The Team You Make…Does it Really Matter for Recruiting?

My short answer is NO. My long answer is YES…then, I say “it depends” and come back to my short answer, NO.

And here’s why I say NO…College coaches know which teams are the top teams in the country. The top players in the country are being recruited by a lot of coaches. BUT many coaches want to find a diamond in the rough. A player that is not at their peak in high school, and has time to develop, along with the athleticism to improve and help make their college team better and help them win! 

D1, D2, D3, and NAIA coaches will watch a player and stand at court #78 (it doesn’t matter the court number) to find a perfect fit! A really good scenario is one where you have emailed a minimum of 20 schools and they have seen your highlight video. You have good/decent grades, so you have done your job to spark their interest! They need your position in your grad year or they wouldn’t take the time to watch you play, so…college coaches are at your court and they don’t know exactly what team number you are on at your club!

Players and parents get way more invested in whether they are on a top 1s team or their team is considered 2nd or 3rd best at their club in their age group. College coaches don’t get wrapped up in this!

So, my immediate answer is NO, it doesn’t matter what team you make for your recruiting process.

The reason I believe this is BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE CHOICE AND THE POWER TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR RECRUITING PROCESS: As a proactive prospective student-athlete you CAN email college coaches and determine your perfect list of schools over time! 

It’s not 100% determined by what level of club team you make!

If you start the recruiting process as a freshman or early in your sophomore year, you will have a good quality target list of schools that fit your needs academically, location, finances, and level of play. You will figure this out OVER TIME… So, it doesn’t matter what club team you’re on because you will have good highlight video doing great things and the coaches will come and watch you. Then, you will keep moving through the process and after June 15th of your sophomore year, you will feel good about where you are in the recruiting process. 

Why is my long answer, YES, it matters what club team you make for your recruiting process? BUT it depends on a few things!  

I think it depends on these key things that ARE NOT ALWAYS TRUE if you’re on a top team. These 5 things MATTER MORE than being on a top 1s team at your club. If you make a top team, it helps with recruiting (in theory), BUT these things matter more:  

  1. The CLUB COACH that is assigned to your team matters. What if you’re on a top team, but your coach isn’t a good coach? I think your club coach and their level of coaching and commitment to making you and your team better REALLY matters. This type of coach isn’t always the top coach at a club. This type of coach…the best, most invested coach at a volleyball club could be coaching the 2nd or 3rd level team! Your club coach dictates your level of training and you want it to be as high as possible, no matter what team you’re on!  
  2. Your PLAYING TIME matters. If you’re on the top team at your club, but you get very little playing time, then college coaches can’t watch you play live at tournaments. You also struggle to get a good video of you competing, if you rarely get to play in tournaments.
  3. Your TEAMMATES’ ATTITUDES, WORK ETHIC, AND HOW SERIOUS THEY ARE IN PRACTICE matters. The overall intensity in practice and matches, competing, and fighting to win as a team matters, more than what team you’re on. In general, top 1s teams have players that are this way, but not always AND a 2nd or 3rd level team can for sure have all of these traits!
  4. What EVENTS YOUR CLUB TEAM TRAVELS to matter. If your team goes to at least two Junior National Qualifiers and to Junior Nationals at the end of the season, it’s great! If your team goes to Triple Crown in Kansas City or the Las Vegas Classic, that is also excellent. Sometimes, college coaches travel within their region to watch players during their regular club season tournaments. If you’re NOT on a travel team it will be more challenging for college coaches to watch you. Top teams will travel to these tournaments and usually the 2nd ranked teams and sometimes the 3rd ranked teams in volleyball clubs travel to some of these, which is great!
  5. WHO YOU PLAY AGAINST matters. The faster the speed of the game and the higher the level of play of your opponents the better! Usually, vs a great team, your team will rise to the occasion and play to their level. This will make you a better player. This isn’t dependent on what team number you are on at your specific club. All teams play good teams. When college coaches watch your court and you have some great passing off of tough serves and are blocking and digging hard hitters, this shows you can play a faster game, which allows the college coaches to envision you playing at the collegiate level. Video of yourself playing well against really good teams is beneficial. Not whether you won or lost, but could you make an impact versus a great team, and were you playing up to their level? If so, this is good in college coaches’ eyes! I love the underdog mentality from a competitive perspective and it’s so fun to watch players fight to win, no matter who they are playing! 

I know club volleyball tryouts are super stressful! Parents feel like they will have an ulcer and a heart attack all at once!  I want you to know that playing at the collegiate level is NOT dependent solely on what team you are on. There are many factors to take into account. Every volleyball club is different. Every year the club team roster is different, the coach is different, and it becomes a whole new dynamic. 

YOUR MINDSET: Approach the new club season with excitement about what’s to come! Your recruiting process will be what you make it. I think you should start creating your target list and emailing coaches as a freshman! The earlier you start the better! Be proactive in reaching out to coaches and researching schools. You will find the right fit for you! 

If you haven’t started this work yet, START NOW! Now is the time. If you have started this work, then keep going, and stay persistent and tenacious with your recruiting process. You got this!

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