Now that the holiday season is over, club season will soon be in full swing. Your weekends will be full of practices, tournaments, traveling, and spending a lot of time with your team. This is also a time where college recruiting really starts to speed up. You may find that at your court, or other courts, there will be dozens of college coaches watching athletes play, trying to find the next player for their team. Here are some tips on what you can do to make a good impression at whatever level you are looking to play at:
Coaches not only watch your good plays on the court, but they look at your errors as well. Many young players may get discouraged when they make an error on the court, especially knowing they may have college coaches watching them. However, this isn’t always a bad thing. Volleyball is a game of errors and no player will ever play perfectly. Coaches may look at your tendencies versus execution on these plays. Did you see the line was open on an outside attack and take a big swing but only miss by a few inches? Yes, you may have made an error, but a coach is going to see that you were able to see the court and you went for it.
Coaches look at your behavior towards your teammates in addition to your volleyball skills. Many coaches, including myself, will look to see how you interact with your teammates on both the good and bad points. Do you get just as excited for your teammates when they score versus when you make a good play? Do you get mad at your teammates? Coaches are not only looking for good players, but they are also looking for players that can fit into their culture. Being a good teammate may be equally as important as skill for some collegiate programs. Many successful programs are successful because of how well the team reacts to each other on the court. This also includes how your respond to your coach as well. College coaches want players that are going to be coachable and those players that give attitude or think that they are too good to be coached.
There may be times when you find yourself on the bench. Coaches are looking for how great of a teammate you are. Similar as to what I wrote above, bench players are vital to a team’s success. Whether you recently were benched or you are an athlete that doesn’t play much, does not mean you aren’t college playing material. But how your cheer for your teammates is something that all coaches look for. If you think about it, there are not many college freshmen that experience a lot of playing time that first year. Your attitude on the bench is something that college coaches will look for.
Depending on your year in school and what level you are looking at playing, not all coaches will be able to talk to you at tournaments. Remember, this is a rule and the coach has to follow that rule. If you approach a coach at a tournament and they politely tell you that they are not allowed to talk to you, it is nothing personal, just a rule that they have to follow.
When you know your schedule for a tournament, it is always a great idea to send that schedule to the coach that you want to recruit you. For any given tournament weekend, coaches may be watching multiple players play. In some of the bigger tournaments, coaches may be watching over fifty athletes compete. As a coach, it can take hours to find the schedule for every athlete I need to watch. However, I come to appreciate those athletes that send their court schedule. This not only makes it easier to schedule out my visits, but I know that this recruit is genuinely interested in our program since they have taken time out of their day to send their playing schedule for the weekend.
If you want to play volleyball in college, there will be an opportunity for you. Every division and level will have pros and cons. From NCAA to NAIA to NJCAA and beyond, there are great athletes and great programs at all levels. If you are contacted by a school from a different division that you may be wanting, I highly encourage you to at least do some research on that program before you push it aside. You can find highly successful programs at any level out there.
Club season can be a stressful time as you are working your way through the recruiting process, but never forget to enjoy the moment. Enjoy playing with your teammates and getting a chance to play the sport that you are so passionate about. It will be over before you know it!
Written by Ashlee Pritchard
Ashlee Pritchard is the head volleyball coach at Marian University in Indianapolis. This fall she will be in her sixth year leading the Knights. She played four years at Taylor University in Upland, IN. When she is not coaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband, her two year old daughter Charlotte and their English bulldog.