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 identifies appropriate colleges for potential recruits and delivers an online DIY college planning experience for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.
A few weeks ago we started a discussion on how to make the most of your recruiting resources. We discussed asking your guidance counselor, your coach and your parents for help in your search for the right college. Certainly these are the most obvious sources of support and help, but there are other resources you should use and they can be just as effective. No, I’m not going to tell you to hire a recruiter or produce a professional highlight video, but I am going to tell you to do a little work on your own and just use some common sense. Quit pretending like you want to play at the next level and start acting like you want to get there.
Here are three additional resources you should use if you want to play in college.
Your current teammates can be a great resource in the recruiting process. Don’t ask them for help, but pay attention to what has been successful for them and what hasn’t. Talk to them about how they identified colleges and how they are contacting coaches. Are they sending emails, connecting on Twitter and/or attending showcase camps? Don’t compare your recruiting journey with their’s, but learn from their experience.
In addition to your current teammates, you should also check with former teammates who are actually playing in college. Who is better to ask for advice? Most successful student-athletes figure out how recruiting really works about the time they commit to a school. Ask them what worked, what didn’t work and what you should avoid. Ask them for advice. Everyone enjoys being the expert.
In today’s world you can literally get the answer to any question at the click of a button. Want to know how much a whale weighs? Google it. Who was the shortest president? Google it. Want to know the requirements to play your sport at a particular level? Yep, you can Google that too.
The point here is that today’s technology allows you to easily access the who, what, where, when and why of any question or situation. That includes college recruiting. If you can, take the time to learn about how coaches evaluate talent in your sport and research the colleges in which you have the most interest. If you don’t have the time to do the research yourself, there are websites dedicated to help. Either way, you need to be prepared before you can effectively connect with any college coach.
You can also use technology to see how you “stack up” with other athletes in your sport and to connect with any coach in the country. Don’t limit yourself to one division, one conference or an area of the country. The college recruiting process is a lot like trying to find a job. To some extent it is a numbers game. The more colleges you contact, the better chance you have for a scholarship.
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 you don’t have to hire use a recruiting service. In a college coach’s eyes if you hand off your recruiting process to a third party, you will appear lazy, entitled and/or disinterested. Wouldn’t you rather do it yourself and be considered assertive, confident and/or motivated?
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. Take the time to fill out the recruiting questionnaires on college websites. Research the programs you are most interested in. Then be creative and strategic when you reach out to the coaches.
When you send an email to a coach, personalize it if you can. For example, congratulate him or her on a great season, or mention something specific about the school. When you sign up for a camp, send an email notifying the coaches you will be attending, introduce yourself while you are there, thank them before you leave and then send a follow up email a few days later. Think about each step of your recruiting process and try to maximize your exposure.
The college recruiting process is about introducing yourself to the right coaches and developing a dialogue with them so you can pursue your goal. My best advice is to be proactive, be confident and be yourself.
Here’s the deal
If you really want to play in college, be sure to use all your available recruiting resources. They include, but are not limited to:
- Your Guidance Counselor
- Your Coach
- Your Parents
- Your teammates
If you don’t use every resource to find the right college match, you’re limiting or potentially eliminating your opportunities to get to the next level!