What Do Collegiate Volleyball Coaches Look For?




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The world of young athletes’ college volleyball is competitive, and many talented young men and women work for years to warm a place on a college team. With intense competition, what can you do to stand out from the crowd? What do collegiate volleyball coaches look for?

Collegiate volleyball coaches look for impressive video footage from recruits, as well as good gameplay statistics, physical height, academic interest, excellent teamwork, and experience in volleyball clubs and tournaments. Players should also communicate well and stay in touch with coaches throughout the process.

Keep reading to learn more about what college volleyball coaches are looking for, how to stand out, and how to give yourself the best chances at recruitment.

What Stands Out for a Collegiate Volleyball Coach?

College volleyball coaches are looking for a combination of:

  • Outstanding statistics and skills
  • Video evidence of superior gameplay
  • Physical height
  • Strong in-game and off-game teamwork
  • Academic skills and interest
  • Unique cover letters
  • Good communication throughout the process

In addition, college volleyball coaches are looking for years’ worth of interest in the game, and it is common for coaches to begin to seek out talented and exceptional players as early as 9th or even 8th grade.

It’s also important for volleyball players to get experience in clubs, tournaments, and summer sessions to hone skills, stand out to recruiters, and potentially catch the eye of the many coaches who scout at these events.

Let’s take a look at video footage first, as this will be the first way you may have to introduce our skills to a college coach.

Coaches Look for Impressive and Competitive Video Footage

Video footage of gameplay is how many young athletes introduce their abilities and talent to coaches. You’ll include this footage with your cover letter and application. The video footage should last between 3-5 minutes, and you’ll want to include footage of some of your best moves throughout your high school games.

What kind of clips should you include here? You’ll want to highlight footage of superior attack maneuvers, as well as show clips of an aggressive and successful defense. Show off your graceful and elevated serves, and finish up with 30 – 60 seconds of footage displaying uninterrupted superior gameplay.

All of this footage should highlight your exceptional abilities and your ability to help your team win and score points. You’ll need to select clips that will demonstrate your commitment to your fellow players and your unique skills and abilities.

It’s also important to emphasize some concrete statistics from your high school career and include these stats in your introductory letter.

College Volleyball Coaches Look for Impressive Gameplay Statistics

You’ll also want to include several important gameplay statistics in your cover letter. For example, include the number of serving aces throughout your high school career, as well as the number of digs and assists.

Include the number of kills as well as blocks and the number of serves and games played. Be sure to mention your hitting percentage, as this is one number that coaches will want to see.

To determine your hitting percentile, add your kills and subtract the total hitting errors. Now divide this number by your total number of attempts, and you’ll have a hitting percentile. Anything above 0.30 for this number will be considered an excellent score, sure to catch a coach’s eye.

Apart from your statistics, one thing college coaches also look for is physical suitability to the game, and this includes height.

Physical Height is Important to Volleyball Coaches

Being tall is an important part of playing volleyball well. You’ll have to jump high to be able to hit and defend effectively, as well as serve. But how tall is tall enough for a college coach?

The numbers will be different for men and women, but we can break the minimal height requirements down by sex as well as division. For men’s minimum requirements, we have the following table :

 Division 1Division 2
Libero / Defensive6’5’ 8”
Setter6’ 3”6’
Right Side6’ 4”6’ 3”
Middle Hitter6’ 6”6’ 5”

For women, the minimum requirements look like this :

 Division 1Division 2
Libero / Defensive5’ 5”5’ 3”
Setter5’ 10”5’ 9”
Right Side6’5’ 10”
Middle Hitter6’ 1”5’ 11”

Keep in mind these are the minimum heights that coaches are looking for. The taller, the better in volleyball.

While it’s important to be tall, you’ll also want to highlight awards and championships that you’ve earned or that your team has earned over the years to show that you have the skills it takes to play college volleyball well.

Describe Any Awards When Promoting Yourself to a Coach

In your application letter, you’ll want to mention any awards you’ve won or your team has won. Awards can include:

  • An MVP award for tournament games
  • Player of the Year awards
  • Rookie of the Year awards
  • 1st or 2nd division in team regionals
  • Academic awards (such as being on the honor roll)
  • Team wins

Be sure to include athletic as well as academic achievements here. Make yourself shine, and don’t be afraid to discuss your academic interests and future goals in college. Coaches are looking for great athletes, and the colleges that employ them are looking for great students.

College Volleyball Coaches Look for Academic Excellence

When you apply for a scholarship or team position at a college level, you’re applying not only to a sports team but to an academic institution as well. College coaches want their team players to succeed on the court as well as in the classroom.

The better you’ve done at school, the better your chances of catching a coach’s eye. While it can be difficult to succeed academically when practicing and playing high school sports, scholarship programs are seeking athletes who are also driven and eager students.

Be sure to include your GPA, SAT scores, names of school-related clubs you’ve served on, and your special areas of academic interest during your time in high school. A letter of recommendation from a teacher can also be worth including. This can give a clear picture of your scholastic ability, personality, eagerness, intelligence, and exemplary qualities.

Make sure your application letter includes possible college majors or areas of interest. If you’ve won academic awards, include those next to your volleyball wins, and make sure that the coach knows you’ll make them proud not only as a player but as a student.

Failing grades can cause a player to be kicked from the team, so your coach must know you can handle a course load as well as responsibilities on a volleyball team.  

Something else college coaches are searching for apart from academic interest and talent is previous membership in clubs and tournament experience. Both will be crucial, and you’ll want to discuss them.

Membership and Experience in a Volleyball Club are Important

Volleyball clubs are private organizations that help young people train and compete at a Junior Olympic level. They are often competitive and intense and are meant to prepare exceptional athletes for college sports careers and post-college professional sports.

These clubs can be expensive but are valuable for honing one’s skills and learning how to play at a truly competitive and exemplary level. Moreover, most college coaches will attend club games and sessions, scouting for talent. USA Volleyball, for example, is a fantastic resource for those looking to enroll in volleyball clubs or seeking further information.

Be sure to mention membership in any of these clubs, as well as participation in tournaments. Tournaments are the second place coaches will talent scout, and you’ll want to play your best at every tournament, and highlight team wins on your application.

Collegiate Coaches Want to See Tournament Participation

Tournaments are another place where college coaches often find their best talent. Highlight any tournament wins, and be sure to attend as many of those tournaments as possible. Be sure you’re playing at your best, and you’ll stand out.

If you’re under the weather, weigh the risks of playing anyway. However, you could get your teammates sick, or play poorly, thus making a negative impression on visiting recruiters. So, sit it out if you’re not at 100 percent. This is another reason having some video footage of yourself is a good idea. 

If you are feeling your best, give it all you’ve got and play to win, yet stay relaxed. You’ll play better when you’re not stressing yourself out. So do well, and have fun.

This is a fantastic way to shine as an individual athlete and prove to roving coaches that you have what it takes to help the entire team win.  

Excellent Teamwork is Crucial to Catch a Volleyball Coach’s Eye

You’ll be playing not just as an individual athlete but, more crucially, as a member of a college-level team. It is, therefore, extremely important to be a fantastic team player, to be able to get along with teammates, and to be both competitive and gracious.

The college coach will ask your current coach how well you play and how amiable you are with other players. Therefore, it is vital to be good at listening to and respecting your coach, as well as being a kind and affable teammate.

This skill can be highlighted in the video clip we mentioned earlier. That in-game footage should show you playing at your best, as well as playing well with your fellow players. Teams win championships, and the college coach needs to see, hear, and realize that you’re as good on a team as you are by yourself. Click Here for How to Build Sports Team Chemistry

Now, we’re coming down to the finishing touches of your cover letter, email, and follow-up. These will be important parts of standing out and give you a better chance of making the cut.

Know and Take Interest in the College Itself

Your cover letter should demonstrate that you have a keen interest not only in the sport of volleyball but in the college to which you’re applying. Let the coach know why you are choosing this college or university, and include any details about a family past with the school that might be relevant.

Go on a tour of the school, and seek to introduce yourself to the coach during this time, if possible. Highlight the role you’ll be playing on the court as well as in the classroom, and tie in your love of the sport with excitement to attend the college itself.

If you’re communicating via email, you’ll want to make sure your email title is noteworthy, clear, and memorable.

Use An Email Title that Catches the Coach’s Eye

Your introductory email should be eye-catching, polite, optimistic, and professional. You’ll want to stand out as a fantastic player while showing that you are courteous. Be sure the email highlights the intention of the letter so that it’s not mistaken for junk mail.

You may also choose to mail the application via snail mail. In an age of email and purely digital communication, sending a small package full of relevant info can help you stand out as serious, thoughtful, and dedicated.

Be sure to include all relevant information, and consider sending your video footage as a digital file. This ensures that a USB drive won’t get damaged in the mail and keeps things cheaper when mailing paperwork.

Finally, make sure you follow up with the coach, communicate, and be sure to thank them for their feedback about your application process.

Communicate With and Show Interest to College Volleyball Coaches

I’ve landed several jobs over the years simply by calling back and showing interest, and your shot at college volleyball can be no different. Everyone loves a good, thankful communicator, so be sure to follow up with the coach and reiterate your name, current high school, and interest in the school and sport.

Always thank a coach for any interaction, correspondence, or time spent talking. This can help cement you firmly in their minds as a polite young man or woman who loves the game and is eager to play, do your best, and stand out. Click Here for How to Make Your Volleyball Coach Notice You


Collegiate volleyball coaches look for a combination of good playing stats, minimum height requirements, participation in clubs and tournaments, natural talent, academic success, a good team spirit, and a genuine interest in the future college experience.

You’ll want to include recordings of your best game highlights and 30 – 60 seconds of game footage. The entire video clip should be at most 5 minutes long and should be sent electronically, even if your application is sent via snail mail.  

Be sure to attend and play well at all tournaments, and know that coaches often scout at such events, as well as at clubs. Highlight academic and athletic achievements in your cover letter, and express a genuine interest in the school you’re applying to. Follow up with coaches as well, and thank them for all one-on-one time, interviews, and interest. 

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