Freshman TimelinePosted by Alissa Rice on 3/4/2020
It has been made clear that high school and club players are serious about stepping up to the next level should begin their preparation as early as their freshman year in high school. If you're systematic and well-organized, this process can be a great learning experience and will help you find a school that's a good fit - both for volleyball and academics.
First of all- Don't get discouraged if your dream school isn't showing interest. First and foremost, volleyball is about having fun and enhancing your younger years. If you love the game and keep working hard, you'll give yourself a chance to play at the next level. Remember, when a school says no, it's not just about you and it certainly doesn't mean you're not a good volleyball player. Maybe the school is already well stocked at your position. Or maybe they need someone who jumps a little higher. Whatever the reason, just keep playing and working hard and enjoying the game. Chances are, you will arrive at a destination that is perfect for you!
Freshman Year Checklist:
-Watch some college matches. Seeing the level of play that you're aspiring to will give you an idea of where you're at as a player and where you need to be by your senior year.
-Get on a competitive club team where you will get playing time. It's important to play for knowledgeable coaches on a good team that practices at least twice a week. It's also important to play at national qualifiers and tournaments so college coaches can watch you.
-Make a recruiting video. But, don't pay a lot of money for someone to make it for you. Using video from a phone or ipad and editing in iMovie or a similar program works just fine.
-Create a target list of 15-30 schools. They should be schools you are interested in attending and schools where you would like to play volleyball. Look at all divisions and conferences around the country that you think are your level. (Ask your coach if you don't know). Don't count out schools when you're a freshman. It's early in the process, so you should open to many possibilities.
-Create your University Athlete (UA) profile at www.universitathlete.com Every college coach/recruiter will use it to track and find the court you're on at tournaments. Include your name, a picture, graduation year, contact info, your coach's contact info, parents' names and approach jump touch. It's good to post a highlight video, too. This should all be on the FREE version!
-Email the college coaches on your target list. With the new recruiting rule, there is no back and forth communication between players and college coaches until June 15th after your sophomore year. But it's NEVER too early to introduce yourself and express your strong interest in attending their school and playing volleyball for their program. College coaches will definitely start watching you play, and if they know you are intereted in their school and they like your video, they will mark you down and watch you during your freshman season.
-Start researching and find out which schools on your target list will need your position in your grad year. Become a detective and study the roster of the schools, use the prepvolleyball.com "College Needs List". Ask your club coach or director to find out which positions the schools at the top of your list will need in your grad year. They are allowed to ask college coaches this without asking specifically about you. When you find out, either keep the school on the list or take it off and add more.
-Attend winter clinics, spring clinics, and summer college volleyball camps at the schools you are interested in. Clinics are great for visibility and to get experience being coached by college coaches. The summer between your freshman and sophomore year is important to target specific schools on your list. If you're a setter or a middle, make sure they need your position in your grad year BEFORE you go through the trouble of attending the camp. Colleges usually aren't as certain about their needs at OH or L/DS for freshmen.
-Keep your grades up! No mystery to this one. The better you do in school, the more options you will have, especially with regard to merit-based/academic aid that many universities offer.
-Make yourself away of NCAA core course requirements. Be sure your high school counselor is up to speed on what type of classes you need.
-Become involved in fitness and strength development programs. It doesn't have to be extensive.
-Give yourself a social media checkup. When college coaches mark you down on their watch list after receiving emails from you, you have begun the recruiting process with them and they will check you social media accounts. If they see things that shine in a negative light - partying, inappropriate behavior, language, etc. - it can hurt your chances. Remember, coaches view posts with adult, grown-up eyes. They may stop recruiting you if they don't like what they see. Just be careful. This goes for things that you repost or retweet as well! Think of the "Grandma Rule", if you don't think your grandma would be proud of what you post, then DON"T POST IT!
-Participate in volleyball lessons with a good instructor. In practice, you dont always get enough skill acquisition and technical coaching specific to your weaknesses. Lessons are a great way to improve your skill level outside of high school and club practices. Invite a teammate (in a position that complements yours) so you can split the cost. Both of you will have an opportunity to get better!
-Be a great teammate. When college coaches/recruiters watch you play they usually know before they come your abilities to some extent. They will also be watching how you interact with your team, your coach, opposing teams, and your parents. Believe it or not, they even look at how the parents act as well. If they are yelling at the coach or ref, it will leave a bad taste in their mouth and could hurt your chances.
Let me know if you have any questions. Times have turned these days with the number of clubs available to players. Remember, colleges are in season at the same time as high school. College coaches don't have enough time during their own season to actively recruit, playing club is essential these days. You don't have to be on a top team to get looks, join a club that will allow you to play the most at the highest level. It doesn't do anyone any good (besides club owners) for you to pay all of that money for you to just stand on the sidelines and not get any touches on the ball to improve your skills.
Sophomore TimelinePosted by Alissa Rice on 3/4/2020
The first thing you should know as a sophomore in high school is the new NCAA recruiting rule regarding communication between athletes and coaches. Before June 15th after your sophomore year, there can't be ANY back-an-forth communication between the athlete or parent/guardian and a college coach.
That doesn't mean you can't email the coaches and tell them about yourself. It just means that they can't email you back, nor can they text or call you on the phone.
There are many things you can do at this stage in your high school career to increase your chances of getting a scholarship, including researching which schools will need your position in your grad year and which volleyball summer camps you'll want to attend.
Sophomore Year Checklist:
-Look and follow the freshman checklist. Be sure you have completed those items if you're starting the recruiting process as a sophomore.
-Revise the target list you have made of schools that interest you. Now that you've played another year and gotten older, you may have a better idea of the major/area of study you are interested in, so you can check the schools' websites to confirm they have what you are looking for. Also, reassess the area of the country and the conferences in each NCAA division to determine if you should look at other divisions for the level of play, size of school, and academic reputation you want.
-Keep working through your target list to determine if schools need your position in your grad year. This may take some time, and it will require some patience. It can be a guessing game, but with some detective work, you'll learn this information over time.
-Continue to email coaches on your target list. It's a good idea to check in every couple of weeks or so and let coaches know how you are doing on your volleyball team, in school, and with extracurriculars. Also, this makes it clear that you are still interested in their school and program. It will feel like you are talking to a rock because coaches can't respond during your sophomore year (even through your coaches) until June 15th. But understand this: most likely, they are reading your emails and watching you play.
-Work hard and continue improving your volleyball skills. Ask your club and/or high school coaches for suggestions on how you can get better and work on your weaknesses. Continue private lessons, when you can, to fine tune your game.
-Become even a better teammate by being positive and exuding energy. Don't be an "eye-roller" or have bad body language when your teammates make a mistake. Be supportive. And be the type of player who bounces back after a mistake. Coaches watch you in warm-ups and on the bench. They value a good attitude and good body language as much a good skills.
-Plan to go to more volleyball camps. As a sophomore, camps and clinics are crucial. You should still target clinics and summer camps at schools where you want to play. Email the coaches in advance to let them know you will be there. This is a great way to show them that you are serious about their program and to get a better feel for what their program is like. If budget is an issue, you don't have to necessarily have to go to the entire camp. If it's a 3- or 4- day camp, consider going for 2 days, especially if you have other camps to attend. The coaches can usually prorate the fee, and they understand that players often go to multiple camps.
-The floodgates open June 15th!! Communication between players and coaches is open and can go back and forth (emailing, texting, phone calls) as of midnight on June 15th. This becomes the magical day in the recruiting process after the rule changes in May of 2019. Communicate with coaches on June 15th or as soon as you can after June 15th. You may hear right away from some coaches you've been contacting. Prepare before June 15th by knowing which coaches you'd like to call on your target list and having questions ready to ask. Also, be prepared to answer questions from them - if you get them on the phone or if they contact you.
I understand this feels like a long process but your high school years will fly by and will be over before you know what hit you. Please contact me if you have any questions on what you should be doing. We are all in this together :)
Junior TimelinePosted by Alissa Rice on 3/4/2020
Just like with academics, junior year is the most important year for volleyball athletes who want to compete at the next level. As of June 15th after your sophomore year, you're allowed to communicate with coaches, so the floodgates are open and you will likely be speaking/texting/emailing multiple coaches.
Also, the NCAA allows you to take both official and unofficial college visits after Aug 1st of your sophomore year, so this is a big priority for high school juniors.
Junior Year Checklist:
-Have a positive and strong mindset! Work hard in the classroom, on the court, and in your recruiting process to find a great fit. This is the most important year of the college volleyball recruiting process.
-Set yourself up for success. You did some preliminary work your freshman and sophomore years creating your target list, and you emailed coaches. They read your emails, watched you video, and, most likely, watched you play at tournaments... even though they couldn't communicate with you. If you're just starting the recruiting process now, it's okay. Review the freshman and sophomore checklist and jump in.
-Continue to work through your target list. Arrange in your order of preference and communication level with the school. Keep track of all communication between you and the coaches. Touch base with them every 2-3 weeks.
-Give yourself another social media checkup. When college coaches are recruiting you, they will check your social media accounts. If they see things that shine a negative light (as stated in the freshman checklist), they may stop recruiting/communicating with you.
-Attend camps the summer before your junior year. You probably already booked camps by June 15th, but you can still contact the coaches of the camps. It's a great excuse to touch base. Ask these questions: Do they need your position in your grad year? Are they interested in you for their program? What is the offer on the table (full scholarship, partial, walk on, etc)?
-Take unofficial (and official) visits beginning Aug 1st before your junior year. Official visits (where the school pays) are usually later in the recruiting process, but unofficial visits are good to arrange with the coaches when there is interest on both sides. A great time to visit is during their fall college season or during a spring practices. See if you can picture yourself there.
-When talking to a school about a scholarship offer, clarify the different types and what is covered. For example, is it full, partial, walk-on? Does it cover tuition for a fifth year, summer school tuition, medical expenses? Are there need-based and merit-based options available? Know this before you attend summer camps and/or take unoffical visits to be sure it's okay for you and your family. Otherwise, you can gracefully pull out of camps and not visit because it's not a fit in that respect. This process can be expensive, so each visit or camp needs to make sense. Coaches understand.
-Talk with coaches about where you stand on their list. This can be done in person during campus visits, on the phone, via email or text. This will help narrow down your list.
-Understand the timeline for when schools on your list want to make a decision. Are they in a rush, in no hurry, have an offer out to another player and you're next on the list if she says no? If you have an offer on the table, your timeline speeds up, and they need to know that too.
-Stay in touch often; learn as much as you can about thier coaching staff, their philosophies and coaching style. Get to know them. Communication and learning is key. Talk to former players, if possible, to learn more about the coach and school. You will spend so much time with the coaches and your teammaates, you will be miserable if it's not a good fit in that area!
-Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. You'll eventually need to provide transcripts and test scores (after you take the SAT or ACT).
-Register to take the ACT/SAT. Once you get your scores back, you need to send them to the NCAA Eligibility Center. Coaches who are talking back and forth to during the recruiting process will probably want these scores too.
-Stay focused on your classes, and keep your studies a high priority. Academics are very important your junior year. This is true for all college-bound students in general. For a student-athlete, your grades are an important consideration for coaches. If they don't have to worry about your academics, they can focus on you as a person and a player. This will open up more college volleyball opportunities for you.
Senior TimelinePosted by Alissa Rice on 3/4/2020
By this time you should be fairly deep into the recruiting process. If you aren't, there's still time to catch up, but you will need to be efficient and act quickly.
Among the most important action items for high school seniors are:
-Figuring out which schools still need their position.
-Showcasing their talents.
-Communicating with coaches to find out where they might be in their pecking order. Most college coaches will be honest with you about where you stand. If you're an outside hitter and they have one player ahead of you on their recruiting board, they will likely say something like, "If so and so doesn't come here, you're our next choice."
Senior Year Checklist:
-If you're an uncommitted senior, time is of the essence. If you haven't started the process, follow the freshman checklist. Reach out to coaches at schools you may want to attend who may still need your position in your grad year. D1 school complete their recruiting earlier than D2, D3, and NAIA. NCAA rules have slowed down the recruiting process, so as time goes on it will become more and more common to be uncommitted entering your senior year.
-Attend as many "unsigned" showcases and clinics as possible to get in front of more coaches. Make sure the coaches attending are from schools you are interested in.
-Scan the "College Needs List" on prepvolleyball.com. This is even more crucial to speed up your process by finding out which schools still need your position and where you could see yourself going as a student-athlete.
-Apply to the schools you want to attend. Early applications are usually the best option; it's good to them out of the way. Most colleges begin accepting applications around Sept 1, but make sure to research your specific target schools' deadlines and let the coaches know you are planning to apply.
-After your verbal committment, complete your NCAA eligibility profile. For student-athletes, this is a simple clicking of a button.
-Make a phone call to the other schools that offered you a spot. This is respectful, and it's a nice gesture to tell them your decision over the phone rather than letting them find out on social media or through others. It lets them know that you're courteous and that you care. Remember, you may see them on the other side of hte net during your college volleyball career.
-Announce your verbal committment through your social media platforms nad on prepvolleyball.com and/or Rich Kern's recruiting registry. This lets coaches and others know your plans and that you are no longer in the recruiting process.
-Plan for your Nation Letter of Intent signing experience. This is a ceremonial event and a great photo opportunity for capturing memories and celebrating. At LPS, we have a fall NLI and spring NLI signing ceremony. Make sure that your high school athletic director is aware that you will be participating.
-Read out to your soon-to-be teammates on social media. Getting to know the players who you'll be going to batting with is a great way to begin forming a strong team bond.
-Plan your summer. Find out from your college coach what's expected of you. Will you need to go to summer school? If so, who will pay for it? What will your housing situation be? Be proactive in fact-finding.
-Keep training and practicing after both your verbal committment and signing. Some recruits relax at this point, which is a bad idea. You should grind even harder and focus on getting ready to compete, especially if you want to challenge for playing time right away.
-Take care of any nagging injuries that you may have had during your senior year of high school. Get stronger and healthier that ever so you can have a positive start to your collegiate volleyball experience.
-Pay close attention to communications from your coaches or the school's compliance department so you can complete whatever is being asked of you. For example, working out housing arrangements or getting a physical. Again, be prompt. Respond within 24 hours.
-After your high school graduation, send your final transcripts and your degree immediately to the NCAA Eligibility Center and to the admissions office of the college you will be attending. Overnigh it with a tracking number so you'll know when it's received. Once NCAA has it, they'll call the conference office and the conference office will let your school know if you're eligible to compete. Don't send this info by snail mail. The faster the NCAA receives it, the more time you will have if there are any eligibility issues to iron out.