The volleyball recruiting process is far different from just a few years ago when the newest club and high school coaches navigated the process themselves as student athletes. The evolution of recruiting services, social media platforms, volleyball media outlets, showcases, etc. has added another layer of complexity. Additionally, the NCAA D1 Manual is 449 pages long. The recruiting section of the manual is over 70 pages long and constantly changing. The D2 and D3 Manuals aren’t much different.

So how are club coaches and recruiting coordinators supposed to help our athletes with their recruiting process in this ever-changing landscape?

Here are a few quick tips to help you guide your athletes during their recruiting process:

1. Where to find resources detailing the recruiting rules and important recruiting information

It’s basically impossible to know and understand all the rules. I spent 17 years being educated on the rules as a Division I Coach and I still feel like I don’t know half of them. The JVA has an awesome Volleyball Recruiting Page with tools for researching programs and understanding the recruiting rules in addition to a ton of helpful recruiting articles. I think the biggest takeaway is to understand the basics and it’s okay to not know all the nuances. Most college coaches will educate you and your athletes on what they can and cannot do as the process goes on.

It’s also important to understand the different levels of the volleyball programs you and your athletes are communicating with. I like to use the NCAA Volleyball Rankings to help me with a general understanding of level of a particular program. Some of these rankings can be found here. D1 RPI rankings rank all D1 programs. The D2/D3 rankings are only regional rankings for the top programs in a particular region so you’d have to do some more research on programs outside of the top 10.

2. A coach’s role and a recruiting coordinator’s role in the recruiting process

Rule #1: You shouldn’t do the work for your athletes. It’s their job to put in the work to find themselves the right home. However, you can help your athletes’ recruiting process by checking in to make sure they are staying on task, and instill confidence in them that they are good enough to play college volleyball. It’s super important to celebrate their successes during the process and teach them that rejection is okay. 99% of athletes aren’t going to end up exactly where they planned to be. Make sure your athletes know what an accomplishment it is to be a student-athlete at the next level, regardless of level.

When athletes are toward the end of their journey, it’s okay to reach out to a few schools/coaches (of similar level to the interest they are receiving) on the players behalf to help confirm they are making the right decision. On occasion, you can ask your friends and acquaintances for their feedback on the level of your prospective student athlete. But just remember…even if your friends think your player can play at a particular school, the only real opinion that matters is that of the college coach at that school.

3. Recruiting resources available to clubs and athletes

Recruiting Services – Encourage your athletes to put in the work. They don’t need the assistance of a recruiting service to do the work for them. A lot of college coaches get turned off by athletes who utilize services. At 1st Alliance, we have over 250 uncommitted high school student-athletes, so we do utilize SportsRecruits (JVA partner), which is more of a recruiting platform than a service. SportsRecruits allows our club to house all of our players’ recruiting profiles in one place so we can monitor and make sure they are staying on task. The platform also has a nice tool for researching schools so it’s helpful to both our players and staff when trying to find out more about a particular institution. The JVRA is also another great option for clubs/coaches looking for recruiting education resources.

Free Social Media Platforms – My opinion on these is why not? If players can get their name/video in front of college coaches for free than they should definitely take advantage. They should still spend more time in the gym improving their skills but social media in moderation isn’t a bad thing.

Showcases – There are a lot of showcases out there and they are run differently from one to another. It’s important to be mindful of the number of reps/jumps/swings before a long tournament weekend, and to also do your research so you understand the value the athletes are receiving for the cost. I personally do not encourage my athletes to attend showcases, unless they are getting late into their senior year, however some clubs leave it up to the discretion of the student athletes.

4. Understanding what college coaches are looking for in a prospective student athlete

First piece of advice is when you are speaking to a college coach, don’t ever lead off a conversation or email with “this kid is one of the best players in the country” or “I think this kid would be a great fit for your program,” etc. Always be humble in your approach and leave your opinion at the door.

Every coach and college program are different. Some put more emphasis on athleticism vs. skill vs. character, etc. In general, each coach has different metrics they’re looking for (ie. height, approach touch). If you’re uncertain of what they’re looking for, it’s okay to ask. When I first started in my new role as a club recruiting director (after 20+ years of coaching/playing at the D1 level), I really knew very little about anything outside that world. A lot of D2/D3 coaches (some I knew and some I didn’t) were very helpful in guiding me and helping me guide my athletes. So, if you’re in the same boat, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Now having two years of experience in helping athletes find their right fit, I’m starting to better understand fit based on past experiences. Hopefully, you will start to become more educated with more experience as well.

If you have any additional questions and want to connect, I’m always happy to help fellow Recruiting Coordinators and Club Coaches. Reach out

View more recruiting education and resources.

About the Author

Meghan Keck is the 18s Lead, Recruiting Director, and Setting Director at 1st Alliance Volleyball, a JVA member club in LaGrange, Illinois. She has 17 years of experience coaching at the Division I level with 12 NCAA Tournament appearances and six conference championships. She coached several NCAA Top 25 ranked teams. Meghan was a four year starting setter at Auburn University and UIC, where she holds the school record for hitting percentage in a match.