USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting and is the affordable solution to high-priced recruiting companies. Their technology-based recruiting software identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting advisers provide a recruiting experience that is trusted by college coaches and backed by a money-back guarantee
Every athlete’s recruiting journey is different, but most recruits face similar circumstances and challenges. If you believe that you have the talent to play in college and you’re a good student and a good teammate, then here are 10 simple recruiting tips that should make your recruiting process easier and less stressful.
1. Start the Recruiting Process early
If you wait to start the college recruiting process the summer after your junior year in high school, you will be in “panic mode” your entire senior year. It’s never too early to start thinking about where you would like to play, and which colleges are the most appropriate for you. In today’s competitive recruiting environment, athletes are committing to colleges earlier and earlier every year. Don’t wait until the senior year to decide to kick it in gear!
2. Don’t waste your time on the wrong schools
In my opinion, contacting the wrong schools is the #1 source of frustration for college recruits and their parents. There is nothing worse than sending multiple emails to numerous college coaches and receiving no responses. If you’re going to contact unrealistic colleges, you might as well just wait and hope the colleges contact you.
The first step to identifying the right colleges is to understand which level colleges match your athletic abilities. To do that, have a candid conversation with your current coach. Just ask for an honest opinion on how you stack up with other players in your sport.
The second step is to make sure you qualify academically. If you don’t qualify academically for a college, then an athletic scholarship is not in the cards. A little research on each school website should answer this question quickly. Once you’ve completed these two steps, creating a list of appropriate colleges isn’t hard.
3. An online profile won’t get you recruited
An online profile can be helpful to any athlete’s recruiting process. That said, every recruit needs to understand that posting a profile online and waiting for the scholarship offers to roll in the door is like hoping the homecoming queen will ask you out on a date when she doesn’t even know your name. Most college coaches don’t spend their evenings scouring through thousands of profiles on recruiting sites. And even if they did, what makes you think your profile will stand out from the others, or that the right college coaches will even see it?
The most effective way to use an online profile/resume is for you (the recruit) to share a link to your profile with the coaches you have identified as realistic possibilities. Don’t wait around and hope the exact right coach accidently stumbles upon your profile. It’s probably not going to happen.
4. Have a quality video ready for college coaches to view
A recruiting video is going to give you a competitive advantage against every college recruit that doesn’t have one. There is no quicker way to have a college coach see you compete. I highly suggest that you invest the time and energy into creating a video of your skills that you can be proud of. Consider your recruiting video as a “virtual handshake” or introduction to any college program in the country.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Your three best recruiting resources are extremely accessible and don’t cost a penny! They are your high school guidance counselor, your current coach and your parents. Taking advantage of all three will go a long way toward finding a college roster spot. Your guidance counselor can help you identify the colleges that match your academic profile, your coach can help you identify the right schools athletically and your parents can help organize and manage your recruiting process.
6. NCAA Division I is not the only option
High school athletes need to understand that NCAA Division I is not the only or even the best option. You can find an athletic scholarship in most sports at the NCAA Division II, NAIA and junior college levels. These schools offer a quality education, an opportunity for a high school athlete to continue his or her athletic career and a scholarship to help cover the costs. Don’t rule out NCAA Division III schools either. Although these schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, they do offer grants, loans and other financial aid and the athletic department generally can be a big help.
7. Don’t rely on someone else to find your scholarship
Be the driver, not the passenger in your college recruiting journey. If you rely on someone else to find your scholarship, you may not like the result. While college coaches like hearing from your current coach endorsing your abilities, ultimately, being in contact with college coaches is your responsibility. If you want that scholarship, you need to be the primary contact for the college coaches. They love to see athletes taking initiative to reach out to them. It makes their job easier!
8. Academics Matter
Many parents and students don’t understand the importance of academics in the college recruiting process and the emphasis that college athletic programs place on grades. Good grades and high standardized test scores make a student much more attractive to a college coach.
Here is a simple formula: ATHLETICS + ACADEMICS = COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP.
9. Develop a game plan and be persistent
The best advice I can give any recruit is to develop a recruiting game plan and be persistent. Developing a game plan is really not that hard: (1) identify realistic colleges, (2) get your coach involved as a reference, and (3) reach out to the schools on your list. If you follow this game plan and invest a few minutes a day, three times a week, you will find your college scholarship.
10. No regrets
If you truly have the desire to play your sport in college, the last thing you want as a college freshman is to be asking yourself “What happened?” It would be a terrible feeling to wonder why you aren’t on a college roster if you really believe you’re good enough. For that reason, my advice to every recruit is to leave no recruiting stone unturned. Do everything you can to make your dream a reality. Not every talented athlete is “discovered” by college coaches. Sometimes you have to make things happen and this might be one of those times.
Here’s the deal
If have some talent and want to play at the next level, finding an athletic scholarship isn’t as difficult as you might think. Follow these 10 and your recruiting process will be a success.