The regular season of club volleyball has ended, and while many teams are still training in preparation for the national championships, summer is rapidly approaching. With summer, comes summer camps and unofficial visit opportunities. Here is some advice to help players and families decipher whether to attend a camp for the training opportunity and fun experience, or to attend the camp as a potential recruiting opportunity.
Once high school begins, many volleyball players start receiving questionnaires, camp brochures/invites, and general college information from the admissions department. Many times, a player receives the camp brochure and questionaire and assumes the coach is very interested in recruiting him/her, when really there are signs indicating that is not the case.
If you are going through the recruiting process, and have received numerous invitations/brochures for college volleyball camps, make sure to consider the following before sending in your registration:
1) NCAA coaches, are allowed to send camp brochures to players beginning of freshman year in high school. Because of this, any number of college coaches will use the hint of recruiting as a means to drive camp enrollments. If you’re a recruitable athlete and have not already received a lot of interest from this college program prior to receiving the camp brochure, do not assume this school is recruiting you, and that the summer camp is an opportunity to be recruited.
Signs that a college coach is recruiting you:
- The college coach will reach out to your high school or club coach to find out more about you
- You’ve already spoken to this coach on the phone, and the college coach personally told you he/she is recruiting you, and invites you to attend camp or take an unnoficial visit
- You received a personalized email or hand written note from the coach inviting you to attend camp, call him/her, or take an unnofficial visit
2) An Unofficial Visit is not the same as attending camp. If a college coach is recruiting an athlete, the coach will watch you compete during the club season, at a competitive level, and if highly interested, invite you to visit the school, meet the players and support staff, and tour the campus and facilities. That is the best time to get a feel for what that school and program is like, and receive one-on-one attention from the coach.
3) College coaches do not need to evaluate you at camp. The college coach will know within 10 minutes of watching you play in person whether you have the skill sets to join the college program. An exception would be those programs without the recruiting budget to travel to many club events, such as DII/DIII/NAIA programs, therefore they will request video, and then personally invite you to attemp their camp as a final evaluation, scholarship determination, etc.
For recruiting purposes, college volleyball camps are not considered your best use of time and money. However, here are two ways camps can be a great use of your time and money:
1) Training opportunity – College volleyball camps can provide elite skill training and technique improvement. This is an opportunity to receive a tremendous number of repetitions, in a monitored environment with a professional volleyball coach evaluating and improving your abilities. It is important to be aware that because of the size of some college camps, there may be some camp coaches who are not the head or assistant coaches at that univeristy, working with your child at camp.
2) Volleyball vacation – Summer college volleyball camp is still summer camp. It should be a fun experience. For instance, there are generations of families that have attended a certain school, so it is a great opportunity for a young athlete to spend a few days on the campus, enjoy playing in the gym with the current collegiate players, and leave with a camp t-shirt to wear at home.
Many college programs are incentivized to boost camp attendance. It can be a deceiving trick, and many players unfortunately end up on the short end of the stick. Many collegiate head coaches are not the ones coaching during camp, and are barely in the gym. As you plan out your summer of volleyball, it is important to first and foremost evaluate what your goals are: to improve your skills, to have fun, or to be recruited. Hopefully the advice above will help you decide whether that college camp will help you achieve your goals.
About the Author
Matt Sonnichsen is the Director of Volleyball and National Speaker for NCSA Athletic Recruiting, a recruiting partner of the JVA. Matt has over 20 years of experience coaching volleyball at the collegiate level.