The Do’s and Don’ts
- Research colleges. Start doing this early in your high school career. As an underclassman, you will have a million other things on your mind, but learning at a young age what to look for and what you want in a college experience will make the whole process so much easier
- Be realistic. It is very important to be realistic when you go through the list of potential colleges you are interested in. Will you fit in academically? Will you be able to make the team as a player? You can get a great education at a quality DIII school and play for their school. Playing DI is not set aside for that many players.
- Make the initial contact. One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding recruiting is thinking that coaches will find you. College coaches will not find you!
- Stay in contact with coaches. Making initial contact is extremely important, but keeping connected is paramount. Putting together a sports resume will help you get initial interest, but it is your job to continue to update coaches with your progress—both athletically and academically. Coaches talk to hundreds of athletes during recruiting, and they are looking for reasons to cross athletes off from their recruiting lists. Losing touch with an athlete is a great reason for a coach to cross you off his list.
- Perform academically. To get in to college you must make sure your grades are good. This is important throughout your high school years. You wouldn’t be the first potential recruit to lose out on a good opportunity because you let your grades slip.
- Attend camps and fill out questionnaires. Almost every school has a recruiting questionnaire available on their website. This is another great way to make initial contact with a coach. You can find links to recruiting questionnaires available on our free recruiting database. Going to camps is also a great way to get recognized and make sure that coaches see you perform. Don’t just sign up though; make contact with coaches before going to camps.
- Have three positive references. Get the right people to write your recommendation letters. Think about what these people are going to say about you.
- Timing. Do not wait until your senior year to get everything started. Set up a timeline for yourself and get the process started early.
- Being recruited vs recruiting your school. Do not think you’ll be recruited. It takes effort and a lot of hard work to be seen by the coaches of the colleges you are interested in. Only those very few very talented players have colleges knocking on their door to get them to commit. Most players who play at the collegiate level had to put in a lot of time and commit to the process to get to play at that level.
- Scholarships. Please do not think you’ll be offered a full scholarship to play for the school of your choice. Only DI & DII schools are allowed to work with scholarships. It is totally up to the school and the coach how they divide these scholarships. It is important to be realistic. Not that many players will receive a full ride to play in college. You are more likely to qualify for an academic scholarship, assuming you work hard to keep your grades up.
- Your online profile. Do not post inappropriate things on social media. Anything that is out on the web can be found. Coaches do a lot of research to work out whether a potential new player fits in with their program. Your appearance online will tell a story about you.
- Find the right school. Do not pick a school simply because the athletic experience you are expecting to take advantage of. Many collegiate athletes before you made that mistake. You are attending a college because of all that the school has to offer (academics / college experience). You go to a school because of the programs they have available. You do not just attend school to plays sports. You are making a decision that will have a huge impact on the rest of your life.
- Do not talk to a coach like he/she is your friend. Finding the right school is just as hard as finding a job. Pretend the coaches you are talking to are potential bosses. Make sure to edit all of your correspondence with them and use spell-check. Be professional and polite when you talk to them on the phone; it will go a long way.
- Don’t give up just because the first few colleges don’t work out. Don’t get your heart set on just 1 school. You might not be able to get in for a variety of reasons. Unless you are being highly recruited, then to some extent the success of your recruiting process might be dependent on the number of colleges you contact. The more coaches you connect with, the better your chances are to find a match.
Understand that when you are reaching out to coaches, everything has to line up for you to receive a response: (1) the coach has to open your email or letter, (2) he or she has to actually read it, (3) there has to be a need at your position, (4) there has to be a way to verify your abilities and (5) you have to come to an agreement. Be persistent, don’t get discouraged and good things will happen.