Top 50 Recruiting Tips
| Nate Dorton
Original Article via NCSAsports.org
NAIA and NJCAA coaches have no restrictions on contacting potential recruits. They can call, email, text, send direct messages on Facebook, post to a recruit’s wall, and chat online— anything at any time.
The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a binding agreement between a prospective student- athlete and an NLI member institution. It guarantees at least a one-year athletic scholarship.
Create an account at www.fafsa.ed.gov and apply for a PIN so that on January 1, you will be able to fill out the FAFSA forms. Money is first come, first serve!
Communication with coaches will die down around Thanksgiving – that is the time to reach out to them!
If an athlete fails to respond to a coach, the coach might think that athlete isn’t interested in the program. To stay on the coach’s recruiting list, be prompt, thorough, and personal when responding to correspondence.
Connecting with the coaching staff before an unofficial visit is critical. The purpose of an unofficial visit is to allow experience campus life and build a relationship with the staff. But if the coaches are not eager to host you, they likely are not interested in recruiting you.
A scholarship to play a “head count” sport is always a full ride scholarship. A scholarship to play an “equivalency sport” may only be a partial scholarship.
Only send videos to college coaches who have requested them. You video might not be looked at if a coach is not expecting it, especially if the coach is from a big program that receives 50 or more videos a week. If you want to mail a video or email a link to a coach who has not requested their highlight or skills video, call to make sure the coach is expecting it.
The following are not signs of recruitment:
-An invitation to attend a camp
-A generic admissions letter
-A scout attending a game (unless the scout came to evaluate the student-athlete).
It is never too late to be a good student. A higher GPA in later semesters can allow a coach to make a case for a previously-unqualified student-athlete to gain admissions to a college. For this reason, a student’s GPA in later semesters is more important than their GPA in early semesters.
According to a study by the University of Virginia, 80% of female Fortune 500 CEOs describe themselves as former athletes.
A student-athlete only has one chance to make a first impression, so parents’ help in building a child’s confidence for communicating with adults is critical. Parents should start this process early so a coach does not later mistake an athlete’s shyness for a lack of interest.
Know The Recruiting Funnel. A college football staff:
-Sends 10,000 to 15,000 letters
-Watches 1000-2000 videos
-Makes 500 phone calls to potential recruits
-Verbally offers 65-200 scholarships
-Invites 85 athletes on official visits
-Signs a maximum of 25 players per year
Communicating with coaches is the single most important aspect of the recruiting process. It should come directly from the athlete, and it should come early.
Parents should be their child’s assistant and mentor, not just a cheerleader. The parent’s job is to prepare the child and assist with the recruitment process. The athlete should turn to the parent for help, but not for approval. Children who learn to stand on their own two feet will make better decisions and be more confident and capable.
When reaching out to college coaches, athletes need to send emails to coaches one at a time. “CCing” several coaches, or sending a mass email, is not looked upon favorably.
Make sure your voicemail, email, and Twitter handles are set up professionally, and are appropriate. These two small things make a huge difference in the recruiting process.
More than 80% of college athletic opportunities are at the NCAA Division II, III, NAIA, or junior college levels, with these schools often providing more playing time, strong academics, and a better fit for the student-athlete.
A student forced to choose between two sports should choose the sport the athlete loves most, regardless of whether this is their “stronger” sport. During college, playing a sport is a full-time job, so being passionate about the sport is critical to success and longevity.
DIII programs offer excellent opportunities that are often overlooked because DIII programs do not technically offer athletic scholarships. But DIII schools do offer grants-in-aid and non-athletic scholarships that can make the cost of attending less than their DI & DII counterparts.
If offered a scholarship, always ask for it in writing. Nothing is guaranteed until the athlete signs on the dotted line on Signing Day, but a written offer will provide some assurance.
A “4-2-4 transfer” is a student-athlete who started their collegiate career at a 4-year program, transferred to a 2-year program and then ended up at another 4-year program. The most important thing to know when a student-athlete is a 4-2-4 transfer, is that they MUST graduate from the 2-year program in order to transfer to another DI program.
Sports camps are an excellent opportunity for an athlete to build skills, experience campus life, or connect with a coach. But athletes are usually not discovered at camps. They are businesses that most often accept as many students as will pay to attend the camp, and the wide range of athletic ability makes them a bad place for coaches to recruit.
Once awarded a scholarship, a student-athlete must maintain it, which requires three things:
– Performing well for the team
– Adhering to the NCAA or NAIA rules and regulations
– Maintaining the required GPA
Division I college coaches can’t send “recruiting materials” prior to the start of a student- athlete’s junior year of high school, but college coaches CAN and DO send the following information to student-athletes before then:
– Camp Brochures
– General information about the college, generated by the admissions department
Come prepared to “unofficial” visits; think of then as a preliminary job interview. If you’re seeking a scholarship offer from a school, prepare some thoughtful questions about the direction of the program or about the school’s academic reputation. This will show the coach you’re interested and did your research.
The key to a successful recruiting process is knowing what to do and when and how to do it. When working toward an athletic scholarship, approach your four years of high school like you would the four quarters of a game. Although the pressure seems greatest during the third and fourth quarters, the points scored during the first half can be the difference between winning and losing.
Reply to all correspondence you receive. Avoid judging universities based on name recognition. There are over 1,700 colleges at the NCAA Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA, and Junior College levels. Don’t ignore any of them!
Research, research, research. Determining your best-fit school for you involves much more than just deciding which college you like the most. Not every school you’re interested in will have a need for a student-athlete of your caliber or at your position, so you need to study and contact as many schools and coaches as you can to determine which one is best for you.
Visit as many colleges as possible during the summer, holidays, spring break, etc. There is no limit on the number of unofficial visits you may take. Target colleges you’re interested in and that have shown interest in you. Be sure to contact coaches before you set up visits, they are typically happy to meet with an interested student-athlete. Remember, any time you call or email a coach, you gain an advantage over you competition. College coaches appreciate student-athletes who are proactive and mature.
Many of the best financial aid packages come from “non-scholarship” Division III programs. If a Division III program wants an athlete, it often finds a need- or non-need-based scholarship that applies to the student. Division III schools give financial aid based on how much they need a student-athlete, even if it is not in the form of “athletic” scholarships. You want to have multiple opportunities to negotiate the best scholarships possible.
The average high school coach has contact with fewer than five college coaches, most of whom are local. Student-athletes and their families are responsible for connecting with college coaches.
An invitation for an official visit is a good sign that a scholarship offer is coming. If an athlete is not offered an official visit, they are not likely to be offered a scholarship.
College coaches do most of their initial evaluations by looking at videos from reliable sources and delivered online. After watching a video, a coach may make an in-person evaluation.
January 1 is the first day seniors can submit the FAFSA – do it as soon as possible! Money is given on a first come, first serve basis. You fill out the FAFSA using information from last year’s tax returns.
College student-athletes earn, on average, between $12,850 (for in-state, public school students) to $21,266 per year (for private school students) in scholarships, grants, and financial aid every year. That adds up over the course of 4-5 years.
Student-athletes who take the initiative to schedule unofficial visits will likely move up the recruitment list if they:
– Bring a list of questions to ask the coach,
– Express knowledge about the program, and
– Arrive on time with a copy of their resume and highlight or skills video.
The wider you cast your net looking for opportunities in college, the more you will find. Don’t fixate on “big name” schools – search high and low for the right college fit.
College coaches send admissions materials, brochures, and questionnaires to high school students to see which ones respond. Those who do will stay on the recruiting list; those who don’t will be taken off it. If you receive a questionnaire, admissions material or brochure from a college coach – respond immediately, regardless of whether you want to attend the school. Even if you don’t, being recruited there may give you leverage down the road.
Call, introduce yourself, and find out who you should contact before you start sending your information to a program. If you want to be considered, make sure they are expecting to hear from you.
Make the most of official visits. Walk around campus, get a feel for the atmosphere. Do the students seem friendly? Can you imagine yourself living here for four years? Meet the team, sit in on a class, watch a practice. Pick a school you’d want to attend even if you weren’t playing sports there.
Ask yourself these two questions when considering specific camps:
– Has a coach from the school called me and specifically invited me to the camp?
– Have I had any face-to-face contact with any of the coaches holding the camp?
If the answer to both of these questions is no, the only reason to attend the camp is to build skills or gain experience.
When you talk to a coach, always ask these two questions:
– What can I do to have a chance to be recruited for your program and earn a scholarship?
– What is the next step I should take with you personally?
Research colleges and get a feel for the different types of campuses. Evaluate a wide range of schools, and understand that bigger is not always better. Division I schools do not always offer better playing time, opportunities, or education than Division III or NAIA schools.
Request to ask the coach a few questions, but remember that they’re busy. If the coach doesn’t have time, ask when you can call the coach back. If you call a Division I or II coach before July 1 or June 15 of junior year (depending on sport), they’re not allowed to return your call. If the coach is unavailable, ask the person you speak to when you can reach the coach.
You only get one opportunity in your life to go through the recruiting process. Both student-athletes and their families have to be completely committed. High school is about 720 days long, and after that, the recruiting process is over. How will you make the most of this small window of opportunity?
What you do off the field is just as important as what you do on it. Excellence in the classroom tells a coach a lot about you, and determines how likely they are to recruit you. Coaches know that good students are more likely to make the most of their abilities, and stay out of trouble.
Let your child take the lead in talking to coaches – don’t be a “helicopter parent.” College coaches don’t want to deal with players’ parents, and prying too much into the interactions between the coach and your son or daughter can hurt their chances of being recruited.
College coaches usually begin the recruiting process by sending letters and questionnaires to the freshman student-athletes on their lists. Yon can develop relationships by calling, writing, and taking unofficial visits with the coaches. Waiting to connect with a coach might be the biggest mistake you can make! Coaches from DIII and NAIA schools can call you at any time.
Only about 6.7% of high school athletes go on to play in college, and only 1.68% will receive an athletic scholarship to an NCAA school. Only 0.98% play on a Division I team. But there are countless non-DI colleges where you can get a world-class education: MIT, NYU, UChicago, and Williams, to name a few. Only about 15% of collegiate athletic opportunities are at the Division I Level. The rest are at the DII, DIII, NAIA, and JUCO.