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D1, D2, D3: What does it all mean???

By Coach Rose Wilkinson

If you are interested in pursuing college sports, it is important to get familiar with the 3 D’s (D-1, D-2, D-3). The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit association that organizes the volleyball programs of many colleges and universities in the U.S. The NCAA has established a comprehensive set of rules governing intercollegiate sports, including volleyball, and an enforcement body that ensures these rules are being followed.

The schools that participate in the NCAA are divided into three major divisions, D-1, D-2, and D-3. Although the major powerhouses in volleyball are D-1 schools (think, Penn State, Texas A&M, UCLA), the D-1 moniker does not necessarily correspond directly with the quality of play in that division. In other words, there are some D-3 teams that could beat some D-1 teams in a head-to-head competition.

I put together some the more important considerations to keep in mind when evaluating playing opportunities:

Before you get there: D-1 and D-2 have academic eligibility requirements, including minimum ACT/SAT scores, GPAs, and completion of particular courses.  There are no such requirements for D-3 schools, but academic achievement will be critical in determining the types of academic scholarships the athlete will be eligible for.

What they can offer:  D-1 and D-2 schools can offer both athletic and academic scholarships. D-1 have larger budgets and can potentially offer more money for their student athletes. D-2 schools usually offer fewer athletic scholarships, though this is not always the case.  D-3 schools do not have athletic scholarships, but they can often put together a “financial package” made up of grants, academic scholarships, etc. for student athletes.

What to expect when you get there: Playing volleyball at D-1 school should be considered a full-time job. D-1 athletes are expected to train 3-4 hours every day, participate in a weight-training and nutrition program, and will often miss classes to travel to games. D-2 athletes will also spend significant amounts of time in training.  D-2 schools are more variable in their expectations of players, though the focus generally tends to land more on the academic side.  D-3 athletes will not have the same travel or training commitments as D-1 and D-2 athletes, and the focus at a D-3 school is more on academics. Student athletes at D-3 schools often are often required to maintain high GPAs to keep their academic scholarships.

Remember, do not get caught up in the idea that a D-1 school is always the best option for you. An athlete’s focus should be on the scholarship being offered, the time commitment involved, and the overall academic goals of the player.

What are the traits of the average college volleyball player?

 

  D-1 Tier 1  D-1 Tier 2 D-2 Tier 1  D-2 Tier 2   D-3 Tier 1 D-3 Tier 2   
Physical Traits 
 OH Height 5’11”-6’2″ 5’10”-6’0″ 5’8″ – 5’11” 5’8″-5’10” 5’8″-5’10” 5’6″-5’11”
 OH Approach Jump 9’10” 9’7″ 9’6″+ 9’4″ 9’4″ 9’0″
 MH Height 6’0″-6’4″  5’11”-6’3″ 5’10”-6’2″ 5’9″-6’1″ 5’9″-6’1″ 5’8″-5’11”
 MH Approach Jump 10’0″+ 9’9″+ 9’8″+ 9’6″+ 9’6″+ 9’2″”+
Setter Height 5’8″-6’1″ 5’8″-6’0″ 5’7″-5’10” 5’4″-5’10” 5’4″-5’10” 5’0″-5’10”
Setter Approach Jump 9’6″+ 9’3″+ 9’2″ 9’0″+ 9’0″+ 8’10″+
 DS Height 5’5″- 6’0″ 5’5″-5’10” 5’2″-5’8″ 5’0″-5’8″ 5’0″-5’8″ 5’0″-5’8″
 DS Vertical 28″+ 24″+ 22″+ 18″+ 20″+ 16″+
High School Exp. Team captain; 3-4 yrs varsity starter

Large school with recognized volleyball program.

All-state, all-conference, all-region honors

 Team Captain

2-3 years varsity starter

All-state, all-reagion, all-conference honors

 Team Captain

2-3 years varsity starter

All-state, all-region, all-conference honors

 1-2 years varsity starter

All-league, All-conference honors

Team Captain

2-3 years varsity starter

All-state, all-conference, all-region

1+ years varsity starter

 

Club Exp. High Placement at National Tournaments

5+ years club experience

National club level experience

Club attends national qualifiers

3+ years club experience

National club level experience

Club attends national qualifiers

3+ years club experience

Preferred but not required to attend qualfiers

3+ years club experience

Preferred but not required to attend qualifiers

3+ years club experience

Club experience preferred, not necessarily required
Other High School All-American

Select National Team experience

High Performance Camps and Regional/State teams

 

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