August 7, 2014

The NBC Series: College Volleyball

"The NBC Series" is a re-posting of select volleyball articles that were published in the NBC Camps newsletters from 2008-2010. Every summer, I reflect on my life-changing 13 years of my time with NBC Camps. Because I will not able to publish new blog material until late August, these auto-postings will be up weekly for some throwback reads. The articles have been edited and updated as needed for 2014.

So You Want To Play College Volleyball...

First published April, 2010


If you are one of the incredibly skilled players who catches the college coach’s eye and has already been recruited and offered a scholarship – good for you!

Unfortunately, that’s not the case for 90% of us.

Any college sport requires serious commitment and serious work before you even look at that letter of intent. You need to be ready to market yourself as an athlete and a personality that will fit well with the team you are trying to make.

Coaches won’t even bother bringing you onto the campus for a practice if their first impression of you is poor. This impression is established immediately through your communication skills. You have to remember that college coaches expect to coach adults, therefore, we are looking to recruit athletes with mature qualities such as honesty, mental toughness, and respect.

Here are four active steps to help propel you to the forefront of any college coach’s recruiting list.

1. Do your homework. 

Research ahead of time what area of the country you’d like to live in, enrollment sizes, urban vs. rural, private vs. public, the majors you are interested in, and be honest about what divisions in which you can potentially compete.

NCAA Division 1 is definitely the most competitive; NCAA Division 2 and some high level NAIA Division 1 schools are comparable, and NCAA Division 3 and lower level NAIA schools are very similar.

Every school has a different balance of athletics, academics, on-campus social life, and local attractions. It is important for you to have at least a general idea of “your perfect college.” Once you’ve established some parameters, find all the schools that fit your description. This is your foundation.

2. Create your personal profile. 

There are a lot of recruiting agencies and companies that can do this for you, but it’s not really necessary to have them put it together. We see so many profiles that they tend to blur together anyway.

You want to be organized and professional, but you can do this by putting together an athletic/academic resume on your own, or with the help of your school college counselor.

Be sure to include: your name, contact information, GPA, SAT/ACT scores, community involvement, academic honors, athletic honors, years of volleyball experience, kinds of experiences, positions played, height, weight, standing reach, block touch, approach touch, recent statistics, and any other athletic info you have available.

3. Have film available. 

You are so fortunate to live in a day and age where information is constantly accessible through the internet. No regular person could put up videos online when I was in high school. Now it’s simple and free to just copy the link to your YouTube account where a coach can see your skills. It’s also more convenient for the coaches, instead of giving them a DVD they have to find a player for, and time to watch it.

You need to make at least four kind of videos. Different coaches want to see different things; if you make all these options available, it will be easy for us to find what we’re looking for. You should have a full match film, a partial match film (1-2 games is enough), a highlight reel from matches, and a skills video from practice.

It’s best to set up the camera in a wide angle so it captures the full court. If you can also include a short introduction video where you speak directly to coaches about your strengths, it shows your communication skills and personality in another light.

4. Make the effort in the details. 

Communicate to the coaches what you are looking for in a college: kind of playing style and goals for your volleyball career, also what major and vocational career you're interested in pursuing. Say things like, "I am definitely interested in the Journalism emphasis in your Communications department," and "My beliefs match up well with the doctrinal statements at your school," and "I'm really looking to become actively involved with (name a variety of the programs you found that the school has)."

You want to communicate that you will be a good fit for their school and their volleyball program. Be professional, but be approachable; make sure all grammar and punctuation is correct, and include contact information for your parents, coaches, high school counselors, and yourself. Communicate that you would like to talk with them over the phone and eventually visit the school to meet the team and tryout.

Yes, college visits can get expensive. But after your initial contact with coaches, you can begin to narrow down your top choices to two or three schools. You really do need to visit all of these schools, meet the volleyball teams, observe the coach’s style, stay in the dorms, and sit in on classes. A website cannot do justice to the actual feeling you experience while on campus.

And remember, you want to be marketable. High grades and SAT scores are always more attractive to coaches because they know you have the probability to succeed in college level academics. Earn as many scholarships as you can through academics, community service, and local organizations. Be the well-rounded person every coach wants to add to their program.

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