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        Beyond The Ball — recruiting

        Recruiting Column: The 5 worst recruiting tips (of all time)

        Recruiting Column: The 5 worst recruiting tips (of all time)

        Original Article by: Fred Bastie via Playced.com & USA Today

        USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com identifies appropriate colleges for potential recruits and delivers an online DIY college planning experience for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.

        Once the word gets out that you want to in play your sport in college, the “experts” will come out of the woodwork. Everyone has advice on what will help you achieve your dream. For that reason, if you are looking for recruiting advice, make sure you are listening to the right people. Your Uncle Billy who knew someone, who had a cousin, who was second string at XYZ State University is probably not who you should listen to. Go to your current high school or summer coach and ask for his or her advice.

        Over the years I have heard many stories from many players about how to approach college recruiting. Much of the advice is good, but some isn’t. Here are the 5 worst pieces of recruiting advice I have ever heard. There is a lesson to be learned from each one.

        “Don’t worry, the college coaches will find you”

        If you ask for advice and this is the response, whoever gave the advice just doesn’t have time to help. If college coaches haven’t already identified you as a potential recruit, then sitting on your couch eating pizza, watching Sports Center and waiting for the phone to ring probably isn’t going to get you to the next level. If you have the desire and believe you have the talent to play in college, then you need to do something about it.

        It’s a given that college coaches know the 5 star athletes, but that leaves plenty of roster spots available for the rest of high school athletes. Coaches fill the large majority of their rosters with talented, coachable, hard-working student-athletes who are identified and evaluated by their coaching staff. Your objective should be to get noticed by those coaching staffs to get recruited. Help them find you. If you provide a college coach with your contact information, highlight video, game schedule and a way to contact your current coach, you’ve at least given them a roadmap to find you.

        “If you’re good enough, grades don’t matter”

        If someone tells you this and you believe it, your recruiting journey won’t have a happy ending. Listen, you are looking for an athletic scholarship to go to COLLEGE and get an EDUCATION. In order to play, you have to meet the NCAA and/or NAIA academic eligibility requirements and you have to meet the entrance requirements at any school you plan to attend.

        Most high school students and their parents don’t understand the importance of academics in college recruiting and the emphasis that college athletic programs place on grades. Quite frankly, that is somewhat surprising. On almost every television broadcast of a college sporting event the announcers talk about “scholar athletes”, team GPA’s and team graduation rates. College coaches want athletes in their program that will represent themselves and their university in a positive light and good grades are a good start. College coaches are actually encouraged by their university to field a team of true “student athletes”.

        For the above reasons, a good athlete with good grades and high standardized test scores is much more attractive to a college coach than a good athlete with marginal grades and a below average ACT or SAT score. That is a fact. When trying to decide between two players of similar abilities, coaches will go with the better student every time.

        “Recruiting doesn’t really start until you are a junior”

        If you don’t start the recruiting process until you are a junior, it’s not too late, but it is much more difficult than if you had started as a freshman. The earlier you start, the more options you will have. Potential recruits are being identified earlier and earlier every year. As crazy as it sounds, in some sports college coaches are identifying prospects as early as the 7th or 8th grade.

        I’m not suggesting that elementary students start sending emails to coaches, but as a freshman you should at least start learning about the process and identifying colleges you might be interested in. As a sophomore, you can start the process by getting on the radar of coaches at colleges in which you have an interest. If you do the groundwork early, your junior year will be much more productive.

        “You need an online profile if you want to be recruited”

        While an organized profile can be helpful in recruiting, that alone will not lead to a college scholarship. In fact, if you prepare an athletic resume, it will serve the same purpose as anything you might see online. Don’t fool yourself, the vast majority of college coaches don’t come home after practice, eat dinner, watch “The Voice” and then log onto recruiting sites to search for potential recruits. That just doesn’t happen, and even if it did, why would your profile stand out among the thousands of other profiles?

        If you will take the time to send your relevant information to coaches at colleges that are a match for your abilities, you will be ahead of the competition. At least this way your resume is presented to coaches that might actually be interested.

        “Your recruiting video needs to be done by a professional”

        While a professional video set to inspirational music might make your grandparent’s happy, it is certainly not necessary. Your skills should be the focus, not how entertaining the video is. (Hudl is usually the best tool for this.) Here are some simple tips on how to create an effective highlight video:

        • Keep it Short – A two or three minute video is long enough. A coach will decide if he or she is interested in the first 45 seconds.
        • Put your Best Highlights First – You only get one chance at a first impression.
        • Post Your Video online – Post your video online (YouTube or Vimeo) and include the link in your first correspondence to a college coach.
        • Know What Coaches look for – Different sports require different approaches. If you are unsure about this, ask your current coach for some help.
        • Show all Your Skills – Use clips that show you’re a well-rounded athlete.
        • Video Quality is Important – Use a high definition camera or your team’s game film.
        Creating a highlight video is not hard. If you are a parent and uncomfortable working on it yourself, ask your kid! I bet they know how to do it.

        A word of warning

        The college recruiting process is not as complicated as many would have you believe. If the above is the kind of advice you are getting, you need to ask someone else! And the best place to start is with your current coach.

        Recruiting Checklist

        Recruiting Checklist

        Original Information From NCSA.com

        Managing your recruiting and staying on top of the college athletic recruiting process can be stressful. Not only do athletes have to stay mindful of their recruiting season, they also have to take steps to ensure they’re being proactive in the offseason. 

        Recruiting checklists for the college bound student athlete—complete with important dates and helpful tips—so you know exactly what to do every step of the way during each season.  Whether you’re gearing up for a new athletic recruiting season or taking time to make strides in the offseason, follow these steps to ensure you find the best athletic, academic, social and financial college fit.

        Insider Tip: Check out NCSA’s fall recruiting checklists, winter recruiting checklists and spring recruiting checklists to keep track of your to-dos during each season. Then, if you’re interested in competing at the NCAA D1 or D2 level, review our NCAA eligibility center checklist to ensure you’re maintaining your academic eligibility and amateurism status.


        Going on unofficial and official college visits

        Visiting colleges is a very important part of the recruiting process. Do you like the feel of the campus? How’s the climate? Can you see yourself living here for four years? As a student-athlete, you may go on both official and unofficial college visits, although official visits are becoming less and less common. You can (and should) start taking unofficial visits as soon as possible. Official visits, however, cannot occur until your senior year. There are other strict rules for both types of visit, so make sure you’re following the proper steps for setting each up. Learn more about official and unofficial visits


        Updating your target list of schools

        As you move through the recruiting process, the list of 50-plus schools you started with will naturally start to dwindle. It will be fairly obvious when a coach isn’t interested in recruiting you, and you can remove that school from your list within your online recruiting profile. Coaches who are interested will be sending personalized letters, emails, calling you at home, coming to see you play specifically and inviting you on an official visit. Just receiving a letter from the admissions office, a questionnaire from the coach if or a coach watches you play in a game doesn’t mean you’re being recruited. Realizing what schools are truly considering you will allow you to focus your time and effort on building relationships with those coaches. 


        Stay on top of application deadlines and processes

        The last thing you want to think about when you’re trying to get recruited is probably deadlines and paperwork, but if you don’t pay attention to the important dates, you’ll most likely lose your chance to compete in college. There are seven main parts to the application process to pay attention to:

        1. Registering for and taking the ACT and SAT
        2. Registering with the NCAA Eligibility Center (for DI and DII) and/or the NAIA Eligibility Center
        3. Filling out and sending in college applications
        4. Submitting your FAFSA paperwork
        5. Requesting your final amateurism certification 
        6. Sending your final transcripts and proof of graduation to the Eligibility Center(s)
        7. Signing the acceptance letter

        Compare and negotiation your athletic scholarship offers

        Athletic scholarship amounts differ greatly—from division to division, sport to sport and school to school. While most student-athletes strive for a full-ride scholarship, the reality is that only 1 percent actually receive one, and they’re usually only offered to those who play head count sports (DI basketball and DI-A football for men; DI basketball, tennis, volleyball and gymnastics for women). The majority of student-athletes who are offered scholarships will be offered a percentage of the total cost, so it’s important to compare each package and—when possible—use them to find your best financial aid package at your top school.

        Unofficial Visits - Recruiting

        Unofficial Visits - Recruiting

        Unofficial visits will be a little different based on your age, desired division level and recruiting journey

        There's a lot to consider before you start planning your unofficial visits. Due to the new NCAA recruiting rule changes (effective May 1, 2019), how you plan your unofficial visits will be different depending on your goals for the visit, your age and the division level of the school. If you’re visiting DII, DIII and NAIA schools, you won’t be impacted by the NCAA recruiting rule changes—they are only applicable for DI schools. This means that, no matter your age, you can arrange the unofficial visit with the athletic department or coach, and you can speak with the coach while you’re on campus.

        If you’re interested in visiting DI schools, you can’t arrange the visit with the athletic department—or talk about recruiting with the coach while you’re there—until August 1 of your junior year of high school.

        If you’re an upperclassman visiting D1 schools, or a recruit visiting schools at the other division levels, you can use your unofficial visit as a chance to advance your recruiting with the coach at that school. To do so, you need to make sure that the schools you’re visiting offer real recruiting opportunities. Ask yourself each of the following questions before you set up the visit:

        • Have you already been communicating with the coach?
        • Has the coach approached you or your high school/club coach about setting up an unofficial visit?
        • Has the coach reviewed your academic information?
        • Has the coach seen your highlight video?
        • Have you reviewed the school’s information and determined that it might be the right fit for you?

        If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you’re in a great position. Most importantly, you want to ensure that you have been in communication with the college coach. You don’t want to waste your time visiting a school that may not be a realistic recruiting opportunity for you. To set up your visit, call the coach and let them know you’re interested in seeing the campus. Ask them what dates they would be available to meet you and your family. Some recruits lean heavily on their high school or club coach to help them set up unofficial visits with college coaches.

        If you’re an underclassman interested in D1 schools, there are a few different routes you can go. First, you can take unofficial visits to those D1 schools as if you were a regular student. Tour the library and the campus at large. Check out the town. Ask questions, take notes and determine what you like about the campus. This can help you better understand what you’re looking for in a school, so you can refine your target list. Don’t forget to check out some DII, DIII and NAIA schools—you never know what your best fit will be until you explore the different options available!

        Insider Tip: There are a few different ways unofficial visits can “pay for themselves.” First, schedule back-to-back visits with schools that are located close to each other. Second, set up visits with schools in cities you’re already visiting. For example, if you have a tournament in the Kansas City area, consider visiting the University of Kansas in Lawrence if you have been in communication with that coach.

        What happens on an unofficial visit

        While every school is a little bit different, most coaches will take some time to speak with you and your parents/guardians about the school and their athletic program. Come prepared with questions for the coach and use this opportunity to get them answered. Then, the coach may take you on a tour of the athletic facilities. The rest of the time will be up to you to arrange a tour of the campus and possibly meet with an academic adviser. You and your family may also be invited to attend a home sporting event.

        While unofficial visits are a great way to get to know a coach and the athletic program better, they also give you a chance to really experience the college campus. Can you picture yourself living there for four years? Here are a few key ways to familiarize yourself with the college campus during your visit:

        • Check out the library and sit in on a class.
        • Visit the different housing options, both on and off campus.
        • Meet your future training staff.
        • Eat in the school cafeteria or food court.
        • Set up a meeting with an academic adviser.
        • Hang out on the campus grounds.

        As you’re checking each of these spots off your list, take a couple minutes to write down your thoughts. It might seem trivial at the moment, but as you visit schools throughout the year, they can all start to blend to together. You can always refer back to your notes later on when you’re working on narrowing down your target list of schools.

        What are the NCAA unofficial visit rules?

        According to the NCAA unofficial visit rules, you are allowed to stay on campus with an enrolled student, but there are some specific rules the institution must follow based on its division level. For DI and DII schools, recruits can stay in an enrolled student’s dorm; however, the athlete must pay the regular institutional rate for that lodging. DIII recruits can stay with currently enrolled students in their dorm if that housing option is available to all students who visit the school, athletes and non-athletes alike. DIII schools can also pay for a student-athlete’s housing during an unofficial visit if they provide housing for every prospective student. Your parents/guardians will still need to find their own accommodations.

        Questions to ask the coach during your unofficial visit

        When you go on your unofficial visit, one of your top priorities should be to ask the coach any questions you have about the school and the program. Before you go, write down your questions and keep adding to the list throughout your visit. When it’s time to talk to the coach, you’ll have your list ready to go, rather than trying to come up with questions on the spot. Here some examples of questions you might want to ask:

        • What are the athletic and academic requirements? You’re probably well-versed in eligibility requirements—if not, read more about NCAA eligibility requirements. But each coach will have slightly different criteria that they look for in their athletes.
        • What kind of academic support does the athletic program offer? Being a successful student is the most important part of your college career. Make sure that you’ll be set up with the tools you need.
        • What commitments do you expect from athletes in the off-season or during holidays? If going home over the holidays and for summer break is important to you, then you need to know what commitment level is expected during these times.
        • What is your coaching and training style? By this point, you’ve probably played for a few different coaches with various coaching styles. And you probably know what kind of approach works best for you. Remember: The coach has to want you on their team, but you also can choose a team that best fits what you’re looking for.
        • Will I be able to meet any current athletes? It’s important to see the team dynamics, if possible. Do they joke around or are they more serious? Do they hang out on the weekend or do they have separate friend groups?
        • What are the training facilities like? To stay healthy and in shape throughout your tenure as a college athlete, you’ll need access to the right facilities and people.
        • What are you looking for in a recruit? This is your opportunity to find out what spots the coach is trying to fill and ultimately who they want on their team to fill these positions.
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        What to wear on an unofficial visit

        A lot of recruits ask us what to wear, and our best piece of advice is to err on the side of overdressing, rather than underdressing. You want to look neat and clean throughout your entire trip. For men, bring a collared shirt with nice jeans or khakis. For women, skirt, dress, nice slacks or jeans are acceptable. Avoid wearing sweatshirts, sweatpants, hats, flip flops and ripped jeans.

        Bring athletic clothes and shoes in case you get invited to work out with the team. For all D1 sports—minus men’s basketball—athletes are not allowed to try out for a team during a visit; however, the team captain can organize a team workout, which recruits can join if the coach is not present. Similarly, at DIII schools, recruits can join in an unofficial team workout. For Division I men’s basketball and all DII sports, recruits are able to take part in tryouts during visits.

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        After your unofficial visit: The coach follow-up

        When you get home, write the coach a “thank you” note. Tell the coach what you liked about the school and thank them for their time. You can also include a brief list of where you’ll be playing next so they can watch you in person. Not only does this show the coach that you are a thoughtful, courteous athlete, but it will keep you top-of-mind as the coach works on creating their roster.