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.
For many high school athletes the search for a college scholarship can be frustrating, intimidating and time-consuming. This is the case primarily because the first time you go through the recruiting process is the only time you will go through the process. You don’t know the rules, you don’t know what to expect and you probably don’t know all the facts. Without the facts, college recruiting can be like going elephant hunting with a BB gun. All you’re going to do is frustrate yourself and annoy the elephant. To have a successful recruiting journey, you really need to understand the process and be ready to react to any situation. Here are 5 recruiting facts that most new recruits need to know, but generally don’t know.
You can’t fool college coaches
One of the worst things a potential recruit can do is exaggerate his or her abilities or statistics. I know it’s tempting to “round up” or to “project” where your stats might be in a month or two, but every college coach can see through that. The good news is that by watching video most college coaches can project where you will be athletically when you arrive on campus.
You can be certain that before a college coach ever becomes seriously interested in you or any athlete, that athlete’s abilities are cross-checked and/or verified with his or her current coach. Then, they will want to have the “eye-ball test”. College coaches will have to see you play before they ever express real interest. Once they see you perform, they will know if you are a candidate for their program. Bottom line, if you feel like you need to “project” your statistics or abilities for a certain coach to be interested, you probably aren’t looking at the right schools.
Unofficial visits can be worth the effort
Believe it or not, unofficial visits can be used much the same way as attending a camp or showcase event. The simple definition of an unofficial visit is anytime you (or you and your parents) visit a college and your parents foot the bill.
Unofficial visits to colleges in which you have interest are a great idea and can start as early as you like; however, for your unofficial visits to be effective, you need to be strategic with the colleges you go to. Make sure the program is a match for your abilities. Then alert the coaching staff that you will be on campus and try to schedule a short meeting.
While you’re on campus, soak it all in. Go to the Student Union, watch the team practice or play a game, take a tour of the campus, meet with the academic advisor. Make sure you feel comfortable. When you leave, you should have a realistic idea about how diligent you want to be pursuing that school.
College coaches are people too!
College coaches are people, just like you and I. I know they are the ones with the scholarships to hand out, but there is absolutely no reason to be intimidated by them. If a college coach comes to see you play, don’t worry about making a mistake. You are not perfect and believe it or not, they know that. The stress will become overwhelming if you don’t put everything into perspective. Every single coach was once an athlete and I promise they made their share of mistakes.
If/when you actually meet with a college coach, be yourself! Relax! They really just want to get to know you as an athlete, a student and a person. You will enjoy the process more if you relax and so will they. I understand you don’t want to say the wrong thing or irritate a college coach, but if you are polite, to-the-point and respectful, you will most likely make a good impression.
Recruiting rejection is the norm
Rejection is a part of the college recruiting process. No matter how good a student-athlete you are, not every college coach in the country is going to fall in love with you. How you deal with recruiting rejection is a key factor in your recruiting journey. Here are three steps that should help you overcome recruiting rejection:
- Accept it as part of the process. If a certain college coach doesn’t seem to be interested, don’t take it personally and move on.
- Learn from it. Don’t put pressure on yourself by trying to be something you are not. Look at rejection as a form of evaluation. Once you know the kinds of colleges that are interested in you, your recruiting process becomes enjoyable.
- Make an adjustment, if necessary. If the coaches you are contacting aren’t responding it’s probably time to reevaluate the colleges you are pursuing.
Your best recruiting resource is free and easily accessible
I am a firm believer that YOU are your best recruiting resource. There is no one better to pick your college home than you. Don’t let your parents take care of it for you, don’t ask your coach to find your college and make sure you are the one making the important decisions. Do you want to go to a small school or a large school? Do you want to stay close to home? Is college budget a factor? You have to answer the questions that are important to you to be certain you will have a great college experience!
Here’s the deal
Knowledge is power. The more you know about college recruiting, the better chance your recruiting journey will be successful. If you are honest with your abilities and persistent in the process, you will have a great chance to continue your athletic career.