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If your child is elite enough to play at the college level, you may be wondering what is the next step. Did you know that the average high school coach contacts fewer than five college coaches? That’s right – It is the athlete’s burden to contact college coaches. Navigating the world of athletic college recruitment can feel overwhelming. Here are 8 tips to help manage the process.
1. Be Direct
Communicate your interest directly. It’s not time to be shy. Ask directly whether the coach is interested in you. Ask how much money is available. Be honest about which schools you are interested in, particularly if you received offers from other colleges. This can potentially incentivize coaches to make you an offer. But, be careful and don’t try to pit coaches against each other. This can backfire as the coaching community is smaller than you think.
2. The Parent’s Role
Best practice is for the communication to come directly from the athlete, however, parents can and should assist with the recruiting process. For example, parents can take a larger role if the athlete is shy. Even if you think you are unqualified as a parent, the recruitment process mirrors the job interview process. Thus, parents will have much more experience and insight than the athlete.
3. Start Early
Email coaches as early as freshman year. Keep in mind that coaches must comply with the NCAA restrictions and cannot contact you before junior year. Build a rapport by introducing yourself. Continue to update the coach on your academic and athletic progress. This tactic can give you an edge over other candidates who delay.
4. Use Social Media
Coaches have limited time and resources for recruitment. Use the internet to promote yourself and get noticed. Upload highlight videos through YouTube. Tweet and post your videos. Use social media to follow colleges and coaches that you are interested in. Be bold and tweet the video to a coach. However, your social media page represents you and could be a first impression. This is a place where the coach will gain a sense of your personality off the field. Be professional and appropriate. Make sure that everything posted on social media is something that you would be comfortable with a potential coach viewing.
5. Academic Success
Aside from eligibility, good academics make you valuable to the coach. Keep your grades up. Prepare for the ACT and SAT. Partial athletic scholarships can be supplemented with academic scholarships, saving the coach athletic money for other recruits. Even after you commit to a college, maintain your grades through graduation. Letting your grades slip can send a warning sign to the coach. You want to start your college athletic career with the best foot forward.
6. Manage expectations
Unless you are destined to play professionally, you want to choose a college that is both a good fit academically and athletically. To start, it’s important to know which division you are aiming for. If you want to play NCAA Division I, ask a coach or teammate that you trust to give you an opinion on whether or not you could be a Division I recruit. Consider all the options. Most NCAA Division II, NAIA, and junior colleges offer athletic scholarships. Division III programs do not offer athletic scholarships, but can offer other financial packages that make them competitive with the other division colleges.
7. Schedule a Visit
An official visit invitation is a great indicator the coach is interested in you. If you do not receive an official visit invitation, consider taking initiative and scheduling an unofficial visit. The coach will know that you are interested. The visit will help you determine whether the college is a good fit. Sit in on a class. Although college athletics can feel like a job, earning a degree is the primary reason to attend college. Word to the wise, if you stay with another athlete, remember this is not a night to go wild. Most likely the coach will hear about this night and you want to make sure you earn the coach’s respect (and not sabotage your reputation).
8. Join a Club Team
Coaches prefer to recruit from club teams, particularly for soccer and volleyball. Coaches attend club tournaments because many top athletes will also be in attendance. Join a team with a history and reputation of success. Research which colleges recruited past members. Ask the club coach if he has a rapport with any college coaches. A club team can be a big investment of time and money; you will want to make sure you join the right one for you.
If you are unsure whether college athletics is right for your child, check out Advantages to Being a College Athlete.
Photo Credits: Rhonda Burger Frix