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. Jason Smith is a former NCAA DIII athlete and college coach at all three division levels. Jason is just one of many former college and professional athletes, 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.
As much as college coaches want to watch every recruit compete in person, it just isn’t possible. They don’t have the time or the budget. Instead, they conduct initial evaluations of student-athletes online. Enter—your highlight video.
A great highlight video has the power to put you on a coach’s radar. In fact, most coaches discover recruits because the student-athlete proactively reached out to them—not the other way around.
So, let’s say you do all the work. You’ve got your footage, created an eye-catching video, and posted it to your online recruiting profile. Now, you’re ready to send it off—but when? Is there a right or a wrong time to email coaches your video? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when sending college coaches your highlight or skills video.
Try to catch them before your season starts
While the exact time frame depends on each sport, it can be beneficial for student-athletes to post a new highlight film right before their season starts. Many college coaches recruit year-round, yet there are times when they tend to be more active than others. Typically, when you’re in season, coaches are scouting and looking for student-athletes to further evaluate, so they want to see video during this time. If you grab their attention early with a recent video of your skill set, you may be more likely to have them follow your progress throughout your season. So, emailing them right as your pre-season ends can help you get on their radar.
Read more: How to email college coaches
Send updated video a third of the way into your season
Then, as your season is underway, you should aim to update your video, especially if you compete in a sport where game footage is readily available, like football. Specifically, you want to update your film and re-send it to college coaches after your first three or four games, or about a third of the way into your season. During this time, coaches are actively recruiting and making decisions about their top prospects (this is especially important for seniors). So, it’s crucial to let them gauge how you’ve developed athletically. Even more, you want to keep in touch with coaches you’ve already been in contact with, such as from camp, to show them how you’ve been performing so far.
Provide a recap at the end of the season
When your season is over, you want to update your video once again. Identify your best plays and edit your video so that it’s front-loaded with your most athletic plays from the entire season. Then you can use this final video as a way to email coaches, providing them a recap of your season.
Plus, it can also be the video you use throughout the year. For example, one of the best times to send college coaches video is before a recruiting event where they will be present, such as a tournament, showcase, camp, or clinic. Remember—most college coaches attend these types of events with a list of prospects they want to evaluate. You want to get on their list before they get there, and the best way to do that is by sending them your video. So, map out all the important events you plan on attending, and be sure to send your video to college coaches about a month ahead of time to improve your chances of getting noticed and building a relationship with the coach.
Another opportunity you’ll have to send this video is before the NCAA contact period for your sport. The NCAA Recruiting Calendars outline when and how college coaches can proactively recruit athletes, and the contact period is when you’ll see the most recruiting activity. During this time, NCAA D1 and D2 coaches can make in-home visits and meet with student-athletes on their high school campus. They can also call, email and text recruits. So, sending your video to coaches right before these contact periods will help you make the most of your recruiting efforts.
Read more: What is the NCAA Contact Period?
Getting video footage and sending it to coaches may feel like one of the more tedious parts of your recruiting process, but when done correctly, it can truly set you apart from other student-athletes. College coaches rely on highlight videos to start building their list of prospective athletes. And as a recruit, you want to provide them with a video that grabs their attention at just the right time. That way, they’ll conduct a further evaluation of your skill set in person.