True or False: “I’m the best player on my team; college coaches will easily find and recruit me.” Did you answer “true” or “false”? How about this statement, “Division I programs are far superior than Division II and III programs.” If you found yourself answering “true” to either of these statements then you might want to further your research before you begin your college recruiting process. However, if you did answer “true” know that you are not alone in your thinking. Many of the student-athletes and parents we work with along the recruiting journey share these common misconceptions and many more. Today we will break down some of those misconceptions to help you better understand college recruiting. Club Teams
Timing and Grades Matter, Greatly
Thinking things like “I don’t have to worry or focus on the recruiting process until my senior year of High School,” or “Grades don’t really matter if you’re a good enough player,” could easily cause you to miss pursing your sport in college altogether with. The very biggest mistake you can make is waiting too long to start the recruiting process. Ideally, you should start thinking about and researching colleges your freshman and sophomore years. From there, junior and senior years should be dedicated to making connections with the college coaches and attending showcases and camps. And although it’s true that top talent tends to be more actively recruited, coaches want to invest in athletes that will enhance their athletic program while also upholding the academic integrity of their school. You may be “eligible” to be recruited by a specific college, but unless you can prove that you are also a dedicated student, you may not be an attractive candidate to the school itself.
Putting in the Work
If you answered “true” to the statement “I’m the best player on my team; college coaches will easily find and recruit me,” you’ll want to focus on our next words… On any given weekend during recruiting season, college coaches see 300-400 players. How good of an athlete you are can only take you so far. Keep in mind that there are thousands of other talented athletes looking to pursue athletics in college so it is easy to be overlooked – simply stated it is incredibly unlikely that you will be “stumbled upon” by a college coach. You must put in the work. Sending coaches emails, letters, and sharing stats and highlight videos is the very best way to get your name out there to college coaches. It is much easier and more likely for coaches to evaluate you when they know of you ahead of time. Also to keep in mind, yes, there are NCAA rules regarding recruiting and college coach contact, however if you are truly doing your homework you should be aware of what these specific rules are, and these rules (as long as you are not breaking them) should not deter you from reaching out to college coaches.
Be Smart, Be Strategic
This one should be a no-brainer but to many student-athletes (and parents) it’s not as obvious as you may think… First things first, yes, it is nice when parents are involved in the recruiting process, but a parent that acts as your Parent-Agent is a red flag for coaches, and signals that the student-athlete is either not serious or not mature enough to handle the demands of the recruiting process and further, playing a sport in college. College coaches want to hear from the student-athlete. They want to ensure that the individual being recruited is well spoken, mature, intelligent and enthusiastic. Similarly, your current coaches will not be the ones to get you recruited. Although they can provide help and act as a reference, it is your job to market yourself and take the necessary steps to be recruited.
As an athlete, you use strategy every day on the field, so why wouldn’t you use it while you are going through the recruiting process? Often players will contact coaches about attending their school while knowing nothing about the team, the players, the coach, or the style of play. Be strategic – research the team’s current players and player positions…it might not make sense to avidly pursue a school that already has three sophomores that play the same position as you. On the flip side, if a team has two seniors who play the same position that you do that coach and team will likely be on the lookout for student athletes to fill those spots on the team. The game of strategy is strong here.
And the most misunderstood of them all: Divisions and Scholarships
It is the truth that 8 out of 10 players (and parents, too) believe that Division I programs are superior to Division II and III programs, and that the only real way to get a scholarship is to play in Division I. This thinking could not be any more incorrect. First, lets break down the differences in divisions. Division I schools, having more money because of the sheer size of the program, are simply more visible. There are plenty of Division II and Division III schools whose programs are much smaller in terms of money, but that remain very competitive. Actually, it is a fact that top D II and D III teams are easily capable of playing head-to-head with the best D I schools.
While only Division I and Division II NCAA schools offer athletic scholarships, it is highly unlikely to receive a full ride on an athletic scholarship. By offering partial scholarships, this allows schools and coaches the opportunity to distribute their scholarship money among many players. You should approach the economic aspects of college from every direction, not only athletically. Always remember that D I, D II, and D III schools all have money available based on academic scholarship, reward based, grants, and financial aid. There are various opportunities in college for scholarships but you have to do your research, these scholarships will not find you, you need to find them. Know that each school has a different approach to scholarships; it is up to the coach to allocate the scholarship money. A situation you find with one school will likely be different from a situation with another school. Another thing to note is that some coaches may choose to increase individual player scholarships year-by-year, based on performance. Lastly, schools will often work with coaches to provide a package for a student-athlete, whom they believe will be a positive addition to their team and school on a whole.
If you have any questions about the Athletic Recruiting Process, please feel free to contact us.