What do College Coaches look for in your position? » My Recruiting Assistant

What do College Coaches look for in your position?

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What do College Coaches look for in your position?

Image courtesy of www.thehawkeye.com. Every college coach is looking for something a little different in each position, depending on their teams style of play and their own personal preferences. In addition, each division is looking for something a little different as well.

Setters:

D1 Setter

A Division 1 Coach is generally looking for a physical setter. When I say physical, I mean a player who can be aggressive and knows how to use their height and athleticism to their advantage and the advantage of the team. A Division 1 setter is generally is 5’8” or taller and can touch above 9’7”. (Although, depending on the system they could use two smaller setters) As a setter at the Division 1 level you have to be able to efficiently and effectively run the offense; this means directing the players on the court to where they should be and telling them when they are not in the correct position. In addition, the setter must be able to adjust on the fly if the other team is targeting one specific player.

D2 Setter

A Division 2 Coach is generally looking for a very athletic setter. A setter at the D2 level is generally not quite as tall, usually 5’6” and up and touching 9’6” or more. As a setter at the D2 level it is important that you are able to use your size to your advantage and that you know how to make yourself bigger than you are by covering a large area on blocking, especially if you are running a 5-1. In addition, a setter must be able to deliver the appropriate ball to each player.

Takeaways for Setters

As a recruit a good way to know if you will fit into a program is to watch their current players and see if you have similar features as they do such as, height, block touch, physicality, and athleticism. This can be a great way to judge where you may stand in their program and how you would fit into their current system. Now this is not always the case due to changes in coaches and coaching styles, but it can be a good place to start.

Every program and division are slightly different, but the biggest key is knowing what you are capable of and then watching what the schools you are potentially interested in expect out of their setters, this will allow you to judge if you are going to be able to fill that role if you commit to that school. In addition, it can never hurt to ask a coach what their plans are for you if you commit to their school to ensure that your plans and theirs are insync.

Pin Hitters:

On the surface level, anyone vaguely familiar with the game can tell that they tend to hit on either pin. A great pin hitter is able to do much more than what is visible on the surface level. Here are the 4 characteristics that can make a pin hitter great:

6 Rotation Player

A six-rotation player is someone who has the abilities to block, hit, and play off-blocker defense in the front row, as well as serve, serve receive, dig, and hit out of the back row. Being a six-rotation player gives an athlete that many more opportunities to find the court because not only are they able to score in the front row, but they are also able to put the setter in a good position while playing in the back row. Being a well rounded six rotation player is one of the most underrated abilities.

Additionally, injuries happen and as a six-rotation pin hitter you could be called on to step into the role of libero. I have seen several Division I programs that have had an injury at the libero position and have called on a pin hitter to fill the role.

Ball Manager

As a pin hitter more than 50% of your sets are out of system. A pin hitter must be able to make almost any set playable. It is their job to make the poor sets good, the good sets great, and the great sets a kill! As a pin hitter the goal isn’t to kill every set, it is to put the opponent in a difficult position to score, putting your team in the best possible position to score.

Level Headed

As a player that receives a perfect set less than half the time they must, I repeat MUST, be level-headed knowing that their job is not to make the pounding kill off of every set, but rather to manage the game at an elite level. A great pin hitter tends to error, hit out, or get blocked less than 10% of the time while killing the ball around 28% of the time. It is crucial for the success of the team that a pin hitter consistently extends a rally via defense and hitting. As a level-headed pin hitter you must be okay with not getting the kill every rally, but rather see the effect that you had on the rally as a whole that led to your team winning the point.

Competitor

Being a competitor is one of the most important characteristics of volleyball, especially as a pin hitter because you need the will to fight and the grit to do what it takes to win no matter how poor a set may be or how far you have to run to get a ball up. As a competitor an athlete must be willing to do whatever it takes to win. You must be willing to go the distance for your team.

To be an elite pin hitter you must constantly work to better yourself in all areas of the game, manage any set that is thrown your way, have a level head, and be a fierce competitor.

Middles:

D1 Middle Blocker/Hitter

A Division 1 Coach is generally looking for a very physical middle. When I say physical, I mean a player who is very aggressive and really knows and has the ability to use their height and athleticism to their advantage and the advantage of the team. A Division 1 middle blocker/hitter generally is 6’3” or taller and can touch above 10’. As a middle at the Division 1 level you have to be able to move side to side extremely efficiently. In addition, they must be able to be available to hit on all passes or digs in front of the ten foot line.

D2 Middle Blocker/ Hitter

A Division 2 Coach is generally looking for a very athletic and jumpy middle. A middle at the D2 level is generally not quite as tall, usually 5’9” and up and touching 9’9” or more. As a middle at the D2 level it is important that you are able to use your size to your advantage and that you know how to make yourself bigger than you are by covering a large area on blocking and getting up in transition.

Takeaways for Middles

As a recruit a good way to know if you will fit into a program is to watch their current players and see if you have similar features as they do such as, height, block and approach touch, physicality, and athleticism. This can be a great way to judge where you may stand in their program and how you would fit into their current system. Now this is not always the case due to changes in coaches and coaching styles, but it can be a good place to start.

Every program and division are slightly different, but the biggest key is knowing what you are capable of and then watching what the schools you are potentially interested in expect out of their middles, This will allow you to judge if you are going to be able to fill that role if you commit to that school. In addition, it can never hurt to ask a coach what their plans are for you if you commit to their school to ensure that your plans and theirs are insync.

Liberos/DS:

“But why does he/she get to wear a different jersey?”

On the surface level, anyone familiar with the game can grasp the basic necessities for the position; if you’re going to have a libero jersey on, you’re going to have to be an elite passer and defender. A great libero is not only good at those two things and making other teammates better. With that being said, how can a libero truly stand out to coaches? Let’s dive in!

Vocal Commanders

The setter may be your court general, but it’s the libero’s duty to align the passers and communicate defensive patterns based around the team’s blocking scheme. The best “bros” can control the entire back row, taking responsibilities out of the coaches’ hands. Don’t forget about the opposing side of the net though. Liberos must identify playsets, blocking schemes,

Leadership

Substitutions play a crucial role in college volleyball, and even more so at the international level. The libero role is one of the most consistent on the court; therefore, leadership and composure are of utmost importance. I’ll reiterate this: vocal commanders. The best of the best hold each and every person accountable for every touch, and they are level headed. Scenario: You just shanked two serves in a row and now it’s match point. You better be itching for that ball coming your way with the match on the line, not hoping the server finds one of your teammates.

Relentlessness

Coaches will often preach that defense is a “mentality” — not a skill. There are a lot of players who can control free balls, pass, and dig a hard driven ball right in their lap; however, the players who find the most success are the relentless ones. Are you willing to throw your body around the court or over a bench, or do you back off when you sense the court’s edges? When there’s a hole in the block — or no block — are you willing to step up into the court and make a play on the toughest attackers in the country?

Setting Abilities

As the speed and power within the game increase, teams find themselves out of system more frequently than they would like. Strategically, we know how many teams love to utilize the  “EVERYTHING to zone 1” tactic when setters are in the back row. Go watch any college match available on YouTube. Count how many times the liberos are required to set, whether with their hands (behind the 3-meter line) or with their platform.

Additionally, injuries happen, and liberos/defensive specialists with solid hands are typically asked to step in with the absence of a setter in practice. Locally at the University of Iowa, we saw an injury to starting setter Brie Orr turn into into a 6-2 with freshman DS Emma Lowes setting through the back row by season’s end.

So do you want to be an elite libero? Be ubiquitous. Comically, one of my college coaching friends perhaps summed it up best with this: “See ball, get ball!”

Did you find this article helpful? Have more recruiting questions?  Send them our way today (lauren@myrecruitingassistant.com) or schedule a consult or athletic evaluation with our team.

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