The AAU and USAV National Championships are around the corner. On the forefront of every young athlete’s mind (that wants to play at the next level) is “what college coaches will be watching me?” or “how do I get them to my court” or “how do I get exposure” or “with the new recruiting rules in place, how do I get to know more about the program? or…do I really need to continue as the questions are endless?

My message to all of you who are fretting ‘getting exposure’ and ‘getting coaches interested in you’…take a HUGE deep breath and relax! 

The message simply put:

  • focus on finishing well at school
  • focus on getting better in the gym prior to heading to nationals
  • focus on getting better as a teammate
  • focus on getting better in your communication skills
  • focus on getting a better idea of who you are
  • focus on getting better at discovering your long term goals

Recruiting exposure should not be the priority…it is the outcome of excelling at all of the above and more. Over the past six months, we have had the good fortune of hosting several national speakers both in and out of the sport…all of them talked about ‘being where your feet are’ and focusing on doing your best in the ‘present’ moment and experiences. The journey of ‘recruiting’ and all of the ‘what if’s’ that come with it can veer you off course and take your efforts off of improving on the court both as an athlete and a teammate. Obsessing about contacting coaches, getting on campus and getting coaches to your court does not produce more opportunities – it produces stress, distraction and lack of focus.

Listen carefully, I am not advocating ‘doing nothing’ in the area of recruiting. I am suggesting it not be your ‘focus,’ but it should be a part of the journey of getting to the next level of competition (collegiate volleyball).

Success comes when you can show college coaches improvement and advances in:

  • your skill level from January through June
  • ‘working out’ those teammate issues
  • attitude and body language by exuding ‘positivity and team’
  • communication (both written & verbal)
  • knowing where you can play and targeting the ‘right’ school
  • focusing on the opportunity and not the scholarship
  • academics

Take some time to discover who you are, where you want to be geographically when you head off to college, start to explore academic interests and FOCUS in on where you can play athletically! Begin targeted research and communication based upon those three key areas…ACADEMICS, LOCATION and LEVEL YOU CAN PLAY AT. All three of these areas, take time for the majority of athletes to discover.

PATIENCE is key! YOUR JOURNEY IS YOURS – and it will NOT be the same as your teammates or athletes you see on social media!

Things that can railroad you on being focused on these keys are:

  • what everyone else is doing
  • social media recruiting posts
  • not putting effort into self-discovery
  • outside pressures
  • beginning the ‘recruiting process’ before you are ready

Remember athlete…this is your future and you need to be the one driving the train. If you are not ready to be the engineer of your future, put on the brakes, take time to think through it all and put in the work to educate yourself on the opportunities in the world of collegiate volleyball.

Simple ways you can begin:

  • Shut off your phone ☺
  • Sit down with a pen/paper…write down your goals for:
    • Academics
    • Long term career goals
    • Campus life/location
    • Volleyball Program
  • Head to NCAA ,NAIA or NJCAA and discover the plethora of options of schools that offer college volleyball
  • Start narrowing your target list based upon your criteria
  • Don’t know where you can play?…ask your coaches or club directors…better yet ask a college coach for their thoughts…they do this for a living and are so good at communicating this to athletes…they want you to be successful with them if it’s the right fit or head you in a direction that fits your athletic ability

To sum it up…FOCUS ON GETTING BETTER…IN THE GYM…IN THE CLASSROOM…IN BEING A GREAT TEAMMATE…IN YOUR PURSUIT OF GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF…and amazingly YOU WILL FIND that ‘RECRUITING’ will be a fruitful journey to be on when your focus is where it should be!

GOOD LUCK as you all head to nationals…and be grateful for the opportunity!

For related reading on the volleyball recruiting process click HERE. To view more recruiting education click HERE.

About the Author

Patty Costlow is heading into her third year as the Recruiting Coordinator for Munciana Volleyball, a long time JVA member club located in Muncie, Indiana. She has been involved in the sport of volleyball at various levels for over 30 years (club coach, program director, program development, semi-pro beach and indoor player). Utilizing her 30+ years of experience in both playing and coaching/teaching the sport of volleyball, it was a natural progression for her to transition into the recruiting arena. Patty brings her passion for developing leaders and helping young athletes pursue their life goals to all aspects of her responsibilities as the Recruiting Coordinator for one of the top clubs in the country. She developed a comprehensive program for Munciana VBC and speaks on a national level to parents/athletes in regards to collegiate recruiting. In addition, Patty consults with volleyball clubs on building their recruiting programs. Patty is a mother of four and resides in Carmel, Indiana with her husband, Chris. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois.