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Top 5 Recruiting Questions from Coaches

posted Jul 26, 2015, 8:35 PM by Debbie Sokol
For most junior volleyball players, earning an athletic collegiate scholarship is the ultimate prize. There are typically only 12 scholarships available for a squad of 15 - 18 player, so the competition is fierce when it comes to securing a spot on a squad. You must also remember that since the 12 scholarships are spread out over 4 to 5 years (in the case of a red-shirt player) there are usually no more than 3 to 4 scholarships available per school per year.

The best way to make yourself stand out from the crowd is always a tough question for any aspiring collegiate volleyball player. Yet what if the question were flipped and were to put yourself in a coach’s shoes? What are they thinking, what are they looking for? What are the subtle traits or qualities that make a difference in their eyes? Jennifer Dorr, assistant coach at University of California - Berkeley and former standout setter at the University of Hawaii, weighed in on what she looks for in potential student-athletes. Some of the key questions she asks herself include (in no particular order):

  1. Do they make their teammates better? There are a lot of good players out there, there are fewer excellent ones, and even more rare is the player that can maintain a high level of play while also elevating the game of their teammates. Coaches are not only looking at players who make the key play, but also ones that can keep the energy positive on the court. Understanding how to inspire everyone to play better is a trait that’s hard to teach, but incredibly valuable to a coach during matches. 

  2. Do they raise the level of their play when the matches get tougher? Volleyball can at times be an emotional roller coaster…. the highs make you feel like you’re on top of the world, but the lows can suck the wind out of the whole team. Players who can remain focused throughout those momentum changes are really the ones who become a difference maker on the court. For example, when matches are close or when it is play-off time, what players perform at a high level? Who remains aggressive? Are they encouraging teammates or pouting because they flubbed a play?
  3. What is elite about them? Is it their athleticism? Or maybe it’s height? What unique skill set will they bring to the team? Are they a natural leader? Do they lead by example? What type of teammate will they be? Being an “elite athlete” is more than just about a win-loss record or stellar stats of kills, blocks or digs. It’s about contributing a specific blend of qualities to a collegiate team, which will compliment the existing team chemistry.
  4. Do they meet my recruiting needs? Recruiting is a fairly cyclical process. Given the graduating class, does this player meet a need I have for a specific position, style of play, or role? Also how are they going to make my current team better? As volleyball is a team sport, coaches need to weigh how every addition they make to the roster will impact the larger dynamics of the current team. 

  5. Are they interested in my school? Or said another way, can I get them interested in my school? Sometimes there’s mutual interest from both the player and coach; however, that’s not always the case. Both sides are weighing their options and a variety of factors can come into play during the decision making process. Is my school academically the right fit? Will this player be able to succeed athletically? Has this player shown the propensity to work hard and train in the off-season? Is the location appealing to the athlete? Will a red-shirt year be necessary? All these factors come into play when making sure there'a mutual fit between a player and collegiate program.

Also keep in mind that coaches can’t see every match because they have their eyes on a number of players. Maybe they'll only have the chance to watch how you warm-up or it how you take advice during timeouts? So make sure you're always on your A-game because coaches are looking for the total package.

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