Playing volleyball at any level is going to run you a little cash—whether it’s paying for league fees or basic equipment, even participating in a local city league is going to cost you something. If your goals are to play in college however, you’ll need to go far beyond the price points of the local city league! This post is to help you make sense of the costs surrounding high level volleyball and give you some advice about where to draw the line.
Getting “college potential level” good at volleyball costs money
Some, but not all, of the things you may spend money on during your prep volleyball career:
- Basic equipment (shoes, kneepads, etc)
- High school and club fees
- Travel to and from practices
- Travel to matches (may include busses or flights to big tournaments)
- Lodging and food for away tournaments
- Good healthy food (you will be hungry all the time!)
- Summer camps
- Unofficial visits
- Regional or all-star teams
- Private or small group lessons
Focus your time and money on just two things
If your goal is to play volleyball in college, then all of your volleyball activities should accomplish one (or both) of the following:
- Getting better at volleyball. This includes practicing, playing, or watching film.
- Getting exposure to college coaches. This includes face time on or off the court or sending video to coaches.
If an activity doesn’t clearly contribute to your development as a player or exposure to coaches, cross it off your to do list and save some money while you’re at it.
Getting the biggest bang for your buck
Great volleyball investments (where you get maximum value for money), include:
- Attending summer camps at schools you want to attend. This is great for both exposure and development.
- Club volleyball. If you can find a club in your area with great coaches, this is an important investment.
- Unofficial and official visits. Unofficial visits will cost you travel, lodging, and food during the visit, but may be a great strategic move for getting exposure to programs you’re interested in. If you get invited for an official visit, it’s a slam dunk—great exposure and no cost to you!
Money wasters you’ll want to avoid
Read my post on “How to not get totally scammed during the recruiting process” for an in depth look at some of volleyball’s biggest money wasters. Generally, you’ll want to avoid
- Big fat all-star trips (very expensive, low exposure to recruiters)
- Professionally edited film (expensive, low return on investment)
- Recruiting services (expensive, little or no value provided)
- Personalized recruiting websites (expensive for what it is, no impact on exposure)
Keep in mind that the right thing at the wrong time can also waste your money. While I think that summer camps are a great investment, paying for an 11 year old to travel across the country for a camp at a big university may not be the best use of money or time.
Biggest money saver ever
Should you shell out thousands to play on the travel club team? Traveling nationwide is great for exposure, but terrible for your wallet. If you want to save money in a big way, focus on getting recruited to local schools. If you plan to stay local, there’s no real need to travel the country. Think about your goals and look for a club that fits you— a team that plays mostly local tournaments and just one or two travel tournaments can help you find the balance between cost and exposure.
Be a part of the expenses
Athletes who pay for some or all of their volleyball expenses are more likely to be strongly committed to improving their skills. The more you sacrifice for something, the more it will mean to you! Talk with your parents about your goals, your plans to achieve them, and how much you think it will cost. Together you can work out what is realistic for your family’s situation and how much of the expenses you can reasonably cover yourself.
A word of warning
Before you spend big, make sure that volleyball is actually “your thing.” Some families get caught up in the excitement and glamour of the recruiting process only to realize that their athlete is burned out. Or wasn’t very good in the first place. Of course, everyone can get better if they put in the time and effort. Just ensure that you’re happy and willing to put in the time and effort before you start to put in large amounts of money.
If you’ve got big dreams, go for them! You may want to read more about how the recruiting process generally works or what you can do to get the recruiting process started today.