As club programs are selecting their players and families are trying to decide which club/team to join, there is a common concern of which team to choose, a 1’s team at one club or a 2’s team at another club, and whether or not this decision affects a player’s college volleyball recruiting process.

A few key points to consider when making your commitment:

Training vs Playing

Always consider the type of practices that you will engage in, not only the classification of team. You develop abilities in the practice environment just as much, if not more than the playing environment. There are many number of successful 1’s teams that do not engage in good training sessions but simply rely upon the natural athleticism/talent of the players. Also, the role of the club coach is important, as this is most often whom the college coaches communicate with to find out more about the prospective student-athlete and to coordinate phone calls, visits, etc. Make sure your club coach is not only making you better on the court, but also engaged in your recruiting process.

What Is Your Role?

Before making your decision, find out exactly what your role will be for your team. Too often players choose the 1’s team and end up playing only a fraction of each match or barely see playing time at all. This makes it difficult for a college coach to evaluate a player at a tournament. Coach Jenny McDowell, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at Emory University believes it is valuable to gain playing time. “For me, it does not matter if a player plays on the 1’s or 2’s team… it just depends on the level of the player. I would much rather have a player play for the 2’s team than sit on the bench for the 1’s team.”

Greg Reitz, Head Women’s and Men’s Volleyball Coach at Lourdes University states “many times the kids on the 2’s team get to play more consistently, for example a 6 rotation right side or outside hitter. That usually doesn’t happen on a 1’s team because you are chosen to play a position, in addition to your teammates the Defensive Specialists that fill the roster.”

Open Division vs Club Division

Broad Statement Warning! College volleyball coaches don’t care about the title of your team, simply because they recruit the individual player, not the team. Rarely do college coaches stay for an entire match or are they aware of your daily tournament win/loss record. They watch you, with a narrow vision, which blurs out those not in focus. Reitz adds “I have no opposition against kids on a 2’s team. Even when I was at University of Toledo I was evaluating a particular skill or set of skills of a player and not the success of the team.”

Joe Getzin, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at Winona State agrees. “I recruit all levels at the tournaments, as I feel very comfortable training a more unskilled player than some other coaches. I feel that it doesn’t matter that a player is on the 1’s team as long as they are on a competitive team. They can play club level, but they should be competitive at that level, meaning being one of the best.”

Consider the Strength of Schedule

If your team is playing at the club level, make sure your schedule includes a few larger, more competitive events. This way coaches can evaluate your skill at a more competitive level rather than watching you score repeatedly against a low level team. Reitz, McDowell and Getzin all share that they recruit a mix of players who reach out to them, as well as players they discover at events. So whether playing in the open or club division, it’s valuable to have a schedule that allows you to be in front of college coaches, and compete against relatively great competition.

Take the Reigns

Don’t wait for college coaches to find you at tournaments. Be pro-active and reach out to as many coaches as you can. Once players have some match footage or a highlight video, along with approach jump (applicable to attackers and setters) and a season schedule, send an email and pick up the phone and call the college coaches. So what if your schedule consists of mostly smaller, regional tournaments, make the contacts and the coaches will come watch you! “It is not necessary for recruiting to attending 5 huge tournaments, because with today’s recruiting protocols, families are expected to go on multiple Unofficial Visits – 1 huge tournament cost can fund multiple campus visits” shares Matt Sonnichsen, former D1 Coach.

“The recruiting reality is that the number of club players with collegiate level potential have exceeded available roster/scholarship opportunities. This means that recruiting must be managed off the court as much as on the court. Just showing up at a bunch of club tournaments does not equate into recruiting success; the club tournaments are the venue for college coaches to evaluate those recruits, which have reached out to the them and said “come recruit me!”

“I try to watch most of the players who contact me. That may be in person or on video. When I’m out at a tournament I try to watch all the levels” shares Getzin. Hopefully we helped ease your troubles, even if just the slightest bit, during this tryout season, and junior volleyball provide players and parents with some helpful tips to make your decision a rewarding one. Good luck to everyone this club season and we’ll see you on the courts!

For more education for junior volleyball players and families, click here. To learn more about the JVA click here.