As our recruiting coordinator for the last two years I’ve often had coaches, players, and parents ask me about the best way to get noticed and begin the recruiting process. The obvious answer is to be able to play – but assuming you have that part covered, here are 6 little things that can go a big way in attracting the attention of coaches.
- Research the school. This is number one because it’s something you should do BEFORE contacting the coaching staff. Learn about the school and what makes it unique. Read up on the academics and athletics so that you have questions to ask the coaches. Probably most importantly, check out the academic requirements and the majors offered. You don’t want to waste your own time applying to a school that offers nothing you have interest in studying for four years.
- Send a player profile. You can’t get recruited if we don’t know who you are. It’s really that simple. This doesn’t need to be a biography with parenthetical references, but include updated contact information, good times to call, a season schedule (if available), contact number for your coach, and an accurate estimate of grades/test scores.
- Game film > Highlights. I’ve never seen a kid miss a shot on a highlight film. Not once. And that’s a huge problem, because I miss out on a lot from that. How does he react in the moment? Does he get back defensively or yell at a teammate for a bad pass? During a time out is he paying attention to the coaches, or winking at his girlfriend in the 3rd row? Can he communicate defensively and make adjustments as the game goes on, or does the ½ court line zap his speed and energy? If you want an honest assessment of your game, you need to show a game, not a package of your best plays.
- Return phone calls and e-mails. Players get busy during the season. They have school, practice and games. They have a family and a social life to attend to. College coaches have all of those things too. Few things are as frustrating as having a recruit who says they will call back and doesn’t or ignores e-mails. You’ve put in the time to get noticed by the coaches, reap your rewards! If you’re not interested in a particular school, tell them. You won’t hurt their feelings – they’ll probably be thankful for your honesty so they don’t waste any more of their time and assets chasing a dead end.
- Visit in the fall. If a player has a sincere interest in a school and a desire to play there, a fall visit can be very important. It gives the student a chance to see campus, meet the team, and get a feel for what life might be like for the next 4 years. Contact the admissions or visit office of the school and set up an overnight visit where you can sit in on classes, meet with an admissions counselor, and stay with a member of the team. Players who come on visits will receive more attention because they have displayed a higher level of interest in the program.
- Complete applications ASAP. There are a number of reasons for this. One of the most beneficial to the student is that many times financial aid is on a first come-first serve basis. When the aid is gone, it’s gone. You don’t want to miss out on critical dollars, especially in the current economy. Some schools offer incentives for early application – ask about this on your visit. Another important reason is that applying early may help identify red flags while there is time to address them. If a student waits until the deadline to apply, then finds out they needed 20 more points on the SAT to get admitted or some extra academic aid, they are going to be kicking themselves. Getting the application in early allows you to make adjustments and alternative plans.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, all of these are proactive steps. They require the student to DO something, and that’s the point. Our job as recruiters is to motivate students to do these types of things and more. If you have a player who is interested in a school or schools but hasn’t yet caught the coach’s attention, start doing them on your own. They may earn themselves a second look and an opportunity to compete at the next level.
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