There is often a lot of questions or even mystery about how to get a scholarship or play at the next level of volleyball after high school or club. Here’s some easy to follow guidelines on what you need to do to to be successfully recruited.
College coaches are people first. They are leaders, and “business owners” or “bosses” of their own organizations. While there are some similarities between these coaches, they often have different systems, or methods of looking and evaluating prospective athletes. Some college coaches look at players when they are in 8th grade or earlier, but these are VERY rare exceptions. For the 1400 programs that offer a scholarship to play volleyball, most of the recruiting process takes place in the sophomore, or predominantly the junior year in high school.
Many factors or principles are involved with each program’s needs such as:
- how many athletes do they have on their roster?
- how many of each position do they have on their team? Most programs are at least 3-5 deep in Middles or Outside hitters.
- What positions do they scholarship? Some program’s give libero’s scholarships, while others don’t for example.
- What are their needs for a specific year? The may have a player coming in a specific position the year (say 2020 for 4 years) before you become available (2021), thus they don’t need your position that specific year, or 3 years later than you need..
- How many scholarships do they have to offer? Some schools have more money than others, and thus more scholarships available. Some offer an all or none.
- What type of offensive system do they use ? If they use a 6-2 offensive system, they will most likely recruit more setters.
Regardless of your position and skill level, the needs of these colleges are constantly changing. Injuries, marriage, missions (in Utah), athlete’s leaving, becoming ineligible, or many other reasons.
Where do you begin?
First, make a list of college that fit your needs (They provide your major or area of interest if you know it), culture, religion, travel constraints, etc. I would also generally suggest a school within 8-12 hours travel, or 1-2 hour flight. Much further than that, the likelihood of happiness and sticking to it for 4 years can start to go down.
Then, you need game film, or at the very minimum, practice or skill film to submit to these perspective coaches. If you don’t have film, start filming at the age when the player is most “college like”. Filming a 7th grader who is developing and has not achieved their height potential won’t be valuable to a college. Filming a Sophomore or Junior that is physically developed and has “got game” or resources that will benefit the college program is appropriate.
Show video of your athlete performing skills in the position they want to be recruited in. If you have a special circumstance (extremely athletic, or extremely tall) you might start a bit earlier so a coach can keep their eye on you as the years go by until they are ready to make an offer, or decide not to recruit you.
If you don’t have film, then start filming! My suggestion is to film “whistle to whistle” of games or matches. This makes it much easier to find a specific play (an hour worth of volleyball is usually about 10-12 minutes of actual play) when you go back and are trying to find highlights in all of the hours of video you have recorded.
The quality of video, recording device and such really doesn’t matter. Coaches want to see kids performing the skills that they need. Then put a short highlight film together - 2-4 minutes of the skills important to your position. Libero or Defensive specialist for example, the skills of Passing, Defense, and serving are all very valuable. Filming from a higher centered position behind the court is generally better than from the side. If you can get above the court, where you can see both teams movements, even better.
Once you have enough content to put specific skills together in a video, organize them in order of importance. For an outside hitter for example, put Hitting and Attacking first, then passing, then serving, and defense / blocking. If you have good sequences (where you pass then, or dig, then hit, these are good as well. Start with a something impressive, a bang! Something to get their attention, as well as ending with something great as well. People remember the beginning and ending of books, lists, movies, and recruiting videos easier than the middle. Do your best to make a good first impression.
If you show some positive emotion or smiling, or cheer for team mates, a few of those might be good to add in somewhere to the video.
You can add music or titles which is pretty easy to do these days with a video editor on any PC or Mac, but it’s not necessary. They are watching the player, not listening to the background music. Most coaches turn it down anyway.
Put this short highlight video together, and put it up on YouTube, or Google video, or even share it with the coach on google drive, and email the coaches and the colleges that you are most interested in attending. Use their name when contacting them. Don’t do any bulk communication if you are serious, and want to attend a specific program. Also include a short schedule of when and where they can watch you play.
If the coach responds, then they will most likely ask for video on a full, unedited match. It’s much easier to make a player look great in a highlight video. In a full unedited match, they see the real you.
Once you have this film put together College coaches contact info and email addresses - go to the athletic page of the college. You can find it there 99% of the time.
Here in Utah, most colleges will respond, and will find a way to evaluate you. Most of the time, this means in person. Sometimes, it will just be the film you send.
After you start communicating with the coach, and the video has done the job, then comes the next step - Communication and selling yourself to the Coach.
If you have questions, feel free ask one of our Club801 club directors at: