Playing for a college team takes more than talent or level of skill, and coaches are looking for different characteristics and traits in recruits for their college team.
Remember, it is the coach's team. The coach has built a culture and program that he/she wants the recruit to not only fit into, but maintain and progress during the continued years of playing. They aren't just looking for a volleyball player, the coaches are looking for someone to become a part of their culture, team, and family.
1) A Good Personality
A good personality can go a long way! Coaches are looking for athletes and recruits that get along and work together well with others. They want to see someone who is involved in their high school community outside of volleyball, someone who has a good relationship with their teammates, and someone who is passionate and motivated by different things, whatever that may be. Once you play for a team, you become a representative of that sport at the college– and the coaches want to make sure you will represent the team well.
2) Strong Work Ethic
Depending on the high school you go to and the high school team you play on, you might have easily fit into a starting position for your team. In college, it will not be so easy and having a strong work ethic will show your character and leadership potential. A coach once told me, "The girl that's working 50% but is phenomenal? Well I'd rather have the girl that's working 110% and is okay." Hard work pays off and when coaches see a strong work ethic, one that never quits or gives up, they will want that player on their team and on the court.
3) A Team Player
Volleyball is a team sport, it isn't an individual race where one sole leader takes the win. Volleyball needs six players, working together on offense and defense, to outplay opponents. Rosters consist of more than six players, meaning the six who aren't on the court want to be on the court. But a coach wants to see that players on the bench excited, supporting and cheering on their teammates. During the game, one must put aside position competition for a game competition, and back in practice you work to beat out your teammate, but during the game you give her tips, support, and feedback to win the game.
4) Compete! Compete! Compete!
Coaches are looking for competitors, players who want to win and who will work hard to do so. One way to show coaches your competitive side is to always know the score of any drill or game that you are participating in. This shows your competitive side and highlights that you work hard to get the win. It can also show a coach what happens when you are losing, do you push through and continue to fight or do you give up? Show them that you always fight with intensity, focus, and encouragement if you're ahead or behind the opponent.
4) Focus on Academics
Showing a coach that you have good grades in high school and that you were committed to your academics helps to easy any worries about the course load of college classes while playing a sport. There are mandatory semester credits and GPA requirements that the NCAA has in place to ensure that athletes are maintaining good grades. It is a privilege to play volleyball during college, and a very small amount of volleyball players go on to play professional volleyball, which means academics are important and coaches want to see that you are focused and smart with your responsibilities and priorities!
Along with a strong work ethic, coaches are looking for athletes who have maturity and grit. What is grit? Grit is courage, resolve, and perseverance. They want an athlete who doesn't give up and who continues to push through when things aren't going one's way. If you play for a team for four years, there are going to be hard days. That's guaranteed. Some days you might not be in the zone and your passes aren't landing or you can hit over the block, but if you go home defeated you will be defeated. But if you keep up a positive attitude, believing in yourself, and work that much harder to get perfect passes or a higher vertical, then you have grit. And who else better to go against a strong competitor than someone with grit?
6) Leadership Qualities
There are many ways to be a leader and having leadership qualities will give you an edge over others. Are you a vocal inspirator? Do you lead by example? Do you push your teammates to work harder? Do you support your teammates on and off the court? Do you have good communication with others? Coaches are looking for athletes with leadership qualities: honesty, accountability, humility, and integrity.
7) Passion for the Game
This might seem obvious, but if you breathe, think, watch, and live for volleyball, coaches will be able to tell. They will see your passion and love for the sport and be excited to have you on board because of your excitement to be on board, to continue playing the game that you love.
It might seem like a lot, but coaches are simply looking to find great people to fill their teams up with. Talent and skill aren't everything and these characteristics and traits are what coaches are looking for in athletes. Personality and work ethic are a key component of an athlete and by reinforcing these values, a coach might start to picture and see how well you would fit on the team.