Beach Volleyball Recruiting Guidelines


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Beach Volleyball is the NCAA's fastest-growing sport, starting with 15 Division I programs in 2012 and projected to top 100 collegiate programs by 2020, which means a huge influx of opportunities and scholarships for female student-athletes. Below is a brief explanation of and game plan to begin the recruiting process for girls interested in playing beach volleyball at the collegiate level. This is by no means comprehensive but should give you a good start to the process as well as some valuable information to guide your journey.

Part I: The Decision to Play

Question I: Do you want to play college Beach Volleyball?

This is a valid question for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is whether or not you can see yourself dedicating a portion of your time in college to athletics. College athletics are a lot of fun, a great bonding and networking opportunity and fantastic for your continued fitness and health. Yet, it requires a commitment, and an ability to juggle your studies with athletics. Indeed, there is a wide variety of options.

SCHOOLS OFFERING BEACH

NCAA Division I 62
NCAA Division II 9
NCAA Division III 6
NAIA 5
Junior College 22
Total (4 year institutions) 82

Athletic Scholarship Opportunities

Division I (per school) 6
Division II (per school) Varies
NAIA (per school) Varies

Student-Athlete Participation

NCAA Division I 720
NCAA Division II 108
NCAA Division III 42
NAIA 56
HS Student-Athletes 42,000

Note: Division III schools offer merit, academic, and need-based scholarships.

If you answered yes to question 1, then your first step is to register at the NCAA Clearinghouse as soon as possible at https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/

Question 2: At what level (honestly) can I play at?

This question includes considering your height, vertical leap, block jump, and overall talent level. You also want to revisit the level of commitment you are looking for. As you consider different levels and college programs, you'll want to have a vivid picture of the time expectations an athlete playing for that program has, as well as the rigors of the academic goals you have for yourself. For example, if you are looking to play at a Division 1 top twenty beach volleyball program and also intend to pursue a pre-med course of study, both typically require very high levels of discipline, effort and time commitment. Do the lab classes required for your major conflict with practice times? If so, is the school and/or coach willing to accommodate your schedule?

There is the "right fit" for every student athlete, and there are numerous outlets to play volleyball through college and beyond which include:

NCAA Division 1: Requires a 12 month commitment to volleyball, year-round, including weight training, playing beach volleyball both in and beyond the official season, travel, etc. Each Division 1 program has a maximum of 6 full scholarships (which can be broken up into component parts), which are used each year. Each team can only have 14 athletes on scholarship money in any year.

Division I has scholarships available based on Equivalencies – meaning schools within Div. 1 can spread money allotted to their scholarship pool depending on need, giving a percentage to each athlete, rather than allocating a full scholarship.

Below are some guidelines to help you determine where your skills and abilities may be most comparable. Having candid conversations with your coaches are also very helpful. These are guidelines, but ultimately the decision to pursue lies within:

*** Remember - there are many outliers out there-with skills and talent that can sometimes put an athlete in the conversation- so don't be discouraged- however these are the median metrics for each level). ***

DI Tier 1 (Upper level) Candidate:

Club Experience:

  • Extensive National level beach club experience, 5+ years
  • High placement at National Tournaments
    • BVCA, USAHP, AAU JO's, Cal Cup, Women's Opens, AVP, NVL, Etc.
  • All-American, All-Tournament recognition

The average characteristics of a top tier beach athlete are below:

  • Height (5'8"-6'4")
  • Avg. Weight 140 lbs
  • Block Jump 9'4"+
  • Approach Jump 9'10"+

DI Tier 2 (Mid-Lower level) Candidate:

Club Experience:

  • National level club experience, 3+ years or extensive club experience outside the national level (5+ years).
  • National Tournament Attendance

The average characteristics of a DI Tier 2 beach athlete are below:

Blocker:

  • Height (5'10"-6'3")
  • Block Jump 9'3"
  • Approach Jump 9'9"+

Defender:

  • Height (5'7"-6'0")
  • Approach Jump – 9'7"

NCAA Division II: Similar to Div. 1, Div II has scholarships available based on Equivalencies – meaning Div. II schools can spread money allotted to their scholarship pool depending on need, giving a percentage to each girl rather than allocating a full scholarship.

DII Tier 1 (Upper level) Candidate:

Blocker:

  • Height (5'9"-6'2")
  • Block Jump 9'4"
  • Approach Jump 9'8"+

Defender:

  • Height (5'6"-5'10")
  • Approach Jump 9'2"+

Special Note: Many upper level DII programs are highly competitive and would be equal to a mid-lower level DI program.

NCAA Division 3: NCAA Division III is a great venue for collegiate beach volleyball, is very competitive, has numerous ways to help student athletes in the admissions process, as well as financially and comprises many of the top academic schools in the country

DIII Candidate:

Blocker:

  • Height (5'9"-6'1")
  • Block Jump 9'2"
  • Approach Jump 9'6"+

NAIA: NAIA is an Association of Independent Schools with its own clearinghouse. NAIA has scholarships and is also based on equivalencies.


Part II: Academics

What are your grades and Sat/ACT?

Based upon your grades and standardized test scores you can effectively look at certain types of colleges and rule out others. Where can your realistically go- get in? Even though you are being recruited for volleyball, you still need to be accepted into the school.

What do you want to study?

How big or small of a school would you be willing to go to?

Many colleges offer a variety of majors, but it is important to consider what you would like to major in. Also, what is your fallback in case you do not like that field? Do the colleges you are applying to have your desired major, and alsp a sufficient variety of options in case you change your major? What is the reputation of the department? How big are the classes? What is their job placement percentage?

Part III: Location, Location, Location

Where can you see yourself living for four-five years of your life?
What type of climate would you be willing to live in?
What expenses are associated with travel to and from your school?
Is it important for you to be a short drive from your family, or are you comfortable being a flight away?

Part IV: Volleyball

What type of volleyball program do you want to play for?  Is it important that you play for a program with a winning record?
What kind of coach would you like to have?
How much work are you willing to put in?
How many players do they carry on a team?
What is the coach's method for choosing who plays? (seniority, ability, position needs)
Are you willing to possibly not make the travel lineup?
These are but a few of a myriad of questions you may want to consider.

Part V: Beginning the Process:

  1. Set up a Skills Video Session with your coaching staff
  2. Set up a recruiting consultation with your coaching staff: have in mind your ansewrs to the questions above
  3. Write an Introductory Email to college programs you are interested in: Attach your skills and game footage, along with a player profile

College Recruiting Rules:

There are recruiting guidelines that programs must follow when recruiting athletes. The safest way to make sure you're not in violation of these guidelines is to know the rules!

Sophomore Year: until September 1st of your junior year

Coaches are allowed to:

  • Send you athletic or sports camp brochures, NCAA Educational Information and Questionnaires.
  • Accept phone calls from you as long as they are at your expense.

Coaches are not allowed to:

  • Call you on the phone or send you any written recruiting information. 
  • If you leave a message on the college coach's answering service, the coach is NOT ALLOWED TO CALL YOU BACK!

You, the Prospective Student Athlete, are allowed to:

  • Make unofficial visits to a college campus. This requires you to pay all expenses. 
  • Receive a maximum of three complimentary tickets to a college sporting event.
  • Talk with college coaches on campus, and not off campus.

Junior Year: from September 1

  • College coaches are allowed to send you information about their athletic program and about their school.
    • This can include: media guides, schedule cards, personalized letters, photocopies of newspaper clippings and official university admissions and academic publications.
  • The college coach is now allowed to answer your emails and send emails to you as well.

Junior year: from July 1st

  • A college coach is only permitted to contact you in person off the college campus on or after July 1st when you have completed your junior year of high school. If the coach meets with you or your parents and says anything to you or them then this is considered a contact. Anything more than a very basic hello is a contact.
  • College coaches are permitted to make one telephone call each week to you or your parents. You can call the coach as often as you wish.

Senior Year:

  • You can make up to five official (expense paid visits to college campuses). The visit to the campus cannot be longer than forty-eight hours in duration. 
    • You are not allowed to have an official visit until after your first day of classes of your senior year.
    • College coaches need to have an official ACT or SAT score and a copy of your official high school transcript before you can make a visit. This is to verify that you meet NCAA eligibility requirements and that you are in fact a senior.
  • Coaches can make telephone calls and send written correspondence as per the rules for your junior year.

Tournaments

  • If you're at a tournament and the coach does not talk to you do not take it personally. The NCAA has specific recruiting rules that put limitations on communication at tournaments.
    • College coaches cannot have any personal contact with student-athletes during tournaments.
    • As stated above a simple hello is fine but anything more is not allowed anything more is considered a contact.
    • This is why they may not seem very engaging if you approach them.
  • A college coach can sit down with a guardian or parent at a competition site. This is counted as one of the three in-person off-campus recruiting contacts a coach is permitted.

It is important to take ownership of your recruiting process, be pro-active and do not wait for college coaches to reach out to you. Do your research, utilize the resources around you such as your beach coaches and the internet so you can learn as much as possible about the opportunities available for you to play beach volleyball at the collegiate level. 

For more education on junior beach volleyball, click here. For related reading on junior beach volleyball click here.

About the Author

Andrew Bennett is the Director and Founder of Tamarack Beach Volleyball Club. He is a JVA member and member of the JVA Beach Committee. Andrew comes to Tamarack with Beach coaching certifications from the FIVB and USA Volleyball. A former Division I Men's Volleyball Coach, NAIA Women's Coach and member of The USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Cadre, Andrew brings over 10 years of coaching experience as well as over 23 years of playing experience both on the beach and indoor to Tamarack.


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