It can be tricky for a volleyball athlete to understand if and when he/she is being recruited by a college coach. Do recruiting questionnaires count? How about camp invites? A phone call? Not every coach is going to show interest the same way, and interest will mean something different for every program. Here’s what you should look out for.
Haven’t heard anything from the coach or school? The coach isn’t interested yet
Even if the NCAA volleyball contact rules mandate that coaches cannot start communicating with you yet, athletes can still receive recruiting questionnaires, camp invites, NCAA materials and non-athletic publications. If you haven’t received any of these, you will have to get proactive and reach out to the coach, while following up with schools that are showing interest.
Received questionnaires in the mail? You may be on the coach’s radar
Coaches will send questionnaires out to a large number of freshmen and sophomores to gauge their interest in the program. Make sure you respond to the questionnaires as soon as possible so they know you are interested. You should also send the coach a follow-up email with your key information and highlight or skills video so they can make their initial evaluation. If you’re a junior or senior who’s still only receiving questionnaires, you need to immediately reach out to the coaches at programs you’re interested in to claim a spot on their list of recruits.
Camp invites filling up your inbox? The coach may want to evaluate you in person
Camp invites can be somewhat tricky. At camps, coaches usually have a set list of athletes who they are interested in evaluating, and they will spend most of their time watching those athletes compete. If the coach mentions specifically that they know who you are or that they have watched your highlight video, that’s a good indication you are on their list of recruits to watch. If your invitation is generic, you may be in the larger pool of athletes who aren’t really on their radar yet. Before you go to an event, reach out to the coach, sending them your highlight or skills video, key stats and a short introduction.
Fielding emails from the coaching staff? You’re probably on their list of recruits
Email is an easy way for coaches to communicate with athletes who are on their list of recruits. They may ask you for more information about your athletics, academics and character. Make sure you respond promptly, and you proofread your emails for any grammar or spelling errors. At this stage, you still need to show the coach that you’re interested.
The coach has been calling, texting or DMing you? You’re definitely a prospect
The coach is likely very interested if you’re receiving calls, texts or direct messages through social media. If the coach has given you their personal contact information, you can feel confident that you are relatively high up on their list of recruits. However, just because you’re on their list of recruits, doesn’t mean that you’ve secured your spot on the team yet. You need to keep putting in the work to get an offer.
Invited on an official or unofficial visit? You’re an important recruit
Visiting a school is an important step in your recruiting process, especially if the coach personally invited you. Official visits, or campus visits in which any part is paid for by the school, indicate the strongest interest from college coaches. They are using their budget to show off their school and create an impressive experience for you as a recruit. However, being personally invited for an unofficial visit also indicates clear interest from the coach. Not all coaches and programs have a huge budget, and some simply don’t have the ability to conduct official visits. Make the most of this trip by being polite and attentive, answering the coach’s questions appropriately and preparing your own questions. Campus visits are a popular time for coaches to extend an offer to athletes, so make sure you’re prepared if that conversation comes up.
Received an offer? Congratulations, you’re a top recruit
If a coach extends an offer to you, remember that you can ask what their deadline is for your response so you have time to think about it and determine any questions you have. Since verbal offers are not legally binding, keep in touch with the coach up until Signing Day to ensure that you will sure be a part of the team.
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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.