USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Jason Smith is a former NCAA DIII athlete and college coach at all three division levels. Jason is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation, and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
Many student-athletes and their families believe, “My high school or club coach will get me recruited.” While this isn’t totally untrue, it’s like saying, “My high school English teacher will get me into college.”
High school and club coaches are there to mentor their players and teach them the skills they need to be successful at the next level. They serve as references when college coaches call or they may have their own network they can reach out to on behalf of a student-athlete. But just like a high school teacher, it’s not their responsibility to contact colleges, fill out applications and make it all happen.
So, what can student-athletes and their families expect from their high school or club coach? The answer: It depends.
To really understand the role a club or high school coach will play in recruiting, you and your athlete should set up a 30-minute meeting with their coach to ask specific questions and take notes. Remember: Recruiting is a very personal experience, and the coach’s role is probably going to differ from an elite athlete to an average recruit.
You can use these questions to help clarify what role your high school or club coach will play in your student-athlete’s recruiting.
Who’s responsible for video footage?
Often, high school or club coaches offer video options for their players—and others don’t. Clarify early on exactly what they provide and create back-up plans. For example, if your student-athlete’s coach offers raw footage, you’ll need to find a way to edit it.
1. Do you provide game and/or skills video footage?
2. Is the video footage raw or is it edited?
3. How many games will you video?
4. What if my student-athlete has a bad game the day you’re filming?
5. Can you help pick the plays we should put in the film?
Gaining Exposure to Colleges
Find out how involved your student-athlete’s high school or club coach is in helping them get noticed by different athletic programs throughout the country.
6. What is your role in helping me get noticed by colleges?
7. Do you have a relationship with any colleges?
8. What tournaments, camps or showcases should I attend to maximize my exposure?
9. Do you have a preferred online platform where players can be viewed by colleges?
Athletic Scholarships and Financial Aid
There are so many ways to package financial aid, and it’s essential your family knows all the options.
10. Do you help with the financial aid process?
11. What are the rules and regulations around athletic scholarships in our sport?
12. How can I combine athletic and academic money for the best financial aid package?
13. Do you provide education about financial aid?
Assessing Your Athletic Ability and Providing a Reference
Your student-athlete’s coach is in the best position to offer feedback on their potential level of play. Listen to what the coach has to say and keep it in mind as you go through the recruiting process. The coach will also be sharing their opinions on your athlete to college coaches. When seriously recruiting an athlete, college coaches almost always call their current coach to learn more about their character and skill level. Your student-athlete needs to ensure they have a good relationship with their coach—whether or not they see eye-to-eye all the time!
14. What is your opinion on my ability?
15. Do you think I am a DI, DII or DIII recruit?
16. What should I work on to improve my game and my chances of playing in college?
17. If a college coach called you about me tomorrow, what would you say?
At the end of the day, recruiting is a team sport, and your student-athlete is the captain.
While it’s up to them to take responsibility for their own recruiting, there are many individuals they can turn to for support. High school and club coaches want to help their athletes, and that
30-minute conversation can make a huge difference in terms of getting the support your student-athlete needs.
But don’t stop the conversation there or with just these questions. Your athlete should keep their coach informed of their recruiting progress—use them as a sounding board and ask them for advice or recommendations throughout the process. And finally, take the time to thank the coach when your student-athlete lands a spot on a college roster.