Beach Volleyball is the NCAA’s fastest-growing sport, starting with 15 Division I programs in 2012 and exceeding 100 collegiate programs in 2019, which means a huge influx of opportunities and scholarships for female student-athletes. Below is a brief explanation of and game plan to begin the recruiting process for girls interested in playing beach volleyball at the collegiate level. This is by no means comprehensive but should give you a good start to the process as well as some valuable information to guide your journey.
Part I: The Decision to Play
Question I: Do you want to play college Beach Volleyball?
This is a valid question for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is whether or not you can see yourself dedicating a portion of your time in college to athletics. College athletics are a lot of fun, a great bonding and networking opportunity and fantastic for your continued fitness and health. Yet, it requires a commitment, and an ability to juggle your studies with athletics. Indeed, there is a wide variety of options.
SCHOOLS OFFERING BEACH
|NCAA Division I||62|
|NCAA Division II||15|
|NCAA Division III||6|
|Total (4 year institutions)||99|
Athletic Scholarship Opportunities
|Division I (per school)||6|
|Division II (per school)||Varies|
|NAIA (per school)||Varies|
|NCAA Division I||720|
|NCAA Division II||108|
|NCAA Division III||42|
Note: Division III schools offer merit, academic, and need-based scholarships.
If you answered yes to question 1, then your first step is to register at the NCAA Eligibility Center as soon as possible at https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/
Question 2: At what level (honestly) can I play at?
This question includes considering your height, vertical leap, block jump, and overall talent level. You also want to revisit the level of commitment you are looking for. As you consider different levels and college programs, you’ll want to have a vivid picture of the time expectations an athlete playing for that program has, as well as the rigors of the academic goals you have for yourself. For example, if you are looking to play at a Division 1 top twenty beach volleyball program and also intend to pursue a pre-med course of study, both typically require very high levels of discipline, effort and time commitment. Do the lab classes required for your major conflict with practice times? If so, is the school and/or coach willing to accommodate your schedule?
There is the “right fit” for every student athlete, and there are numerous outlets to play volleyball through college and beyond which include:
NCAA Division 1: Requires a 12 month commitment to volleyball, year-round, including weight training, playing beach volleyball both in and beyond the official season, travel, etc. Each Division 1 program has a maximum of 6 full scholarships (which can be broken up into component parts), which are used each year. Each team can only have 14 athletes on scholarship money in any year.
Division I has scholarships available based on Equivalencies – meaning schools within Div. 1 can spread money allotted to their scholarship pool depending on need, giving a percentage to each athlete, rather than allocating a full scholarship.
Below are some guidelines to help you determine where your skills and abilities may be most comparable. Having candid conversations with your coaches are also very helpful. These are guidelines, but ultimately the decision to pursue lies within:
*** Remember – there are many outliers out there-with skills and talent that can sometimes put an athlete in the conversation- so don’t be discouraged- however these are the median metrics for each level). ***
DI Tier 1 (Upper level) Candidate:
- Extensive National level beach club experience, 5+ years
- High placement at National Tournaments
- BVCA Championships, USAHP, AAU JO’s, Women’s Opens, AVP, BVCA Club Challenge, Etc.
- All-American, All-Tournament recognition
The average characteristics of a top tier beach athlete are below:
- Height (5’8″-6’4″)
- Avg. Weight 140 lbs
- Block Jump 9’4″+
- Approach Jump 9’10″+
DI Tier 2 (Mid-Lower level) Candidate:
- National level club experience, 3+ years or extensive club experience outside the national level (5+ years).
- National Tournament Attendance
The average characteristics of a DI Tier 2 beach athlete are below:
- Height (5’10”-6’3″)
- Block Jump 9’3″
- Approach Jump 9’9″+
- Height (5’7″-6’0″)
- Approach Jump 9’7″
NCAA Division II: Similar to Div. 1, Div II has scholarships available based on Equivalencies – meaning Div. II schools can spread money allotted to their scholarship pool depending on need, giving a percentage to each girl rather than allocating a full scholarship. I.e. Coaches can split up the scholarships any way they see fit.
DII Tier 1 (Upper level) Candidate:
- Height (5’9″-6’2″)
- Block Jump 9’4″
- Approach Jump 9’8″+
- Height (5’6″-5’10”)
- Approach Jump 9’2″+
Special Note: Many upper level DII programs are highly competitive and would be equal to a mid-lower level DI program.
NCAA Division 3: NCAA Division III is a great venue for collegiate beach volleyball, is very competitive, has numerous ways to help student athletes in the admissions process, as well as financially and comprises many of the top academic schools in the country
- Height (5’9″-6’1″)
- Block Jump 9’2″
- Approach Jump 9’6″+
NAIA: NAIA is an Association of Independent Schools with its own clearinghouse. NAIA has scholarships and is also based on equivalencies.
For a list of collegiate beach programs click HERE.
Part II: Academics
What are your grades and Sat/ACT?
Based upon your grades and standardized test scores you can effectively look at certain types of colleges and rule out others. Where can your realistically go- get in? Even though you are being recruited for volleyball, you still need to be accepted into the school.
What do you want to study?
How big or small of a school would you be willing to go to?
Many colleges offer a variety of majors, but it is important to consider what you would like to major in. Also, what is your fallback in case you do not like that field? Do the colleges you are applying to have your desired major, and alsp a sufficient variety of options in case you change your major? What is the reputation of the department? How big are the classes? What is their job placement percentage?
Part III: Location, Location, Location
Where can you see yourself living for four-five years of your life?
What type of climate would you be willing to live in?
What expenses are associated with travel to and from your school?
Is it important for you to be a short drive from your family, or are you comfortable being a flight away?
Part IV: Volleyball
What type of volleyball program do you want to play for? Is it important that you play for a program with a winning record?
What kind of coach would you like to have?
How much work are you willing to put in?
How many players do they carry on a team?
What is the coach’s method for choosing who plays? (seniority, ability, position needs)
Are you willing to possibly not make the travel lineup?
Roster Size? Is the roster comprised of players from the indoor team? Mixed or beach only?
These are but a few of a myriad of questions you may want to consider.
Part V: Beginning the Process:
- Set up a Skills Video Session with your Club Director.
- Set up a Recruiting consultation your Club Director.
- Attend a Recruiting Consultation with answers to previous questions.
- Write an Introductory Email to College Programs you are interested in.
- Attach Skills and Game Footage and a Player Profile
College Recruiting Rules: 2019 Update
There are recruiting guidelines that programs must follow when recruiting athletes. The safest way to make sure you’re not (or the college is not) in violation of these guidelines is to know the rules!
Sophomore Year: until June 15th of your Incoming Junior Year
Coaches are allowed to:
- Send you athletic or sports camp brochures, NCAA Educational Information and Questionnaires.
Coaches are not allowed to:
- Accept phone calls or emails from prospective student-athletes – remember that if you leave a message on an answering service or send an email the coach is NOT ALLOWED TO CALL or Email YOU BACK.
- There can be no communication between a potential student athlete and coaches/athletic staff before June 15th of the conclusion of your Sophomore year.
- Coaches cannot call you on the phone or send you any written recruiting information. They can however send you an athletics questionnaire.
Athletes are allowed to:
- Go to a College Camp – But there can be no communication about recruiting, or offers Until After June 15th (Preceding your Junior Year). NO Recruiting Conversations are allowed!!!
- Go on a college visit through their admissions office. You cannot have any interaction with coaches during the visit
Junior Year: from June 15th
- College coaches are allowed to send you information about their athletic program and about their school. This can include: media guides, schedule cards, personalized letters, photocopies of newspaper clippings and official university admissions and academic publications.
- The college coach is now allowed to answer your emails and send emails to you as well.
- Coaches Can Now Text and Call you, and you can call Division 1 Coaches.
Junior year: (From August 1st) Through Senior Year
- Athletes can make unofficial (when you pay all expenses) visits to a college campus.
- Official Visits (one per school) are paid for by the college. An athlete is allowed a maximum of 5 Visits to Division 1 Colleges.
- You can talk with college coaches but this must be on campus and not off campus at such places as the beach or a volleyball facility.
- You can make up to five official (expense paid visits to college campuses). The visit to the campus cannot be longer than forty-eight hours in duration. You are not allowed to have an official visit until after August 1st of your Junior Year.
- It is also permissible for you to receive a maximum of three complimentary tickets to a college sporting event.
- To make an official visit you need to provide a copy of your transcript and Test Scores to determine eligibility.
- If you’re at a tournament and the coach does not talk to you don’t take it personally. The NCAA has specific recruiting rules that put limits on communication at tournaments. A college coach can sit down with a coach at a competition site, but not with potential student athletes or Parents/Guardians.
- College coaches cannot have any personal contact with student-athletes during tournaments. As stated above a simple hello is fine but anything more is not allowed anything more is considered a contact. This is why they may not seem very engaging if you approach them.
It is important to take ownership of your recruiting process, be pro-active and do not wait for college coaches to reach out to you. Do your research, utilize the resources around you such as your beach coaches and the internet so you can learn as much as possible about the opportunities available for you to play beach volleyball at the collegiate level.
For more education on the beach volleyball recruiting process click HERE.
About the Author
Andrew Bennett is the Director and Founder of Tamarack Beach Volleyball Club. He is a JVA member and member of the JVA Beach Committee. Andrew comes to Tamarack with Beach coaching certifications from the FIVB and USA Volleyball. A former Division I Men’s Volleyball Coach, NAIA Women’s Coach and member of The USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Cadre, Andrew brings over 10 years of coaching experience to Tamarack, as well as over 23 years of playing experience both on the beach and indoor.