Like it or not, recruiting hotbeds are a real thing. For example, between 2013 and 2017, 54% of all blue-chip college football recruits came from four states: Texas, Florida, California and Georgia.
When it comes to volleyball, California, Chicagoland, Louisville, Indianapolis and Texas tend to be the areas most commonly recruited by college coaches. Coaches want to see the best athletes and since (supposedly) there’s more talent in those areas of the country, coaches can see many athletes in one place instead of traveling all over the country. It’s cost-effective and efficient. After a while, coaches keep coming back to the region because they like to work in areas that they know and have experienced success. This creates a cyclical effect of recruiting.
But if you’re not from those areas, don’t panic. Here are four tips to help you get on the radar of college coaches—no matter where you’re located.
Cast a wider net
You’ll be facing plenty of stiff competition when it comes to grabbing the attention of a top-tier program. And if you’re coming from an under-recruited region, you need to make sure you give yourself every opportunity to get noticed. And that means casting a wider net. As you search for colleges, consider smaller schools that potential recruits from hotbed regions may be overlooking. Don’t just zero in on NCAA Division 1 colleges.
Get evaluated by coaches in person
If coaches won’t come to you, figure out a way to go to them. Camps and showcases are usually well-attended by college coaches looking to spot roster-worthy athletes. However, you’ll have to be smart about where you travel. Traveling to showcases can get expensive, and some events might be a better fit for you than others. Do your homework before making travel plans and reach out to coaches ahead of time to let them know you’ll be in attendance. Coaches are much more likely to remember your showcase performance if they’ve talked to you or exchanged emails beforehand.
Make a great recruiting video
This is where your tech skills can shine. Coming from an under-recruited region, your recruiting video might be your best tool for getting noticed. College coaches don’t have the time to travel everywhere and see all their potential recruits in person, so the recruiting video becomes a pivotal part of their recruiting process. Make sure to start collecting video footage early and often and continue to edit and update your recruiting video as you improve your skills. Ask other people for video footage that they may have shot of you and get all your pertinent athletic and academic information in there.
Impress with academics
News flash: College coaches pay attention to your grades and test scores. At many programs, academics are just as important as athletic performance. Even if you’re physically not quite at the same level as the top recruits in your sport, you can beat them in the classroom if you focus on schoolwork. If a coach is deciding between you and a comparable athlete, they will go with the one who has the more impressive academic transcript.
About the Author
Matt Sonnichsen is the Director of Volleyball and National Speaker for Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), the Official Recruiting Services provider of the JVA. NCSA assists JVA Club Directors and Coaches with guiding their athletes through the recruiting process. Matt has over 20 years of experience coaching volleyball at the collegiate level. Read more about NCSA.