Volleyball is one of the fastest-growing sports at both the collegiate and high school level. In 2018, nearly 450,000 high-school students participated in team volleyball at their school. And the sport’s explosive growth has also extended to the collegiate level. There are now more than 1,800 colleges in the United States that have girls’ volleyball teams and approximately 100 colleges with men’s volleyball.
All this means that volleyball has become a highly competitive scholastic sport for which the limited number of spots on collegiate-team rosters is ferociously contested. Volleyball camps, clubs and tournaments can offer an important competitive edge to high-school volleyball athletes who aspire to play at the collegiate level. In fact, for aspiring Division I players, attending at least one camp and participating in the USA Volleyball National Qualifiers is becoming an indispensable stop on the journey towards college-level play.
Choosing the right volleyball camp can be overwhelming due to the huge selection of potential volleyball camps available. The first and most-important step in determining what volleyball camp a student-athlete would most benefit from attending is to pinpoint at what level they are most likely to be able to successfully compete. Top-15 volleyball colleges all run highly respected camps. But these often-pricey experiences, which may be located hundreds or thousands of miles away from the student-athlete’s home, may not provide the best bang for the buck. This is especially true if the student in question is not likely to be actively recruited by that school or if they simply aren’t competitive or likely to become so at a Division-I program.
For the vast majority of high-school and younger players, far less-expensive volleyball summer camps that are located much closer to home will offer a significantly better value while fulfilling all of the main objectives of attending a volleyball camp.
The best-run volleyball summer camps work as a hybrid between live competition, expert-level clinic, athlete screening process and a forum for athletes and coaches from major colleges and universities to be introduced to one another. Youth volleyball camps can help student-athletes to see how they stack up to other college-bound players while also serving as a great way to smooth out the inevitable rough edges that exist in any young athlete’s overall game.
Importantly, attending a volleyball camp can give aspiring college athletes a strong sense of where they fit. High-school athletics can be extremely competitive. But few high-school athletes are truly prepared for just how giant the step up in skill level is when going from high school sports to even Division III collegiate competition. Volleyball camps can give students a realistic perspective on their own skillset, saving time, money and, at the same time, exposing the truly elite athletes to an important early step in the recruitment process.
Youth volleyball camps typically cover students ranging from 3rd to 12th grades. They can cost anywhere from less than $100 to well over $1,000. Specialty prospect camps at top-15 schools may cost parents significantly more due to travel expenses.
There are literally hundreds of volleyball camps throughout the United States. All of the top-15 volleyball schools run their own well-known camps. The two biggest-name camps are Stanford University’s volleyball camp and Northwestern Volleyball Camp in Chicago, with Northwestern Volleyball Camp being the most prestigious in the Midwest. Other renowned camps include Nike Volleyball Camps, Purdue Volleyball Camps, Libero Camps, Adidas Volleyball Camps and USA Volleyball Camps.
Of those, Nike Volleyball Camps and USA Volleyball Camps are the largest organization. Nike Volleyball Camp has literally hundreds of locations throughout the country. There is a good chance that a Nike Volleyball Camp will be taking place very near to your home.
All of these camps carry significant name cachet and provide world-class coaching, training, athletic measurements and competition. However, the thousands of locally organized volleyball camps available throughout the United States may often serve as a viable next-best option.
You may be asking, “How do I find youth volleyball camps near me?” NCSA has a number of useful pages to help students and parents find quality volleyball camps near them. Almost every mid-sized or larger town will have numerous volleyball camps. Regardless of whether a student attends a camp at their local high school or is invited to an elite-level college camp, it is imperative to understand how to get the most out of whatever camp they choose.
To get into the most elite volleyball camps, an invitation from a head coach or recruiter is often necessary. The best way to secure an invitation to such volleyball camps is often simply through superlative on-court performance throughout the regular season. But for various reasons, regular-season performance may not suffice to grab the attention of those running the top volleyball camps.
For students who may be attending smaller schools without noteworthy teams or those who are overshadowed by deep benches at highly competitive schools, highlight videos, making savvy use of social media and attending combines to give coaches a glimpse of objective measurables are all great ways to tease out an invitation to a top-level volleyball camp.
Volleyball camps can be divided into two groups according to whether they are overnight or daytime only and whether they are summer volleyball camps or taking place in the winter.
Overnight volleyball camps can offer some distinct advantages. In addition to providing more competition, drill and practice time, they can also offer campers the chance to bond in ways that daytime camps cannot. However, daytime-only camps are often considerably less expensive and can allow participants with busy schedules to accomplish other things throughout the camp’s duration.
For most attendees of volleyball camps that are located away from their hometown, overnight camps provide the strongest value. This is particularly true when large distances are involved as daytime-only camps at great distances may prove infeasible or cost-prohibitive.
The majority of volleyball camps take place in the summer when parents and students tend to have more obligation-free time. But increasingly, more winter volleyball camps are appearing. For the dedicated student-athlete who wants to give themselves every possible edge, these camps may offer a solid opportunity for continued skill building.
Just as there is a huge age range within sports below the collegiate level, there are also volleyball camps that cater to ages ranging from the 3rd grade right up through seniors in high school. Starting at around the high-school level, volleyball clinics, volleyball combines and camps also become stratified by the skill level being catered to.
At the younger age levels, camps are a great way to get potentially college-bound athletes moving towards the well-rounded skillsets that they will eventually need if they wish to play bigtime college volleyball. Up to around 9th grade, volleyball combines and camps are highly recommended and can give aspiring student-athletes a significant developmental boost as well as a leg up versus their peers.
However, for those student-athletes of high-school age who are serious about making it to collegiate sports, attending volleyball clinics, camps and volleyball combines is a necessity. For high-school athletes with collegiate aspirations, attending combines, where measurables are objectively recorded and showcased, is an important step towards developing a profile that can catch the attention of top recruiters. With only around 6 percent of high-school volleyball players going on to play in college, the exposure to coaches that volleyball clinics and volleyball combines can provide may ultimately make the difference between being recruited and slipping under the radar.
For top-level athletes, elite volleyball camps or prospect camps can help to showcase skills in front of coaches from some of the top volleyball schools. However, these are often offered on an invitation-only basis.
Other volleyball clinics may not require invitations and can be great opportunities to make connections with recruiters and coaches as well as to showcase skills. For athletes with the intention of trying for Division I teams, playing with volleyball clubs is often a necessity. Volleyball clubs that compete in the USA Volleyball National Qualifiers are considered a critical step for potential Division I players. Participating in volleyball clubs that compete at the national level is widely considered to be one of the most important ways to showcase skills against top national competition and to get noticed by elite programs’ coaches.
With only around 2 percent of female high-school volleyball players ultimately getting a full-ride scholarship, the competition to get noticed by college programs is intense. But this is even truer for male high-school volleyball players, who have less than a 1 percent chance of receiving a scholarship and just a 3 percent chance of playing at the college level.
Luckily, there are a few men’s volleyball camps. They can be somewhat harder to find locally than for girls. But for men who are serious about pursuing volleyball at the college level, attending volleyball clinics, volleyball combines and playing for volleyball clubs can be just as important as it is for girls.
Although the line between volleyball training camps, volleyball combines and volleyball clinics can frequently blur, a combine is typically a more skill-intensive event that is put on specifically so that athletes can document and showcase their skills to potential recruiters and coaches.
Although elite-level volleyball players will often already be in the sights of coaches and recruiters, there are many circumstances where regular-season play, playing on volleyball clubs and attending volleyball clinics have not generated direct interest by major schools. For talented athletes who wish to showcase their objective sport-specific athletic abilities, volleyball showcases and volleyball combines can provide the opportunity to unambiguously demonstrate athletic prowess directly before decision makers’ eyes. With those who are able to put forth dominant performances in combines, footage of drills, exercises and tests can also serve to nicely fill out a player’s highlight video.
For more advanced players with strong collegiate prospects, there exist more exclusive and demanding clinics and camps. Many of these are on an invitation-only basis. But students who are invited to an elite volleyball clinic or camp should not automatically assume that their attendance will result in a recruitment offer or scholarship.
Many such programs will deliberately invite 100 or more student-athletes in order to cover the costs of the programs. Many of these attendees will not be recruited into the program in question. Therefore, unless an athlete has been formally contacted by the school in question as part of the official recruitment process, parents and students should realize that a given elite camp may not be their best choice.
That said, almost all volleyball players who go on to play at the Division I level will have attended a prospect camp or elite clinic.
College volleyball coaches are full-time professionals who have one singular objective: fielding dominant, winning teams in order to further glorify their school. For this reason, they are looking for players who will help them build the most formidable teams possible.
Unfortunately, this means that there are some hard-minimum requirements that student athletes must generally meet. But for those that do meet the requirements, working hard on their game, attending the right camps and participating in tournaments can go a long way towards ensuring that they will catch the eye of recruiters looking to put together the next star roster.
In some cases, elite athletes who have caught the attention of recruiters and coaches due to standout seasons and individual excellence on the court may receive personal invitations to prospect camps. These can be a great opportunity for those who know or have strong reason to believe that they will be recruited by the particular institution running the camp.
However, those that are not being actively recruited by that institution or who may see multiple competitive offers in the future should be more cautious. As these camps often still require significant investments on the part of the athletes and parents, keep in mind that time and money may be better spent elsewhere.
NCSA, which stands for Next College Student Athlete, is one of the largest networks of student-athletes and college coaches and recruiters in the country. We help prospective college athletes navigate the often-overwhelming process of zeroing in on a program that fits their athletic as well as their academic goals.
For more information about how NCSA can help high-school volleyball players to better understand and prepare for the college-recruitment process. We have 35,000 college coaches in our network and you can sign up for a free recruiting profile or contact us at 1-866-495-5172.