April 20, 2020

Evaluating College Volleyball Programs!

Dear Coach,

I am looking for the best way to identify colleges programs that meet the following criteria:

1.  Quality Coaching Staff.
2.  Interested in an athlete despite height.
3.  Finding programs/coaches who like to run a 6-2 offense with their setters.
4.  Team Culture is a high priority.

Any thoughts on how to identify these schools/programs would be greatly appreciated.


If I had a metric which could compile and rate all the various college volleyball programs based upon your criteria, I would be living on an island in the South Pacific eating fresh fish and tropical fruit because I would be a multi millionaire....

In year's past, finding programs which consistently scored high in the referenced criteria was easier than today. This was due to the fact that coaching changes did not occur as frequently, players did not transfer with such ease, the athletic conferences were a bit more stable and the recruiting process was much slower for both college programs and families.

For criteria #1 and #4, Quality of Coaching Staff and Team Culture, families need to visit campus to watch practice and to attend matches.  This is something which is impossible to ascertain via the internet or on TV.  Only by watching practice and watching a match in person, can a family see how a Coaching Staff operates and how a Team engages.  In addition, not all campus visits should be arranged via the volleyball program; remember that the priority of any volleyball staff is recruiting, so they will always put on the best show for visiting families.  Better to sometimes just slip into practice and watch.

For criteria #2, Athlete Height, that can be researched on line by reviewing the team roster for the current years and the program archives for previous years.  But, each category of college volleyball will have a difference 'baseline' of what is tall versus not tall.  When I coached NCAA Division II for one season, after being a DI coach for almost 15 years, the first day in the gym with my DII team, I thought the net was set too high.  My reference point for player height was mid-major DI; once we got into the DII season, my team was the same height as the other DII teams we were playing.  Maybe you could look for outliers on rosters; a 5'8" outside hitter on the roster of Michigan, or a 5'4" setter on the roster of Texas Women's University....but, and there is always a but, are these two examples scholarship players or walk-ons?

Criteria #3, Offensive System, is just watching volleyball matches of potential schools, but (again, another but), college programs will change offenses based upon many factors.  Rarely is a college program committed to always running a 6-2 offense (either the Old School type...You're my boy Blue!...with 2 setters that also hit front row - or the New School type with setters that substitute out front row for hitters), so basing a recruiting evaluation upon this offensive system is risky.  The year over year recruiting success, along with the player position make up and related talent will determine if a program would move to or stay with a 6-2 offense.

I wish I had a better answer or evaluation system for you, because I would be enjoying a wonderful lunch of grilled mahi mahi with sliced mangos!

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