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 is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.
During the offseason, many college coaches live out of their suitcase watching games, going to showcases and attending tournaments. When they aren’t on the road, they’re doing whatever they can to find quality athletes for their program. Their job depends on it. That said, there are only 24 hours in a day, there are only so many games they can attend and every college athletic program has a recruiting budget. So, it’s easy to understand that college coaches can’t see every potential recruit in the country.
Based on these basic facts, if you aren’t currently being recruited, or you feel like you are under-recruited, or if you have interest in a specific program but no one has called, then get off the couch and do something about it. Contact programs that are a match for your abilities and give them the information they need to quickly decide whether or not they are interested in talking with you.
In my mind, the three most important things a coach needs to decide whether or not to contact any recruit are: (1) accurate statistics and metrics, (2) a quality video and (3) a recommendation or endorsement from a current coach. If you provide a college coach with this information they can quickly say “yes” or “no” to you as a prospect for their program. Here are my thoughts on how to assemble and deliver this information.
First things first. You need to provide the right stats to make it easy for a coach to decide if they are interested. If you’re unsure which stats matter for your position in your sport, do a little research or just go to a college website and look at the recruiting questionnaire for your sport. The information colleges ask for on those questionnaires are the stats and metrics they feel are important for each position.
Second, but most importantly, you need to provide honest, accurate statistics and metrics. I realize it’s tempting to “project” a little extra velocity to your fastball or to round down on your 40 time, but that does more harm than good. Every college coach is going to verify your stats before they waste the time to come see you in person. If the stats you provide don’t match what they are being told by your coaches or other scouts, then you will NEVER have a chance to compete for a roster spot with that school.
Matt Wilber, the basketball coach for Dakota Wesleyan University may have said it best when he told us, “Don’t tell a coach that you are starting on your high school team and averaging this many points per game when you aren’t. All it takes is a simple Google search to get to the information that we need to see.” Just give them the facts. College coaches know how to project a player’s true potential.
A quality video
Video alone may not land you a scholarship, but it certainly will serve as a virtual handshake to any college coaching staff in the country. What could be a better introduction to a college coach than an honest, impartial evaluation of your abilities? Video is unbiased and it doesn’t have an opinion.
While video can be extremely important, it doesn’t have to be professionally produced or include inspirational music and 3-D graphics. Here are some helpful hints on how to create an effective highlight video:
- Keep it short: Two or three minutes is long enough. A coach is going to 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 on YouTube or Vimeo: Post your video online and provide college coaches the link in your first correspondence.
- Know What Coaches Want to See: Different sports require different approaches. For example, baseball and softball coaches would rather see video of your skills rather than game footage. Highlight videos for sports like basketball and football are the opposite.
- Show all Your Skills: Showcase all your skills and use clips that show you’re a well-rounded athlete.
- Video Quality is important: Although quality video is important, it certainly DOES NOT have to be done by a professional.
A recommendation from your coach
In a job search, a good reference from a previous employer or college professor can go a long way in securing employment. The same holds true in college recruiting. If your coach is willing to vouch for your character, work ethic and abilities, a college coach is much more likely to be interested in you for his or her program.
Ask your current high school or select coach if they are comfortable talking with college coaches about your abilities and if they are willing to reach out to the coaches at the schools where you have the most interest. A short written recommendation would also be very helpful and might actually save them some time in the long run. Finally, ask them if you can include their contact information in any correspondence you have with college coaches.
Whether your coach is willing to do one, two or all four of these items, you should be grateful for his or her support. A recommendation or endorsement from your current coach can go a long way in convincing a college coach to take the next step with you.
Here’s the deal
If you aren’t being recruited by the colleges you want to attend then you have to do whatever it takes to get noticed by the coaching staff. Providing the right information in an organized manner will put you ahead of your competition and if you are persistent it will most likely result in a college scholarship.