USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities and play at the college level. Jaimie Duffek was one of the top 50 high school softball players in Illinois and went on to play outfield for Drake University. Jaimie is just one of many former college athletes who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience and dedication, along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community, have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
Volleyball camps season is in full swing. From general skill clinics to specialized training for hitters, setters and liberos, camps are a great way to prepare for the high school season and get evaluated by college coaches. Still on the hunt for the right opportunity? Don’t worry — there are around 2,000 remaining college volleyball camps in June, July and August. NCSA’s definitive list includes the date, state, division level, camp type, age/grade level and cost.
Read more: Best remaining 2019 college volleyball camps
What are the four main types of volleyball camps?
Prospect/ID camps: The schedule for prospect/ID camps usually includes some training time, in addition to scrimmages and tournament play. In most cases, only the host school’s coaches and players will be in attendance to lead drills and evaluate recruits. If you’re hoping to get discovered, be sure to establish contact with the coaching staff before the camp. If you impress the coach, you may even get a verbal scholarship offer by the end of the camp.
Position-specific camps: Whether you’re a libero or an outside hitter, position-specific camps offer in-depth training. Coaches from several schools will likely be in attendance to lead drills and instructional sessions. While coaches might be there to evaluate a few players on their radar, the focus is primarily on developing your game with specialized drills and instructional sessions.
Skills camps and clinics: Like position-specific camps, volleyball skills camps and clinics typically emphasize training over evaluation. They are usually geared toward underclassmen and offer campers a chance to improve on the basics and have fun playing volleyball. While coaches from several college programs might be in attendance, they are mainly there to instruct campers and lead drills.
Team camps: Team camps are a great opportunity for club teams to develop their team chemistry and get evaluated by a high number of college coaches. Teams compete against each other in tournament play while dozens of coaches and scouts take a close look at recruits.
Which volleyball camp should you attend?
Are you a rising junior or senior? Sign up for a prospect/ID camp. Thanks to the new NCAA recruiting rules, Division I volleyball coaches are allowed to start communicating with student-athletes on June 15 after their sophomore year. While athletes and coaches aren’t allowed to have any off-campus contact until Aug. 1 before junior year, recruiting conversations during college camps are fair game. Prospect camps are a great opportunity to connect with coaches.
Are you a rising freshman or sophomore? A skill camp or clinic might be the best use of your time and money. Since the new NCAA rules seek to eliminate early recruiting, Division I coaches aren’t allowed to communicate with you during a camp or make you a verbal offer. However, camps can still be an effective way to improve your skills on the court and give you a taste of the college experience. To find the right camp, start by considering opportunities at colleges you’re interested in attending. These camps can help you get a better feel for campus life.
In addition, it is common for Division II, Division III and NAIA coaches to volunteer at major Division I camps, so these large camps can be a good way to get in front of many coaches.
How should you prepare for a college volleyball camp?
During volleyball camps, you should expect to receive instruction from coaches and college players. You’ll participate in drills to sharpen your skills and positioning. Many volleyball camps also include scrimmages to give coaches a chance to evaluate recruits in various situations.
Coaches will be evaluating your character, as well as your athletic ability. Coaches want to see how you compete against top competition. They want to see your reaction to success and failure on the court. They’ll be analyzing your teamwork and body language during drills and scrimmages. It’s not just about your skills — coaches are looking for volleyball players who are coachable, resilient and have good chemistry with their teammates.
Always follow up after the camp
Reinforce the connections you made during your college volleyball camp. After the camp wraps up, be sure to follow up with the coach and send over any new verified stats or measurables. Thank the coach for the opportunity and ask for feedback on areas to improve. Keep the conversation going by giving them updates on your athletic progress and any upcoming volleyball tournaments or showcases.
Read more: 7 volleyball recruiting tips