I have a 14-year old daughter, whose been playing travel club volleyball for the past years as s DS/L at the U15 level. This summer she made the varsity roster for her high school team and is part of the rotation (*I've read "To Play or Not to Play High School Volleyball"). She loves the sport and wants to play in college at the DI or DII level. For added exposure to such schools would you advise she attend the combines and showcases now as a freshman or wait until she's older? Also can you tell me the pros and cons of attending such workouts? Lastly, would be it benefit her to attend the summer camps and clinics of the colleges that she's interested in attending?
Thanks and I look forward to reading your reply.
Before I answer your question, I want to be transparent in the fact that NCSA Next College Student Athlete (my day job) is partnered with a number of recruiting combine groups and that I provide the parent recruiting education talk at many of these combines.
There are many combines available each year; whether stand alone combines or held the night before a club tournament. Combines have become popular because they can provide equal opportunity exposure to college coaches, for about the price of a private lesson in club. With a combine, it does not matter if you are the star of your club team or if you hardly ever set foot on the court; a quality combine provides equal court time and touches for each positional player.
For the college coach, a well run combine allows for the opportunity to see a large group of athletes, divided by position and/or graduate year, in an efficient time frame. Club volleyball events are long and chasing players/court times around a huge convention center can be a challenge; it is nice to have a combine which supplements a large event (more bang for my recruiting budget).
Player attendance at a combine should be determined by 3 factors; 1) what is your graduation year, 2) what is your position, 3) what is your ability.
Graduation Year - In general, combines are more appropriate for Juniors and Seniors who are sill actively involved in the recruiting process. Also, most of the attending colleges are looking at upperclassmen for their recruiting efforts.
Position - Combined with graduation year, your playing position can influence when to attend a combine. In general, outside hitters and middle blockers gets recruited before setters and liberos. If you have read this blog or Inside College Volleyball (greatest book every written on college volleyball and recruiting!), then you have also read that Libero's are last in recruiting.
Ability - If you are an elite, early developing athlete, then it make sense to attend a combine as a freshman or even an 8th grader. If you know you will have a later growth spurt or you are just getting your volleyball game into shape, then waiting until your an upper classman makes sense.
The last thing I will say about combines, is that because of the lower cost (when compared to the other crazy expensive areas of club volleyball), sometimes it is good to attend a combine as a freshman or sophomore, just to get comfortable with the flow of the event and how to perform in such an environment.
My opinion of college camps/clinics for recruiting, often expressed at my NCSA Recruiting Talks, is they are not the best use of your recruiting dollar or time. For training or a volleyball vacation, college camps can be great. But for recruiting evaluation and campus understanding, better to go visit the school outside of volleyball. College camps are not the reality of the college volleyball program; camps are the Disney version of the program.
Good luck this club season!