One of the hardest parts about finding the right school to play college volleyball is that you have to get through a learning curve at the same time you’re searching.
After all, your college search only happens once.
While most of the people in your grade will wait until their junior year to start seriously considering schools, volleyball players have to start early and stay focused on the search for a good school because of when college volleyball recruiting happens.
I’ll list some of the major dates NCSA Athletic Recruiting uses as guidelines for our volleyball clients, but first, let’s talk about why knowing volleyball recruiting guidelines is so important. (In addition to knowing about dates like the beginning of the regular signing period, which was April 15.)
College Volleyball Recruiting Starts Early
We say it all the time: recruiting starts early. Earlier than you might think, and perhaps even earlier than it should. It’s all part of how well-connected the Internet has made of us. But what exactly does “early” mean?
Scott, who is the father of a Class of 2015 Division II volleyball recruit, recently attended a JVA volleyball tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, where numerous college coaches–including his daughter’s future coach–watched young volleyball players on over a hundred courts.
Scott asked his daughter’s coach, as well as coaches at various divisions of play, which players they were looking at.
“Our incoming freshman recruits,” was the response from most of them.
College volleyball coaches were at the tournament to watch players they had already recruited.
Scott pressed the coaches for more: if they were looking at any underclassmen in addition to seniors who would be joining their rosters.
The coaches were primarily paying attention to junior volleyball players who were already verbally committed, and at a few sophomores whom they had already been speaking to.
But in terms of discovering new talent, the coaches were looking at the Class of 2018–volleyball players currently in their freshman year.
When should you work on your college volleyball recruiting?
Here are a couple of guidelines to get you thinking about how you can fit playing college volleyball into your busy schedule–a scout can help you work on a schedule that’s more specific to your talents.
- Freshman Year: Research schools where you’d like to play. Make sure you understand the height and jump height most players at your position have at that division of play. This year, and sophomore year, remember that you can initiate contact with college coaches, but depending on their division, they might be restricted in contacting you.
- Sophomore Year: If you haven’t already filmed a highlight video, make sure you do, and that you have it uploaded to your online recruiting profile. Build relationships with coaches by emailing or calling them — always showing respect, being timely in your responses, and showing your passion for the sport.
- Junior Year: You’ll start to get an idea where you stand in coaches’ lists, especially at NCAA DI or DII levels — most of whom will have their rosters figured out by this point. DIII, NAIA and Junior Colleges will do most of their recruiting during your senior year, but you should continue to be proactive in thinking about schools where you’d like to play.
- Senior Year: When you’re on official visits (you only get five this year, remember), don’t forget to dress professionally and to be courteous — even if you know immediately upon setting foot on the campus that you won’t play there. Make sure you take care of all of your paperwork, from your college applications to the FAFSA. When you decide where you want to play, remember to inform other coaches of your decision, as well.
These general guidelines are a starting point, but everyone’s path to playing college volleyball is slightly different. A scout can help you figure out more precisely where you are in comparison to other volleyball players in your grade, and help you play at the right school. The best way to get started is by building your profile.