls around, reengage actively with your current schools and reach out to as many schools which fit your recruiting comfort zone.  Remember that the collegiate seasons' start to wind down in late October and finish in mid-November - this is when the collegiate recruiting craziness starts up full tilt and you want to be front side of this madness.

In closing; stay recruiting patient now and focus inside to set the table for a successful winter recruiting.


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