Serve Up a Solid First Impression with College Coaches

Club volleyball coach Maggie Griffin gives advice to players hoping to get noticed by college recruiters.

Serve Up a Solid First Impression with College Coaches

Club volleyball coach Maggie Griffin gives advice to players hoping to get noticed by college recruiters.

After a career that involved winning a national championship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, playing in Switzerland and the Netherlands and returning to coach at Nebraska, Maggie Griffin has learned a thing or two about volleyball.

She’s used that knowledge to create Volleyball Club Nebraska, a program focused on developing fundamental skill sets for young athletes. The proof is in the pudding. Since its establishment in 2010, Volleyball Club Nebraska has produced 11 AAU All-Americans, two AAU runner-up teams and an AAU National Championship.

During that timespan, the world of volleyball has changed, so Griffin has had to adjust helping her athletes prepare for the next level.

Early Bird Gets the Worm

“I committed the summer before my senior year, which now a days would be considered late. College coaches don’t want to recruit earlier and earlier, but if they don’t, they’re missing out on kids that are being recruited earlier,” Griffin said. “They’re like ‘If we’re not doing it, we’re missing out’ and it snowballs.”

Due to that, the emphasis on developing the fundamentals of young players builds a foundation that any coach can build on. “What we’ve noticed is in the long run that a lot of kids tucker out because they haven’t learned the correct way to play. So we are big on, especially with the younger age group, that everyone is going to play every position,” Griffin explained. “You’re not just going to play the front row if you’re tall, or the back row if you’re short, because these kids are so young and have so much time to develop we want them to be able to be great volleyball players down the road.”

Highlight Your Skills

A big challenge in today’s landscape is getting exposure in a saturated market. Because of what she learned during her days as a collegiate coach, Griffin instructs her players to create skills videos as opposed to a standard highlight reel.

“A lot of kids think ‘I have to create this crazy video and that’s how I’ll get scholarship offers, and it’s not,” Griffin said. “The skills tapes are a teaser for the coach to see what you look like, how you move, are you actually six foot tall, and then from there, they’ll make the decision if they want to come and watch you play in person and that’s where they make the big decisions.”

Highlights are your best plays spliced together in the way you want to show them. A skills video is a short video showing a certain skill over and over without cutting or editing the film. The difference, Griffin said, is that in a highlight it’s easy to make yourself look good, where a skills video can show the type of player you really are.

“When we do our skills tapes we try to film one skill four or five times in a row without cutting or editing the film. That way the coach knows, ‘Okay this kid can perform the skill four or five times in a row, they’re not cutting and splicing their highlights which are obviously going to look the best,’” Griffin explained.

Coaches aren’t going to watch a long, effects heavy highlight. Athletes have around a minute to showcase their skills, and from there coaches will make the decision to come see them in person.

Coaches Watch Everything

If your video is impressive enough to get college coaches to see you in person, they’re taking everything in. “They’re not just watching how you play volleyball, they’re watching how you interact with your coach, they’re watching how you interact with your parents, they’re watching how you react after you make a mistake do you look at your teammates, do you pull away from your teammates, they’re looking at everything,” Griffin said.

The University of Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma recently spoke about the importance of body language and embracing a team culture. Griffin echoed those thoughts, saying it’s something important for college coaches.

“Those off the court mannerisms are so important. When a player comes off the court and rolls her eyes at her parents, or rolls her eyes at her coach, a college coach is going to check that kid off their list, because they don’t want something like that involved with their program,” she said.

With recruiters scouting players earlier in their careers than ever before, it’s vital to work on fundamentals an at early age. Film the skills you want coaches to see, and when you have the opportunity to perform for college coaches, be the best teammate you can.

As Griffin put it “All the other on the court stuff is important, jumping high, playing volleyball is obviously important, but those intangibles are just as important especially as the number of kids that are being recruited increases throughout the country.”

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