Getting recruited for volleyball is more complex than many athletes and parents think, and is somewhat subjective because there are few normed 'hard' stats involved, unlike what occurs in individual sports. The stats that do exist are collected during high school volleyball season, and college coaches generally distrust these because of the wide variations in playing ability across small and large schools, and throughout various regions of the country. This can make it challenging to get recruited for volleyball.
The athletic playing field is leveled in Club volleyball where teams compete in either power or area leagues locally, and participate in national qualifying tournaments in discreet divisions. However, no stats that can help you get recruited are kept in Club Volleyball other than wins and losses, so college coaches either travel to the national qualifiers to see players live, or rely on a combination of video, coaches recommendations, and a player's personal and academic profile when recruiting for volleyball.
You can see where we are going with this: the process is not a science, and therefore it is to a players' advantage to present themselves in the most positive manner possible and to make it easy on college coaches by having all their scores, stats, grades, video, team history, and coaches recommendations all together in one central location, so coaches don't have to piece together a player's complete profile from a string of disjointed emails. For this, we recommend building your own volleyball recruiting webpage that you have control over, rather than using an expensive recruiting service or other non-updatable online profile pages.
Want to get noticed by and in contact with NCAA Division 1, 2 & 3 volleyball coaches? Maybe even increase your chances of getting one of those highly coveted volleyball scholarships? Learn more about how to get recruited for volleyball, and then take our recommended next steps to boost your exposure as a high school athlete.
How to Get Recruited for Volleyball, A Step by Step Guide
- Initial contact from coach or by the player. The recruitment process for college sports typically begins with an initial introduction/interest letter sent by the coach to an athlete, or an email directly to the coach from a player. Coaches typically send form letters to hundreds or thousands of athletes as a “first sweep” to assess interest among recipients and introduce their program to prospective recruits. These letters often include basic questionnaires for athletes to fill out and send back. Just because you received one of these mass-market emails - often quite personalized with a "Dear John" salutation - directly from a coach does not mean s/he is definitely interested in recruiting you. Although college coaches do aggressively seek out the top athletes on competitive Club teams, there is still much success that can be had by players that make the first contact to coaches via email, and then follow-up. In fact, that is how the majority of student athletes get recruited.
- Base evaluations. If a coach continues to be interested in an athlete after initial contact is made, he/she will follow up with additional desk research. The coach will search online for additional information about the athlete, such as his/her academic portfolio, test scores, GPA, game statistics, and performance records. The coach will also start reviewing video footage and examining the athlete’s specific strengths and weaknesses. At this point, the coach might begin to rank the athlete according to factors such as estimated ability, potential, and academic eligibility. Coaches also make their rounds at the USA Volleyball national qualifying tournaments, and sometimes even visit regional league Power League tournaments in the upper divisions.
- Campus visit. After a series of personal interactions, the typical next step in the recruitment process is a campus visit. At this stage in the process, the coach is looking to ensure that the athlete is comfortable with the school and the team. The coach also has a chance to interact with the athlete in a new environment and expose the athlete to college life. If the campus visit goes well, the next step in the process is usually the extension of an offer.
Unique Features of the Volleyball Recruitment Process
Getting recruited for volleyball in the U.S. competitive, and at times can seem political or unfair. As volleyball grows in popularity among both male and female athletes, the recruitment process has become increasingly complex. Specific features of the volleyball recruitment process that make it unique among other sports include:
- Initial contact: The NCAA allows limited contact between coaches and high school volleyball athletes during sophomore year. High school volleyball players are allowed to receive initial contact from colleges in the form of documents like brochures, camp invites, and questionnaires. Athletes are allowed to initiate calls with coaches, but coaches are not allowed to initiate calls with athletes during sophomore year. View the NCAA’s college-bound athlete guide for more information, including contact rules and timelines according to specific division levels.
- Recruitment periods: Heavy recruitment for volleyball players begins on September 1st of junior year, and athletes are allowed to make unlimited “unofficial” visits to colleges at any point during both their sophomore and junior years (except during specified “dead periods”). During an athlete’s senior year, recruitment intensifies. Official visits and off-campus contact are allowed. Athletes may make one official visit to up to five Division I schools and unlimited official visits to schools DII and below. View the NCAA’s college-bound athlete guide for more information.
- Scholarships: Scholarships abound for women's volleyball; perhaps that's why we've seen such an increase in Club volleyball participation - probably the most significant feeder to college scholarship programs. All the more reason to contact coaches at your choice schools and inquire early in the process. Coaches love taking calls from kids. It demonstrates the student's interest and commitment to the recruiting process. Note that women's beach volleyball and men's indoor volleyball are considered an "equivalency" sports by the NCAA, which means that a set amount of scholarship money can be dispersed among multiple players who are able to receive between 25% and 100% of a full scholarship amount. Although equivalency sports give coaches some flexibility in roster size, the total roster size for women's beach volleyball is capped by the NCAA at 14. Furthermore, if a university does not offer women's indoor volleyball in addition to women's beach volleyball, the total amount of scholarship funds allowed for women's beach volleyball increases.
- What About Ivy League Scholarships for Volleyball? The Ivy League schools stand separately in that they do not give athletic scholarships. However, coaches at most D1 schools are able to influence admissions decisions if an athlete's grades and test scores are within range. Put bluntly, at the Ivy's, having strong athletic skills and a good academic profile can be a student's way in. And for many parents, that's enough because once admitted, there are a plethora of academic scholarships available to athletes.
The Role of Recruiting Agencies
Because of the money at stake, many athletic recruiting agencies have emerged to assist all parties involved in the volleyball recruitment process.
The success levels and value of these agencies is highly debated -- although they do reduce the burden of the recruitment process on the athlete and his/her family, they lose the “personal touch” of one-to-one contact between the player and the coach. Furthermore, the adoption of these services by college coaches across the country is anything but consistent. Whereas some coaches say that they “trust [agencies’] judgements and will take a look at the athletes sent our way,” others say that they immediately delete emails from agencies and consider them “equivalent to spam.”
With this in mind, it’s even more important that high school athletes do everything they can to help themselves stand out and make the recruitment process easy for college coaches. By establishing his/her own independent online profile with detailed academic and athletic information, a high school volleyball player can simplify the recruitment process for a coach and stand out among other players. A player’s online profile should include all basic athletic and academic information and records, as well as video clips. A Division III study by the NCAA concludes that 80% of coaches watch videos sent to them. For help setting up your own online athlete profile, contact us".
Get Out to Summer Camps
Because NCAA rules prohibit coaches from talking to players during tournaments and at other times during the recruiting process, it is advantageous to attend volleyball summer camps after your freshmen, sophomore and junior years. On their own campuses, the rules relax, and the coaches can get a sense of your work ethic and coach-ability - two intangibles that are important in the recruiting process. Colleges usually post summer camp schedules by the end of January each year.
Why Do I Need an Online Profile?
If you play a team sport, like volleyball, basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, etc., the recruiting process is somewhat subjective because unlike individual sports like swimming or track that have hard metrics with which coaches can compare athletes, volleyball, for example, has none. Yes, there are stats of kills, digs per set, assists, etc. reported in MaxPreps, but the problem that most college coaches have with high school stats is that they are not all created equally. A player in a D1 high school school faces much stiffer competition than a player in a D5 school, so even if your D4 or D5 school was successful in your county, region, or state, college coaches might not take you seriously because they know that players from smaller schools tend to be smaller and less skilled than their D1 and D2 counterparts. This is not a slight against D4 and D5 high schools; it is just a reality that by having a smaller population of athletes to choose from, the teams tend not to be as competitive. There are exceptions to this rule, of course (look at Branson in Ross, CA), but by and large that is the reason why high school athletics teams are broken up by school size.
Therefore, it’s really important that athletes who are competing for scholarships and college admissions based on sports participation establish a presence on the web that communicates to college coaches and recruiters that they are fully committed to playing sports in college, and makes it easy for college coaches to find all their grades, test scores, transcripts, film, and profiles all in one convenient online location. Your objective in building an online profile should be to put your best foot forward and make it easy for a college recruiter to say “yes” to you.
Why Should I Include Grades and Test Scores with My Profile?
Most colleges require their athletics teams to keep a minimum average GPA. Therefore, coaches favor athletes who can contribute to this requirement: all things being equal, a coach will recruit a player with a 3.4 high school GPA over a player with a 2.8 GPA. In choosing an online tool to build your profile, be sure to choose one that allow you to attach and post – not just state – your GPA and SAT/ACT scores. And your parents will probably insist that sensitive information be password protected like we do at AthleticsRecruiting.
Although getting recruited for volleyball is competitive, it is also exciting. Your skills are your most important asset, but the ability to convincingly package your accomplishments together with your grades, test scores, stats, coaches’ recommendations, and video helps you make a good impression on college coaches, and makes it easy for them to choose you over others.