How to Find the Right Volleyball Camp or Volleyball Tournament for Your Recruiting Process
Volleyball tournaments and volleyball camps can be a great way for athletes to compete in front of multiple coaches at the same time and show off their skillset. The most important events for college-bound volleyball players to attend are the USA Volleyball National Qualifiers and the early club season non-national qualifier tournaments (MLK weekend and President’s Day weekend multi-day tournaments). We’ll explain why these events are crucial to the recruiting process and we’ll dive into the other types of volleyball camps and recruiting events that athletes should attend to maximize exposure to college coaches.
Before the event: Always reach out to coaches of interest
Before any major events, athletes must reach out to coaches they are interested in and let them know when and where they will be playing. College volleyball staff members are busy and usually don’t have time to proactively keep track of every recruit’s calendar. Athletes need to remind coaches to watch out for them or the coach will likely focus their time on recruits who did reach out. Here’s an example of an email a recruit can send to a coach, reminding them of their upcoming tournament:
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Dear Coach Smith,
Thank you for responding to my last email!
I’m looking forward to competing in the MLK Tournament next weekend in Chicago at the Panther Arena. I noticed that you are on the list of coaches who will be attending. I’d love it if you could take a few minutes to watch me play on court #13 at 11 am CT. I’d really appreciate any feedback you have for me!
I’ve also reattached my highlight video here, and I have full-game footage if you’d like to see that.
Thank you and I hope to see you at the MLK Tournament!
USA Volleyball National Qualifiers: Essential for college-bound volleyball players
College-bound volleyball players must attend National Qualifiers, especially if they are interested in getting recruited by Division 1 coaches. These are massive volleyball tournaments that take place across the country through the months of March and April, with two or three volleyball tournaments hosted each weekend. The National Qualifiers determine which teams get a bid for the National Championships, and they attract the attention of hundreds of college coaches.
There are a few reasons these volleyball tournaments are so well attended by college coaches:
- Coaches have access to hundreds of talented recruits all in one place, so they can limit their traveling for the year.
- These volleyball tournaments take place in the college volleyball offseason, when coaches have more time to devote to their recruiting efforts.
- Organizations host National Qualifiers all across the country, which means that college coaches can likely find a few in their backyard and save time traveling.
When planning which National Qualifiers to attend, recruits should keep their recruiting goals in mind. Coaches typically attend events in their region. If a recruit is interested in Texas colleges, she should look into attending at least one National Qualifier in Texas. If the recruit’s club doesn’t plan on traveling to her regions of interest, she can sign up for a National Qualifier volleyball tournament as an individual, given there are spots available. When doing so, the athlete will need to know the five junior nationals divisions:
- Open Division: This is the most competitive division with the highest level of play. Teams must qualify to be in this division.
- National Division: This division is designed to showcase teams that are strong in their region. Teams must qualify to be in this division.
- USA Division: This division has similar level of competition to the National Division, with the goal of showcasing regionally strong teams; the only difference is in their qualification process.
- American Division: This is the last division that can qualify for a National Qualifier, and typically has a slightly lower level of play than the previous three divisions.
- Patriot Division: Unlike the other divisions, teams don’t have to qualify for this division. These teams also don’t get bids for the National Championship tournament.
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Volleyball recruiting tip: Athletes should make sure that they film games from these tournaments and create an updated volleyball recruiting video, preferably for each National Qualifier. Then, they should send the video out to coaches of interest.
Early season non-national qualifier tournaments: A prime time for recruiting
Recruits also really need to attend multi-day club volleyball tournaments at the beginning of the year. In January and February, college volleyball coaches really focus on their recruiting efforts, and they usually have money left in their recruiting budgets. As the club season progresses, the urgency of recruiting often fades for college coaches, as budgets run out and coaches prepare for the spring season. The most popular weekends for multi-day volleyball tournaments are Martin Luther King weekend and President’s Day weekend.
Attending the right multi-day tournament again comes down to picking a volleyball club team that aligns with an athlete’s recruiting goals. The recruit needs to make sure she’s at volleyball tournaments taking place in the region she wants to attend college to maximize her exposure to those coaches. Both the Junior Volleyball Association and USA Volleyball sanction volleyball tournaments across the country and post events on their websites. These will be the primary spots where families can look for MLK or President’s Day weekend tournaments in their area.Back to Top ^
Volleyball combines: Compete in volleyball drills, get your stats
During volleyball combines, athletes perform individual or position-specific drills, rather than competing in group or team play. This gives the college coaches in attendance the chance to see multiple repetitions of specific skills—almost like a real-life highlight video. As a bonus, athletes will leave their combine with their volleyball stats and a good indication of how they stack up fundamentally against other college-bound volleyball players.
For athletes interested in attending a volleyball combine, Championship Combines hosts them in cities across the U.S. Check out their schedule to find a volleyball combine.Back to Top ^
College volleyball prospect camps: Attend if you’re already getting recruited by the coach
College volleyball camps can be a great experience for college-bound volleyball players—as long as athletes go into the volleyball camp with the right expectations. Here’s what we mean: Athletes usually don’t get “discovered” at college volleyball camps. There will likely be over 100 athletes competing for the coach’s attention, and the coach already knows who they are interested in watching.
Instead, these camps provide athletes who are already getting recruited by that coach a great opportunity to visit the school, learn more about the coaching staff, tour the dorms, talk to an academic advisor and get a better feel for the school. In other words, recruits shouldn’t feel compelled to attend these volleyball camps unless they want to familiarize themselves with the school and the campus.
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Volleyball recruiting tip: If a recruit received a volleyball camp invite but they are unable to attend, they should reach out to the coach, thank them for the opportunity and politely let the coach know they won’t be able to make it. The athlete should try to arrange another time for the coach to watch them compete or they can send the coach their most recent highlight video to view.
Club recruiting showcases and practices: An intimate setting to compete in front of college coaches
Many clubs have started hosting recruiting showcases in which they invite college coaches (typically from the surrounding area) to come watch their athletes compete. College coaches might also stop by to watch a club team practice, especially if that coach has a good relationship with the club.
These events are typically less about the coaches discovering new talent and more about them evaluating athletes who are already on their list. As we’ve mentioned several times, athletes must pick a club team that supports their recruiting goals, and this is a great case for why that’s so important. Dozens of coaches might be invited to a club’s recruiting camp or practices, but if none of those coaches are from schools an athlete is actually interested in playing for, then these recruiting camps won’t be of much help.Back to Top ^
Don’t forget the follow-up
Athletes should ride the momentum of their volleyball camp, volleyball tournament, combine or other recruiting event by following up with college coaches. The athlete needs to send coaches they’re interested in their updated volleyball recruiting video, as well as any new stats. Athletes should update this information in their recruiting profile and thank the coach for the opportunity and ask for feedback on what skills to work on.Back to Top ^
Find volleyball camps near you
Check out our list of upcoming volleyball camps, combines and showcases and find the right event for your recruiting process.