The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
There are so many moving parts when you are looking to play in college. Which schools should I contact? How many schools should I reach out to? Which showcases should I attend? Will my coach help me out? There is no question that an effective recruiting game plan will pay big dividends, but at a minimum there are a few simple tasks you can do today to move your “recruiting needle” in the direction of a scholarship. Here are 3 simple tasks that should help.
1. Complete the recruiting questionnaires
Most college programs have a recruiting questionnaire for each sport on the school website. Each of the coaches are trying to gather as much information as they can about as many athletes as possible. The questionnaires are easy to fill out and it’s a great way to get on a coach’s radar. If your statistics and metrics match what they are looking for, then you will at least pique their interest.
Many coaches reach out to potential recruits and ask them to fill out their recruiting questionnaire. If you receive a personal letter or email from a college coach asking you to fill out a recruiting questionnaire then you’ve most likely been noticed by that coach. You aren’t being recruited yet, but being noticed is the initial stage in earning a scholarship. Make sure you complete the questionnaire right away and fill it out as accurately as possible.
When providing your stats to a college coach, you need to provide honest, accurate statistics and metrics. I realize it’s tempting to “project” a little extra velocity to your fastball or to round down on your 40 time, but that does more harm than good. Every college coach is going to verify your stats before they waste the time to come see you in person. If the stats you provide don’t match what they are being told by your coaches or other scouts, then you will NEVER have a chance to compete for a roster spot with that school.
2. Review the team rosters
Unless you’re a 5-star athlete, you have to approach the recruiting process like a job search and try to find colleges with an open roster spot for you. If a hospital is looking for brain surgeons and you’re a dermatologist, then you probably shouldn’t apply for the job. Sure, both are doctors, but if the hospital doesn’t need dermatologists then your chances of landing a job drop dramatically. The same rule applies for your recruiting process. If a college has an overabundance of players at your position and no one is graduating, then that school probably isn’t a good school to pursue. Basketball teams don’t need 6 point guards, soccer teams don’t need 5 goalies and baseball teams don’t need 4 first basemen.
Nearly every college website in the country has the team roster available and most can be sorted by position and graduation class. In less than 5 minutes you can review the team roster and the incoming recruiting class to get a pretty good idea if they might have a spot for you. With a little work, you should be able to target schools that actually need a player like you.
3. Send an introductory email
After you’ve filled out the recruiting questionnaire and reviewed the team roster, send an introductory email to the coaching staff at the colleges that make sense for you. Keep in mind that your first email is to introduce yourself, not to start negotiating scholarship dollars.
Start by identifying the coach or coaches on staff that handle the recruiting and use them as your contact(s) to communicate with. Every relevant coach for any college program will be listed in the athletic staff directory on the school’s website. Names, job titles, emails and phone numbers are generally included within the staff directory.
I would highly recommend you “cc” (carbon copy) every coach on staff that might have a say in recruiting you. For instance, if you play defensive back in football, use the “recruiting coordinator” as your main recipient and “cc” the other defensive coaches. Your goal should be to create some sort of accountability within that coaching staff to respond to your email. You want to hear back from the coaches you send emails to, good or bad.
There is no magical formula on how to write an introductory email, but If a college coach doesn’t know who you are, you have to make the introduction. Present yourself in a manner that will logically get you to the next step of the recruiting process. Express specific interest in the program, attach some game film, ask the coach for an evaluation of your abilities and include your academic & athletic qualifications.
Don’t expect a response from every coach, but make sure you send a follow up email to all the schools you contact. You never know when someone might have just overlooked your initial correspondence.
Here’s the deal
These 3 simple tasks will get your recruiting process started. Take a few minutes tonight and move your “recruiting needle” in the right direction.