The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
Most high school athletes don’t completely understand the college recruiting process and don’t have all the facts. Without the facts college recruiting can be like going into a gun fight with a pocket knife. You’ve got a chance, but the odds are against you. To have a successful recruiting journey, you really need to understand the rules, know what to expect and be ready to react to any situation.
Here are my top five recruiting facts that most new recruits don’t know.
1. You have something called a Core Course GPA and it matters
To be eligible to compete in NCAA sports during your first year, you must meet academic requirements for your core courses, grade-point average (GPA) and test scores.
The rules can be a little complicated and they vary a little between Division I and Division II, but here are the highlights:
- The NCAA actually calculates your grade-point average (GPA) based on the grades you earn in NCAA-approved core courses.
- You must complete 16 core courses.
- Your NCAA Core Course GPA is calculated on a 4.0 scale.
- Students must present a corresponding test score (ACT sum score or SAT combined score) and core-course GPA (minimum 2.300) on Sliding Scale basis.
- The NCAA Eligibility Center does not use plus or minus grades when calculating GPA.
- Honors or advanced courses may improve your core-course GPA but your high school must notify the NCAA Eligibility Center that it weights grades in these classes.
Here’s the bottom line. If you are thinking about being a collegiate athlete, you should meet with your school counselor to map out a 4-year plan of the courses you will take. You have to pay attention to your grades and test scores starting in your freshman year. If you are unsure about your NCAA academic eligibility, then go to the NCAA website and make sure you don’t have a problem.
2. Unofficial visits can pay big dividends
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. You can take as many unofficial visits as you like.
Unofficial visits to colleges in which you have interest are a great idea and can start as early as you like. 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 and you have a genuine interest in the college. Then, alert the college coach that you will be on campus and if the weekend is not during a dead period then try to schedule a short meeting.
While you are 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 adviser. Make sure you feel comfortable. When you leave, you should have a feeling about how diligent you want to be pursuing that school.
3. College coaches are people
Believe it or not, college coaches are people, just like you and I. There is no reason to be intimidated by them. 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. You will enjoy the process more and so will they.
4. Some recruiting rejection is the norm for most recruits
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. Overcoming the disappointment of recruiting rejection is a key factor in your recruiting journey.
Here are three key steps to overcome recruiting rejection:
- Accept it as part of the process. If a certain college coach doesn’t seem to be interested, move on.
- Learn from it. You need to figure out why you are being told no, so you can better understand your abilities, without bias.
- Be true to yourself. 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 might be interested in you, your recruiting process becomes enjoyable.
5. YOU are your best recruiting resource
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 expect your parents to take care of it for you, don’t ask your coach to find your college and don’t expect a college coach to magically find you on a recruiting site. If college coaches aren’t beating down your door, then you need to initiate the communication. Think about it this way, at some point you will have to talk to the coaching staff at the colleges who are interested in you. It will make a much better impression if you took the initiative to make first contact.