The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
The top recruits in the country are noticed first and recruited early; however, there are thousands of roster spots available after those players have signed. Those remaining roster spots are filled by projectable, coachable student-athletes. While every college coach in the country approaches the process of identifying and evaluating recruits a little differently, they all analyze the same information.
They are most interested in your current athletic ability, your academic record and your potential. The successful programs are the ones that do the best job at projecting the development and maturity of a 16 or 17-year-old athlete and how well he or she will adapt to college life. Understanding how college coaches identify and evaluate athletes will help you to do the things necessary to get noticed and then get recruited.
Understand how coaches identify athletes
Here are the top 3 ways college coaches identify potential athletes and some quick advice on how you can get “identified”:
- College coaches rely on their coaching staff and personal relationships to identify athletes for their programs. They will listen to an athlete’s high school or select coach; however, they seldom listen to individuals with whom they are unfamiliar. If you haven’t been noticed yet, ask your current coaches to contact some colleges on your behalf.
- College coaches review game film of athletes who express specific interest and appear to have the ability to play in their program. If they’re interested, they follow up with the athlete and his or her coach. Make sure you have a highlight video and share it with coaches at the colleges you are interested in. A highlight video can serve as virtual handshake with many college coaches.
- Finally, college coaches attend hundreds of camps, showcase events and games to watch possible recruits compete. Typically, when they go to one of these events they are going to watch a few athletes on their list, so you need to be on their list before they arrive. With that in mind, before attending an event, send the coaches who will be there an email telling them your team name, your uniform number and give them your game schedule. This is critical, because if they don’t know you when they get there, they probably won’t know you when they leave.
After you’re noticed, you need to understand how you’ll be evaluated
Player evaluation can be complicated and is certainly not an exact science. For that reason, you need to understand the areas in which you are being evaluated and strive to maximize your abilities in those areas. Each position, for each sport, is graded differently. For example, in football the basics are speed, agility, strength and size. Baseball and softball coaches look for arm strength, foot speed, power and defense.
Athletes can gain valuable insight into the stats that matter in their sport by reviewing the recruiting questionnaire for their sport on any college website. This fundamental information can provide you with a pretty good idea of what a coach is looking for in his or her players. You can then talk with your current coach about how you stack up and how to improve.
In addition to evaluating your athletic ability, college coaches will evaluate you academically. An athlete with good grades and test scores is much more attractive to a college coach than an athlete with average grades and marginal test scores. A student’s academic standing is the first tie-breaker between two athletes of similar abilities. Don’t let your study habits be the difference between playing intercollegiate sports and dominating on the intramural fields.
Finally, every athlete needs to understand that college coaches are going to look at your social media accounts. Right or wrong, they will assume that who you are on social media is who you will be on campus. Consistent profanity or negative posts are certainly red flags, but coaches also monitor social media for other warning signs. If it is apparent from your posts that you don’t get along with your coaches or teammates, that you dread practice or hate homework, it might be a sign for a college coach to steer away from you.
Here’s the deal
Understanding how college coaches identify and evaluate players will give you some insight on what college coaches expect from athletes they are interested in. It will allow you to answer the questions “How do I get noticed?” and “How do I get recruited?”