8 Steps To Landing A Volleyball Scholarship

8 Steps To Landing A Volleyball Scholarship

Collegiate athletics may be the next step in your career as a volleyball player, but you may be thinking:

How do I get there?

With this comprehensive guide, you will learn what steps you need to take as an aspiring collegiate volleyball player.

Here you will find 8 simple and easy-to-follow steps that will send you on your way to landing a volleyball scholarship, including:

Step 1: Sharpen your Skills
Step 2: Attend Camps and Clinics
Step 3: Create a Positive Digital Identity
Step 4: Excel in School
Step 5: Become Eligible
Step 6: Research, Research, Research
Step 7: Build Your Resume
Step 8: Contact Coaches

If you clicked on this page, you are probably a talented volleyball player.

But, talent isn’t the only deciding factor in athletic recruitment.

So, what are college volleyball coaches looking for?

College coaches are searching for athletes who possess a strong skill set, a solid academic record, and a good sense of character.

All three of these factors are equally important when assessing potential student-athletes.

Step 1: Sharpen your Skills

In order to compete in college, you must be the top of the top.

If you want to stand out amongst your competitors and catch coaches’ attention, you want to be highly-skilled and qualified to play volleyball at the next level.

Begin by mastering the fundamentals.

Start with your serve.

A powerful, overhand serve will prove to coaches that you are a competent player.

Next, perfect the direction of your hits.

This is a vital skill during games and will set you apart from your competition.

In addition, be able to bump, set, and spike.

Lastly, blocking or other defensive moves are fundamental skills that could prove you to be a valuable player.

Make sure you are blocking with two hands.

One-handed blocks suggest to college coaches that you are not yet ready to play at the next level.

Mastering these skills comes with practice and discipline.

Reach out to find camps and clinics. They provide excellent opportunities to practice these skills.

Step 2: Attend camps and clinics

There are a number of volleyball clinics held each year...

...by athletic companies, such as Nike, and a number of colleges, but,

Do you know the best part about college volleyball clinics?

They provide the opportunity to learn from the coaching staff of schools that interest YOU.

Clinics will help you:

  1. Practice and improve your skills
  2. Learn new techniques, and
  3. Connect with other volleyball athletes AND college coaches

Camps and clinics are extremely rewarding and it shows coaches a little more about your initiative and work ethic, which are highly valued character traits in athletic recruiting.

Coaches also look for more than just a good athlete. They want to recruit players who will be a good fit for their program. So, how can college coaches find out more about your character?

Step 3: Create a Positive Digital Identity

How do coaches measure “good character”?

With advances in technology, it is almost certain that college coaches will search for you on social media platforms.

They use these platforms to determine what kind of person you are off the court.

You can appeal to coaches by representing yourself in a positive, professional manner across all social media profiles and platforms.

Explicit, inappropriate behavior and content will deter coaches and may ruin your scholarship opportunities.

RecruitRef is the perfect platform to show coaches who you are both on and off the court.

You can share things such as extracurricular activities, volunteering, and charity work.

And:

Your RecruitRef profile is easily discoverable to coaches.

You can present all the information coaches are searching for on a single, streamlined page.

RecruitRef allows you to share your personal information, highlight videos, extracurriculars, as well as academics.

This is important because coaches will certainly ask you about your academic record.

Which leads us to the next step:

Step 4: Excel in School

By now, it should be clear that coaches value well-rounded student-athletes.

Coaches want to find student-athletes who can not only perform on the court, but also in the classroom.

A good academic standing suggests to coaches that you will be capable of succeeding at the collegiate level.

Good grades could also indicate to coaches that you are a smart player.

And, academics are an important part of the recruiting process because it determines your eligibility.

Your RecruitRef profile makes it easy for coaches to find out if you are eligible or not.

But how do you become eligible?

Step 5: Become Eligible

Performing academically as well as athletically are standards set by the eligibility centers and also by college coaches.

As with every prospective collegiate athlete, it is necessary that you register with the NCAA Eligibility Center in order to determine if you are academically eligible to play volleyball in college.

However, if you are looking to play volleyball at a school listed under the NAIA, you must register with the NAIA Eligibility Center.

NJCAA and NCAA Division III do not require that you meet specific requirements by registering for an eligibility center.

Instead, you are expected to uphold specific standards set by the institutions that you are interested in playing for.

The NCAA Eligibility Center is primarily concerned with student-athletes looking to play in Division I or Division II.

It determines eligibility based on two things: 1) your GPA, and 2) your SAT/ACT score.

How it works:

The Eligibility Center takes into account your high school GPA after completion of all your core courses and determines the minimum SAT or ACT score you must obtain in order to meet the eligibility requirements.

This is determined by a sliding scale.

The higher your GPA, the lower the requirement is for your SAT or ACT score. And vice versa.

In order to play NCAA Division I volleyball, you must have at least a 2.3 GPA.

However, if your GPA is not up to par, make sure to devote a lot of effort to scoring well on the SAT or ACT because a high SAT or ACT score can compensate for a lower GPA.

The NAIA Eligibility Center has similar, but slightly different requirements.

The NAIA requires that you meet two out of these three criteria:

  • Minimum ACT score of 18 or a minimum SAT score of 860
  • Minimum overall high school GPA of 2.0
  • Top 50% of your graduating class

As you can see, both of these leagues value academic performance as well as athletic talent.

But how do you know which requirements you need to align to?

Step 6: Research, Research, Research

There are three major leagues of collegiate athletics, each with their own unique qualities.

But in order to find the program and school that is the most suitable to YOU,

You need to research, research, research.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA, is the largest association of collegiate athletics and is divided into three divisions.

Women’s volleyball programs outnumber men’s volleyball programs in the NCAA, but many schools are beginning to establish new programs each year.

NCAA Division I and Division II differ from Division III in that they offer athletic scholarship opportunities.

Student-athletes participating in NCAA Division III have the opportunity to receive other forms of financial aid, such as academic scholarships.

All three divisions foster a competitive, collegiate athletic experience, but differ in the amount of practice time and resources devoted to their volleyball program.

For example, NCAA Division I volleyball is the most competitive and challenging division to play in.

There are also more hours demanded of student-athletes to dedicate to the sport.

Volleyball programs in Division II are very competitive as well,

But they allow their student-athletes to focus more of their energy towards their academic experience.

This includes dedicating more time to studying, connecting with your professors, and even joining other extracurriculars and clubs.

Division III enables student-athletes to spend the most time on their academic experience out of all three divisions.

The balance between academics and athletics is an important factor when deciding on a program that is fit for you.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, NAIA, is another association of collegiate athletics that resembles NCAA Division II in terms of competition level.

The NAIA governs the smallest amount of schools - only 255.

In the NAIA, there are 231 women’s volleyball teams and just 43 men’s volleyball teams.

Schools in the NAIA are predominantly smaller colleges and universities, and they are divided into two divisions.

Each of the two divisions offer athletic scholarships, which predominantly come in the form of partial scholarships.

The third and final association governing collegiate athletics is the National Junior College Athletic Association, NJCAA. It is comprised of two-year colleges.

There are over 300 women’s volleyball programs in the NJCAA, but unfortunately, no men’s volleyball programs.

Number of Women’s Volleyball Programs in the NJCAA

Division I 106
Division II 132
Division III 103

Schools in the NJCAA offer both full-ride and partial scholarships.

Typically, student-athletes choose to compete in the NJCAA because of a weak high school academic record, and then have the ability to transfer to a four year university.

The three associations of collegiate athletics foster their own unique athletic experiences.

And the experiences differ even more if you compare one school to another.

Research will be valuable in determining the right program for YOU that aligns to YOUR values and aspirations.

But once you determine the institutions where you would like to play volleyball, you now need to gather the right resources in order to reach out to them.

Step 7: Build Your Resume

A good athletic profile is key to grabbing a coach’s attention.

But what do you include in your athletic resume?

A highlight video is a necessity in the recruiting process.

You want to present coaches with your best plays and easily show them why you deserve a spot on their team.

Your highlight video should contain clear, defined footage of you.

Make sure that your cameraman has a steady hand

Or even better:

Use a tripod to film.

Include some of your best defensive and offensive plays.

If you know which schools you are interested in,

Research their playing style and include yourself capitalizing on those plays.

The video should show coaches just how talented and qualified you are in a few short minutes.

The easiest way to share highlight videos are to post them publicly online.

Your RecruitRef profile is the perfect tool to showcase your highlight video, as well as other athletic highlights.

You can include your full athletic resume on your RecruitRef profile, which is ideal,

Because:

If coaches want to find your statistics and information later on, they can do a quick search that will turn up your profile with all the information they will want to know.

Once you have set up your RecruitRef profile and all your resume materials are in place,

It will be time to reach out to coaches.

Step 8: Contact Coaches!

There are thousands of student-athletes in the same position as you, with the same aspirations as you.

That makes college coaches’ jobs hard.

Trying to find the perfect volleyball player for their program is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

You want to increase your odds of getting looks by:

Reaching out and contacting specific coaches yourself.

Once you have defined the schools you are interested in,

The next step is finding the coaches’ contacts.

Send them all brief emails about who you are, why you want to play for their specific program,

And then:

Include the link to your RecruitRef profile, which contains your highlight video and statistics.

Make sure to personalize your emails.

Coaches will be turned off if your email feels like it was sent to a mass email list and not personalized.

Talk about specific values of their program that align with yours.

Here’s a good template to follow:

Coach [insert coach’s last name],

My name is [insert name]. I am a [insert year in school] on the volleyball team at [insert school name] and I am [insert height]. I am a dedicated, hard working student-athlete interested in playing volleyball at [insert college name]. Based on my consistent outstanding performance on and off the court, I was recognized as [insert award or milestone (i.e. First Team All-State)] this past season. In addition, I have lead my team to [insert accomplishment (i.e. two state titles)].

It is because of my love for the game that I would like to play for your team and program. [insert college name] is so appealing to me because of it’s long-standing emphasis not only on the sport, but also on character-building. I would love the opportunity to support [insert mascot name], as both a student and athlete.

Attached you will find a link to my highlight video and statistics.

[insert link to your RecruitRef profile]

I look forward to hearing back,

[insert your name]

Be confident, communicative, and persistent.

Marketing yourself will put you ahead of your competition and in a position to land your dream volleyball scholarship.