What Are College Volleyball Coaches Looking For?


We had this article sent in by one of our members and felt the information was great stuff to share with the masses.  It was written by a sports journalist and the feedback is directly from college volleyball coaches that were attending a huge qualifying tournament in the U.S.  Over 4,000 really good players were in attendance and the college coaches from all over were there to do personal evaluations, etc.  Many of the coaches were looking at freshmen and sophomores, but also had their eyes on some middle school and elementary level players.

Here are some common denominators from what the coaches shared:

* Kids are not proactive enough in recruiting. They continue to think they will get discovered at events. The remarkable 6’ 2” gazelles will usually do well, but there are a lot of good players that need to be doing more than simply trusting the Club process to lead to great offers. They do not reach out to college coaches like they should. Families too often think the recruiting process is supposed to come to them. These college coaches are looking for qualified kids that really want to play for them, and know how to reach out to them.

* It is amazing the academic packages that can be put together for good, smart athletes outside D1.

You often hear in recruiting that coaches recruit “off lists.” In St. Louis I walked from court to court and literally looked at the lists in their hands or on their University Athlete (a volleyball specific recruiting device).

A Coach from Oklahoma came with ‘a list’ of 25 prospects. A Univ. of Cincinnati coach came with a list of 50, and hoped to leave with a list of 100. A Central Michigan coach had a list of 100 to see in person. The Rockhurst coach had a list of 30. North Dakota State, 20. An Ole Miss coach showed me her list that had 14 she absolutely had to watch and 60 that she hoped to watch.

I talked to that Ole Miss Coach and several others to get valuable information for you. The Ole Miss Coach was standing by the court of a clash of Club Volleyball powers. One team featured a remarkable 8th grade outside hitter. A coach from national champion Penn State was videotaping the young lady with her Flip Camera. Several other coaches were constantly jotting notes on her and other players in their University Athlete devices in their hands.

“I watched this girl as a sixth grader and put her on top of my list,” said the Ole Miss assistant coach. “She’s that good.”

“I have a list of 14 that I will definitely watch. They were either on our list, or they have shown an interest in us and got on our list that way. Too many kids come to these tourneys and expect to be seen. If you haven’t sent me something by email or contacted me and tell me you want to be seen, I may not see you. Too many kids sit around and wait. They think they are really good. You see how many courts are here. You can get lost in here.”

“Academics are very important. One of the things we don’t want to deal with is someone with questionable academics. Our team goal is to have a 3.5 GPA.”

“If a kid is rated here (she raised her hand fairly high) and there is a player that is rated a little lower, if that lower rated player really wants to play for us, I will go with her rather than fight 8 other schools for the highest rated player. We want young ladies that really want to play for us and go to our school.”

“Regarding video, we like video show from behind the baseline at the same level of action, so we can see how high they can get. We like highlights on a tape, whatever they can do to show the most contacts. An outside, the most swings. A setter, the most possible sets from the front row and back. Defense, a lot of serve and receive passes. Sometimes we get just defense. We also like several minutes of continuous video, but we like it where the time between serve is cut out.

I moved around a little bit and struck up a conversation with a coach on the University of Cincinnati staff (D1).

“We have 50 players here we are targeting and hope to come away with a list of 100 (there were 4500 players at the event). We are done with our class of 2011 recruits (current 11th graders) except we are looking for a middle hitter.”

“Athletes can contact me. That means a lot, how they carry themselves on the phone. Some are good. Some are nervous. Some think they are bothering us. No one would ever bother us. “

“We look at things like height, jump, athleticism, quick feet, good arm swing, and intangibles like attitude.”

“Regarding video, the biggest thing is they need something that points out who they are on tape. Sometimes it’s hard to see and it’s not always good enough if we are told ‘she is #12 and on the left.’ An arrow or circle is helpful.”

“Families should visit as many schools as possible. This event is in St. Louis. They should visit the University of St. Louis while here and Washington University.”

“We want people who want to play for the University of Cincinnati.”

I walked over and talked with a coach at Division Two Rockhurst (Kansas City). Here are his thoughts on volleyball recruiting:

“I came here with a list of 30 to make sure I see in person.”

“Things that get my attention would be things like their passing as a Libero, their hitting. When someone BANGS one, it gets you. I look for good athletes.”

“Regarding funding, we cut and paste. It is $26,000 to go to our school. An athlete with a 3.8 or 3.9 and a 27 or 28 on the ACT can get significant academic money, around $12,000, and then we have athletic money. We like smart kids who can play. It’s very important if a kid can get academic money. “

A Coach from the Virginia Tech University staff was very serious as he talked about academics.

“Kids have got to understand how important grades are in 9th and 10th grades. Bad grades in 9th grade are hard to make up. If they want to play D1, they should take the SAT in the sophomore year at least once, to get a feel for what they need to work on. A kid that has a 600 is off our recruiting list. One with a 1000 or 1200 (out of 1600) is on.”

“Communication is key in recruiting, especially at a young age. Are they confident enough to call us? A quality kid, they never inconvenience us when they call. This is what we do (recruiting) for a living. I talk to recruits that call me on the phone every day. If they are not on our list or not good enough, we will tell them.

I moved over a few courts and talked with a Big Ten Conference (Division One) coach from Indiana University:

“We are here focusing on sophomores. We look at leadership qualities. What else are they involved with as far as extracurricular activities. We watch their court personality. Are they talking? Are they aggressive? Do they communicate? Do they let balls drop? At some point we will ask questions to see how competitive they are. Do they play other sports? That’s important. Do they like board games? Will they do almost anything to win?”

“We watch to see if they are competitive but still a team player. Do they pout? In big matches, how do they react if they are losing?”

“A player that is in a Club that is established with good tradition, we will take more seriously than some. We don’t like it when girls change Clubs a lot.”

“Regarding video, we will rarely watch more than 3 minutes. If they get me with skills and highlights, then I’ll watch more. The ones that continuously roll are irritating, a waste of time, all that dead time in between points.”

“There are a lot of coaches that cheat. We follow the rules to the letter. A lot of coaches will send a letter through the Club coach when the kid is a 9th or 10th grader and write “Dear Kristen.” That’s illegal. It hurts us that we don’t do that because the kid wonders why we aren’t personally writing them. They think we are not interested.”

I didn’t have to walk far to talk with a coach of another Big 10 University.

“We are here for 10th graders only. We are done with our 11th and 12th graders. We are also here to watch 14 year olds.”

“We watch how well they move. Can they play at a height that is competitive in the Big 10? It is not always about size, but how high. Are they good volleyball players and not just good athletes?”

“Did they take demanding High School courses? Most Volleyball players have good GPA’s, and GPA’s have been going up for 25 years, but what is the reputation of their school and how hard was their course load?”

“We like video shot from behind.”

I moved over and talked with a Volleyball coach from Lindenwood, a NAIA School near St. Louis.

“We have a list we built, that includes kids that emailed us. We look for good attitudes. I just saw a player that was a decent athlete. We would never look at her again because of the way she acted on the court. She looked like she doesn’t care if she messes up. She was too nonchalant.. We look for the fighting spirit! We want consistency. We want kids that go after balls they really shouldn’t, that are out of play. Girls that make the most out of sets that aren’t that great.”

“We get emails from kids that have no verified grades or video. That’s what we like so much about having online profiles where the information is all there.”

“Regarding funding, a young lady with an ACT above 29 would get a full tuition waiver. Our volleyball players on average pay only $7000 a year for a top education.”

As a coach from Central Michigan University (Division One, Mid American Conference) watched kids on her list play on one court, I asked for her insights on volleyball recruiting.

“We came here with a list of 100 to see. We use different recruiting services, plus kids who personally contact us. If they email us, they need to send video. If you don’t have video, we will ask for it.”

“We get all over. We were in Colorado, here in St. Louis. We will be at Nationals in Orlando and Reno.”

“We are watching mainly 15 and 16 year olds. It seems that recruiting gets earlier and earlier every year.”

“Young people need to have ways to reach out to us. I know they are busy, but they could call our office at lunch from the Athletic Directors office at their school, or right after school. They have to make themselves known. I feel like they are waiting for us.”

“Club competition is very important. If you aren’t on a good club team playing good club competition, you won’t be ready for D1 competition.”


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