The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
If you’re reading this article during your Christmas break, you’re apparently serious about playing in college. Well, the best recruiting advice I can give you this holiday season is to take a break and enjoy some time off. Put recruiting on hold for a while and spend some quality time with family and friends. Then, after a few days off, it wouldn’t hurt to spend some time on your recruiting journey during the rest of the Christmas break.
In my opinion, the best way to make significant progress in finding your college home is to make the following three commitments before the new year.
Commit to being realistic
Perhaps the most difficult task in an effective college recruiting game plan is being realistic with who you are as an athlete and as a student. Then you have to identify colleges that fit your abilities. If you spend your time pursuing colleges that aren’t a fit, your recruiting experience will be a disappointment.
For that reason, you need an objective evaluation of your abilities, both athletically and academically to develop a list of appropriate schools to pursue. One way to get an objective opinion would be to go to your current coach and ask him or her for an honest evaluation of your athletic abilities. Then talk with your high school guidance counselor about an academic evaluation.
Keep in mind that the evaluations might not be exactly what you want to hear, but they are perhaps the most important pieces of information you need if you want to play at the next level. Plain and simple, you need to know which level athletic programs to pursue and you need to qualify academically to be admitted to those schools. While it’s okay to pursue some “dream” schools, you need to focus on the schools that will be as interested in you as you are in them.
Commit to the process
Committing to the process means taking ownership of your college search. You have to be involved and proactive. Being proactive means reaching out to the coaches at the realistic colleges in which you have interest in and developing a dialogue with them.
Being proactive can be accomplished in several ways. You can send emails, use social media (Twitter, for example) or even make a phone call. College coaches actually want to hear from qualified athletes that are interested in their program. Don’t try to hand the process off to someone else and hope that your National Letter of Intent is delivered by Fed Ex. That won’t happen.
Commit to being persistent
The commitment to being persistent does not mean writing one email to a few college coaches and then waiting for the scholarship offers to roll in the door. Understand that your initial contact with a coach is an introduction and you aren’t going to land a roster spot with one email. In fact, it might take a few attempts before you hear anything at all.
Keep in mind that you really need to contact numerous schools, numerous times to find the right fit. The fact is that no matter how you connect with college coaches everything has to line up to get a response: (1) the coach has to open your email or message, (2) he or she has to actually read it, and (3) there has to be a need at your position.
For that reason, to some extent your recruiting process is a numbers game. The more appropriate colleges you reach out to, the better your chances are to find a scholarship. You might find that perfect fit with your first email, or it might not happen until you contact your twentieth college.
Don’t get discouraged. We all know there are thousands of other qualified athletes competing for the same roster spot you’re trying to fill. It might take some time for you to connect with the right coaches.
Here’s the deal
Enjoy the holidays! Then, if you make the above three commitments, you’ll have a great chance to play at the next level.