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. Kyle Winters was a standout high school pitcher who tossed seven scoreless innings in a major tournament during his senior year. That performance against some heavy-hitting future MLB draft picks helped Kyle earn a full-ride scholarship to the University of New Mexico. However, Kyle opted to play professional baseball and was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the fifth round and played seven seasons for various minor league teams.
Kyle 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.
Student-athletes should take charge of their own recruiting efforts, but that doesn’t mean they have to go it alone. In fact, recruiting is really a team effort. While parents play a key role in helping determine their athlete’s path to college, a high school or club coach can also bring a lot to the recruiting table. From personal connections with college coaches to evaluations and recommendations, there are a variety of ways your athlete’s current coach can offer support. Check out these five key ways a high school or club coach can give your recruiting process a boost.
Open doors to college coaches
Many high school and club coaches have built strong relationships with college coaches and programs over the years. College coaches respect another coach’s input and recommendations. Once you’ve built your list of target schools, your athlete should take it to their current coach and ask if they have a relationship with any coaches on your list. If so, see if they could provide an introduction.
“College coaches will often reach out to high school coaches they know,” says Michael Scott, Long Distance Chair of USA Track & Field. “Even if the college coach moves to a new school or a new region, they’ll continue recruiting from the same areas. They’ll still call the same high school coaches to ask, ‘Who’s good on your team? Who should I be looking at?’”
While an introduction may give your athlete an in, don’t get tunnel vision. Just because their current coach has a relationship with a college program doesn’t automatically make it the right choice. Plus, the connection doesn’t automatically ensure your son or daughter a roster spot. Make sure your athlete approaches their college decision from all angles to find the right fit. While an introduction may get them noticed, your athlete will need to continue to impress the coach with their athletic and academic talent.
Give you an honest evaluation
Trying to gauge if your athlete is really D1? For parents, giving an unbiased assessment of your child’s talent and potential is next to impossible. Fortunately, their high school or club coach is in a great position to provide an honest evaluation. Throughout the season, their coach has a front row seat to assess abilities, work ethic and intangibles. They see how your athlete deals with success, responds to adversity, performs in crunch time and treats their teammates.
As you navigate the recruiting journey, your athlete should talk to their coach about their future as a college athlete. Which division level is realistic? What strengths should they include in your highlight video? Where do they need to improve?
“Athletes should sit down with coach and ask them what types of programs they should be looking at based on their personality, training history and strengths and weaknesses,” Scott says. “Anyone who’s coached for a while should be able to help out and give good advice.”
Set up a call with a college coach
According to NCAA recruiting rules, D1 coaches can’t contact athletes until September 1 of their junior year. However, as a recruit, you can call coaches at any time—and they can answer. Once you identify your target list of schools and start making calls to coaches, you’ll probably get the answering machine more often than not. College coaches are notoriously busy year-round. If they miss your call, they aren’t allowed to call you back, but they are allowed to contact your high school or club coach to schedule a time for you to call again. If you get the voicemail, leave a message with your high school or club coach’s contact info.
Don’t leave your current coach in the dark—let them know you’d like their help getting in touch with a college coach. Give them the college coach’s contact info and ask if they can set something up. Provide a few dates and times when you’re available to make the call. Once you’ve got the college coach on the line, make sure not to ask one of these 19 questions.
Your first stop for video
Many high school and club coaches record video of games to analyze positioning and pinpoint areas that need improvement. If your athlete’s coach takes video or arranges for someone else to film games, ask for a copy. Keep in mind—you’ll still need to find a way to edit the raw footage into a highlight video before sending it to college coaches.
Getting a recommendation
What would your athlete’s current coach say about them if a college coach called today? When college coaches identify an athlete as a top recruit, they nearly always call their high school or club coach to learn more about the athlete’s character, attitude and talent. Whether or not they mesh with their current coach’s personality and coaching style, your athlete should try their best to stay on good terms. The way your current coach describes their behavior and work ethic could have a huge impact.
If your child is getting heavily recruited by a coach, give their current coach a heads up. Let them know they may receive a call for a recommendation and see if they need any information from you or your child to give a complete assessment.
At the end of the day, your athlete is essentially the team captain of their recruiting process. While parents and coaches can offer support and guidance, it ultimately comes down to your child’s athletic and academic performance as well as the effort they put into getting recruited. By working with their current coach, an athlete can learn where they need to improve, determine their best division fit, get much-needed video and most importantly, maximize their exposure with college coaches.