The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
Here are the facts: There are 7,000,000 high school athletes looking to play in college each and every year. Less than 7 percent of those athletes will play at one of the nearly 2,000 colleges that offer scholarships. Given those numbers, unless you are one of the 2 percent of athletes who is being highly recruited, you really need to do the little things that separate you from the crowd. Those things are “the difference-makers” and they will separate you from other recruits with similar abilities. Here are my top 3 “difference-makers.”
1. Be Coachable
College coaches want players who are coachable. It doesn’t take long for a coach to spot an uncoachable player and very rarely can a coach make a player coachable.
Almost every athlete is coachable when they start their career. That changes over time for some. In my opinion here’s what it takes to be coachable.
- Be thankful someone will take the time to help you improve
- Be open to honest feedback
- Be willing to work hard
- Be willing to change bad habits
- Be humble
2. Focus on academics
A good athlete with good grades and high standardized test scores is much more attractive to a college coach than a good athlete with marginal grades and below average test scores. When trying to decide between two players of similar abilities, coaches will go with the better student every time. College coaches review transcripts when evaluating a student-athlete and a good academic record is an indication of an athlete’s ability to succeed on campus in all areas.
There are many reasons why college coaches want good students on their roster other than being able to brag about the team GPA or graduation rate:
- Good students often qualify for academic scholarships and in-state tuition, potentially saving athletic scholarship money.
- A good GPA and SAT/ACT score indicates to coaches that a student will most likely achieve the minimum college GPA needed to maintain athletic eligibility.
- Good grades and test scores are also an indication that a student will be able to adjust to college life. If an athlete is stressed about grades he/she may not perform to the best of their abilities.
- Grades and test scores are an indication of a student’s work ethic and achievement standards for all areas of their lives.Athletes that put forth the effort in the classroom generally put forth the same kind of effort in practice and in games.
3. Be realistic
The final, but perhaps most important “difference-maker” is being realistic about which colleges make sense for your athletic and academic abilities. This is the hardest part of the recruiting process and many athletes waste their time pursuing colleges that don’t make sense for their abilities. For that reason, each athlete who is serious about playing in college really needs an honest, objective assessment of their athletic and academic standing.
If you cannot be realistic with who you are as a student and who you are as an athlete, you will struggle with the recruiting process. Not every student has the academic profile to play at Princeton, nor can every athlete make the roster at Ohio State. Pursue colleges that have as much interest in you, as you have in them. You have a limited time to find the right fit; don’t waste it on schools that are out of reach.