The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
This week’s recruiting tip should take about three minutes to read. After you’ve finished, you’ll understand what needs to happen to have a successful recruiting journey. You won’t have all the answers and there will be a little work to do, but it should be apparent to you how to find a spot on a college roster.
1. Understand the college recruiting funnel
College coaches are always looking for talent. They reach out to many, contact some and sign a handful. This is called the recruiting funnel. It applies to all intercollegiate sports, but as an example, here are the numbers for the Division I College Football Recruiting Funnel:
- College football programs reach out to and evaluate thousands of athletes
- They contact a few hundred top athletes
- Offer less than 100 official visits
- Sign 25
The numbers for other sports are different, but the concept is the same and the opening at the end of each recruiting funnel is pretty small. A complete understanding of the recruiting funnel gives you some perspective on how college recruiting really works.
This concept should make it obvious why you have to pursue colleges that make sense for your abilities. Your recruiting process is a finite amount of time and the door closes as each game and each practice passes. Don’t waste your time pursuing colleges that don’t match your academic and athletic abilities, or you’ll never make it through the funnel.
2. Know the rules
In addition to being realistic about your abilities, you need to learn the rules. Knowing the rules puts you ahead of the competition and helps you understand where you stand with coaches, what to expect and when to expect it. Take the time to educate yourself on the NCAA and NAIA regulations. Being familiar with terms like official visit, unofficial visit, contact period, quiet period and evaluation period will prove to be beneficial throughout your college recruiting journey.
3. Understand that you are who you are
Paying for a professional video or hiring a recruiting service isn’t going to make you a 5-star recruit. College recruiting services aren’t miracle workers. They can’t make you run faster, jump higher or throw harder. Also, there is no combination of words you can write in an email that will land a scholarship if you aren’t a qualified candidate. Coaches will have to see you play before scholarship discussions even start. Certainly, you want to maximize your level of competition and your scholarship money, but you need to be open to colleges at every level.
4. This is your college career, no one else’s
Does the following describe you?
- Talented high school athlete who has the ability to play in college
- Good student and good teammate
- Haven’t tried to connect with any college coaches
- Not currently being recruited
If the above describes you, then the chances of a college coach magically finding you are like the chances of finding a needle in a haystack. There are thousands of other athletes out there competing for scholarships. For that reason, you have to be persistent and can’t be afraid to contact college coaches on your own.
Finally, take ownership of your recruiting efforts. Being proactive shows initiative and separates you from the crowd. You can’t afford to sit back and wait to be discovered…It may not happen.
The three minutes are up
In summary, be realistic, learn the rules, take ownership of your recruiting journey and don’t take no for an answer.