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Written By: Evin Giglio
Head Men's Volleyball Coach at Wentworth Institute of Technology
Volleyball Recruiting: How to Get Recruited for College Volleyball College recruiting can be overwhelming, for parents and students alike. Navigating the process to find the best fit academically, athletically and financially is a complex decision. Let’s look at some common questions, misconceptions and areas of confusion that arise when looking for a place to call home for the next four years.
1. When should I start the recruiting process? I always like to say that it’s never too early and it’s never too late. I coach both men and women, so my recruiting calendar is year-round. I have two serious women’s recruits that are seniors right now and came to my attention this week. They are both impact players. Conversely, I have a 2021 recruit coming to visit that wants to decide her future by the end of November. My top 2019 men’s recruit committed in April of his senior year. Everyone is on a different timeline. If you start looking at colleges the second semester of your senior year, there will be less options, but there is still probably somewhere you can play.
2. What rules about recruiting do I need to know? Different divisions are bound by NCAA rules on when and how they can contact prospective student-athletes. You should not be overly concerned with those rules. If you send an email to a coach and they don’t immediately respond, it does not automatically mean that coach is uninterested. Coaches will reach out to the appropriate people and through the right channels in order to get back to you, it just might take some time. There are no rules precluding you from seeing a campus or taking an admissions tour. I think it is good to start that process early as it might help shape your likes and dislikes for your college experience.
3. The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, I need money! Parents this section is for you and hopefully you understand my obscure music reference! Finances and how to pay for college are a major concern for a large part of the population. Every institution does things a little differently when it comes to finances. Often, it’s not as cut and dry as getting a full athletic scholarship. It might be more cost effective to go to a Division III school that can only offer academic scholarship, vs. a Division I school that has limited/no athletic scholarships available. Having a budget and a realistic idea of what you can afford to pay beforehand can aid in making the decision process easier. The idea that your child is going to get a full scholarship to be a collegiate athlete might not be too realistic. There is a very small percentage of the athletic population playing on a full ride. There is also high-level competition across every division, whether athletic scholarships are available or not. While coaches fully recognize the cost of attendance is a major factor, it is best to not make that the first conversation. Let’s see if we are a good fit academically, athletically and socially for your child before you ask how much money we/the institution is giving you.
4. Okay, but how do I get noticed? If you play club, think about your last tournament in a convention center or giant complex with 50+ courts. What are the odds that a college coach of a school that is a good fit just happens to be at your court the exact moment you do something great? When the question is framed in that context, it doesn’t seem too great. If you only play high school, there’s a good chance no college coaches get to see you play. You need to market yourself. The best way to do that is to reach out before your club tournament happens. If there are showcases, prospect clinics/camps available in your area, take advantage of those opportunities. These are an effective way for coaches to get a concentrated look at prospective student-athletes that want to play in college. Often these showcases provide coaches more info on players as well such as gpa/test scores, intended major and contact information.
5. What should my communication with coaches look like? First, it’s a good idea to fill out a recruit form. Almost every school has a link on their athletic page. This helps coaches get some much needed details. I’m looking for a few specific things when I get an email from a prospective student-athlete. Follow up the recruit form with a personal email about why you’re interested in the school and volleyball program. Details are important. Make sure you spell the school name correctly and address it to the correct coach. Why are you a good fit? You don’t want to make it feel as if you’re sending the same exact email to 10 different schools, and just changing the name of the coach at the heading. If you or the coach wants to schedule a phone call, script out some questions beforehand, so you can ask about the things that are important to you. These topics can range from questions about team dynamic to the off-season schedule. There probably isn’t a question that you will ask that we haven’t heard before.
6. Do you have any film? That might be the single most asked question by college coaches in the country. If you craft a beautiful email and it looks like we’re going to be a great fit, my response will ask for film if the original email didn’t contain any. There are a few options for film. If you don’t happen to have any, the odds are someone else on the team or the coach filmed. Every club tournament I go to, I see 10 video cameras on every court. The invention of YouTube has made the life of a coach so much easier because it makes the upload process very simple. Clubs and high schools are increasingly using video software as well.
There are two types of film: a full game/match and highlight film. It’s great to have both. If you have the capability of making a highlight film, it doesn’t need to be fancy production with super slow-motion, the perfect song choice and amazing graphics. We coaches just want to see roughly 3-6 minutes of you at your best. The rest isn’t very important. It’s good to lead showcasing the skill most associated with your position. If you’re an outside hitter, I want to see you hitting and passing on the outside foremost. While I like to see all skills, 10 minutes of you serving is probably not the best use of a highlight film. Many coaches will want to see a full set/match, especially for setters and liberos. Make sure you identify who you are in the video. What number, side you’re on, etc. will help us make sure we’re watching the right person.
7. Use what resources you have available Have friends of yours gone through this process, does your club have a recruiting director and/or did your coach play in college? Some of the nervousness can come from the unknown, so if you can talk with others who have been through it, the recruiting process can become a little bit easier. Even if it’s someone from a different sport, there are more similarities than differences between sports. Hopefully the tips above will help you navigate your path to becoming a college athlete. It should be a fun and exciting time.