The college recruiting process can be daunting. There’s no proven formula that assures you are matched with your dream school and team. Every school, team, and individual have different interests and needs that will make each recruiting process unique. However, there are a few things that every college-bound student-athlete can do to ease the process and feel more comfortable about such an important life decision.
The Essentials To Recruitment
The basics are always true. First: play hard and train harder. College coaches are looking for talented individuals to bolster their teams. Technical, tactical, physical and psychological attributes are very important to increasing your standing in the minds of college coaches. Playing in college showcases is a great way to put your talent on display for potential coaches. It's true that talent will get you far, but the most important element to recruitment is maintaining good grades in high school. Finding the perfect coach and team won't matter unless you have the grades to get accepted to the school. Always remember the importance of "student" in the term student-athlete.
Do Your Research
There are a few things you can do above and beyond simply working hard and being a good student. The first piece of advice is: do your homework. I’m not talking about your math homework (do that, too), but do your best to figure out what YOU want out of college. What division do you want to play? What do you want to study? How far from home do you want to be? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before you start your search for the perfect school. If you know you want to study business in Boston and play Division III, this information can help narrow down the search significantly. And don’t stop there – find schools that fit your criteria and research them. Learn about their academic programs and about the team and coach. Find out which aspects of the school you like and dislike to aid in your decision-making.
Reach Out To Coaches
Once you've compiled a list of schools that fit your criteria, you’re ready for the next step: reach out. College coaches recruit all year and watch hundreds of players during high school and club seasons. They do their best to find out which players may be potentially interested in joining their program, but coaches also love to hear from recruits. Send them an email or give them a call and express your interest in their school and program. Send in a highlight video, or your upcoming season schedule and ask them to come watch you play. College coaches work tirelessly to find players that fit their team's needs – it makes it much easier when a player reaches out to them!
College coaches are human, too! Don’t be afraid to reach out and express your interest. By doing so, you can also get a feel for the coach’s interest in you as a potential recruit when they reply. They may tell you that their recruiting class for next year is already full, or that they welcome you to try out in the fall, or that they are happy you called and can’t wait to watch you play. Don’t be afraid of rejection or bad news. This is the time to really get to know these schools, teams and coaches; so if one doesn’t fit, that’s okay! It just wasn’t the right spot for you.
Visit The School
Finally, after you research schools and reach out to their coaches: visit the school. Go watch a match in the fall, stay for an overnight, eat in the cafeteria, sit in on a class, meet the coach in person and hang out with the players for a day. Live a day on campus and experience what it’s like to be a student at that school. Talk to current players and other students on campus about the school, and form your own opinion. This is a place where you could be spending the next four years of your life, so you want to make sure you have as much information as possible before you make a decision.
Remember: don’t stop training and working hard. Have the right attitude and always try your best when you’re on the field and in the classroom. The college recruitment process is about what you want, not what coaches want. Take the time to really think about what you want out of your education and you will make the right decision.
Images courtesy of Nike Soccer.