July 10, 2017

Club Volleyball position and College Volleyball Recruiting

My daughter is just finishing her 14's club season on a top 10 team in the country.  She is 6'1" left handed setter and right side.  She has started the recruiting process with some top volleyball Universities and although she already doesn't like the process, she does want to play in college. Up until this season she has done both setting and attacking, but this year her club coach decided to only have her attack from all six rotations and she didn't do any setting, even though before tryouts it was communicated that she would be able to continue to do both.

During a recent visit with a college coach they talked more in terms of setting (they saw her video from her 13's club season) or at minimum doing both, this team currently has a player both setting and attacking.  She loves doing both setting and attacking, but she isn't getting the training as a setter and she just isn't ready to make a choice of one over the other yet even if it is being made for her.

Now to the main question, when tryouts come next fall for club, should we consider changing clubs in an effort to allow her to both set and hit or stick with our current club?  Unfortunately, our region only has one team at this age which will be successful at any of the larger tournaments. How important is that?  And she now has friends on her current team since she has played on it the last three years.

So, is it better to stay more versatile, but play on a team with less talented teammates and ok coaches or continue to play with good teammates and good coaches, but then most likely staying with one position?  Although, I guess there is no guarantee that switching clubs will allow her to play both positions since they could change their minds too.



Club volleyball can be a unique situation.  There is the dynamic of players paying to play (and when you pay for something, you have the right to question what you are paying for), the desire of coaches to win matches, and the needs of the team.  In a perfect club season, these three avenues all move forward together seamlessly.

As players get older and the ugly monster of college volleyball recruiting enters the room, club volleyball teams can get downright complicated.

With your daughter's age and her height, you will need to be more focused on the recruiting process than other families.   You need to get one answer from your daughter, to guide you with next year's club volleyball and college recruiting - What position does your daughter want to play in college?

This can be a tough question for a 15 year old to answer, but in today's collegiate recruiting process and with her height, you must ask.

Even though you have visited with a collegiate program that has a player hit and set, this is rare at the elite volleyball program level and realistically should not be the recruiting goal.  Your daughter needs to decide if she wants to be an attacker or a setter in college.  

Club volleyball can serve three purposes: 1) Creates an empowering environment for youth, 2) Develops volleyball abilities, 3) Is a vehicle for players to promote themselves to college volleyball programs.

Your club choice must be driven by your daughter's position choice - It makes no sense to play as a hitter with a good club, if you really want to be a setter.  Better to set with a lessor club, because at least the setting skills will be practiced and improved.  Winning at larger tournaments does not matter to college coaches; we recruit the player not the team.  If your daughter has the ability to make my college team better, I will recruit her, if not, then I won't.

While there are no 'guarantees', parents must remember that they are paying money to participate; this is not high school or the city youth league.  This is an expensive athletic proposition, and parents must be respectively clear on their expectations.  I don't suggest a parent dictate to the coach what systems to run, but it is well within the paying parental rights to expect the coach to honor what was communicated and agreed upon when the family joined the team.

My suggested steps in preparation for next club season:

1) Make a position choice; setting or hitting (possibly setting and hitting, but setting must be in the equation - But, from a recruiting perspective, college coaches want setter who can run a 5-1 and manage a team).

2) At the club tryouts be extremely clear as to what your expectations are and reference the past season's situation.  For talented, tall freshman, this is an important college evaluation and recruiting year.

3)  Before committing to a club, communicate with the coach and the club director your expectations and get their commitment as to what your daughter's role will be.  If they hesitate or talk out of both sides of their mouths, then you should not commit to that club.

4) Keep your primary focus on skill development; remember that college coaches recruit the player and not the team.  

Good luck!


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