College is a universal concept for all high school athletes trying to make it to the next level, but the process is unique for every athlete going through it.
The lucky few get to get flown out to campuses, have some of the biggest D-1 football coaches stop them as they walk off the field, and create a sweet hype video when they finally decided where they’ll lace up the cleats next fall.
But for most of us, it’s a grind.
Busting it in the gym, staying late after practice, going to combines, combing through film to find the best content from last season, and calling every coach from Alabama to Middle Prairie A&M University – Upstate Campus.
No matter the journey, we’re here to get you to the next level. Because of that, we put together the top 10 tips that can give your recruiting process the boost it needs to finally get you noticed.
1.Get started early
There’s a temptation to wait until you’ve got good film playing at the varsity level to start the recruiting process. You’re just hurting yourself there. Competition is an important part of getting recruited, but at the end of the day, the coaches are recruiting you and your talents. So start small; you might be playing JV or even Freshman, but if you’re posting good numbers, you can send film to some smaller programs and ramp up as the competition ramps up too. Having options to choose from is a major key in the decision process. If you wait until senior year, you’ll be asking for the coach’s time, they won’t be asking for yours.
2. Make a list
Like we said before, starting early is important, but knowing what you want is even more important. Think about your life on and off the field. Do you want to live close to home? Do you have something special you want to major in? What type of on-field scheme does your playing style fit into? Ask yourself the tough questions, even if it means coming to grips with reality. You’ll thank yourself when you come up with a list of about 25 schools across all levels. This is your starting point. Other coaches will hear about you and see what you’ve done on the field if you’re making a splash, but these 25 should be your core. Start hitting them early and hitting them often.
3. Make things personal
Setting up an account on a platform will make it easy for you to send that page to coaches, but just setting it up and expecting the views to start rolling in won’t do a thing. Coaches have lives just like the rest of us, so they won’t happen across your profile on a Sunday night. Get yourself in front of them. Identify people in the recruitment decision-making process by going to the team’s website. See which coaches have an email address or a phone number that’s open to the public and introduce yourself.
4. Lean on your support system
You probably already know, but there’s a place right near the front office called the Guidance Counselors Office. They get paid to help you figure out what school you want to go to. They know who to talk to about what kinds of grades you need, who to talk to about scholarships, and guess what – you’re probably not the first person to go there to play a sport! They may even have a connection with the athletic department. The same thing goes for your coaches. It’s in their best interest to send you to the best college that fits you as a player. Who else gets an outside perspective of your playing style every day of the week during the season? They’ll know if you’re an Air Raid quarterback or a Middle Relief pitcher vs. a Closer. Don’t forget about your parents either. They may not have the network built out to get you in front of the right people, but they’ve got a ton of life experience and can lead you emotionally in the right direction.
5. Student comes before Athlete for a reason
We’ve all seen the commercials…”There are 480,000 NCAA Athletes. Most of us will go pro in something other than sports.” It’s true, the main goal of every athletic program is to win a championship, but there’s something else you don’t think about when you’re watching games on TV. A lot of players end up working in the real world after college. Coaches want to make sure that you’re going to be successful on and off of the field. They’ll take a 3.5-star recruit that they’ll never have to worry about over a 4-star recruit that dodges class and misses study hall. Show them that you can make your GPA just as good or better than your recruiting rating. Show them that you’re ready to learn every day – in the classroom and the film room.
6. Find extra scholarships that match YOU
College programs have a set amount of athletic scholarships they can issue every year (some have none). If you can find a local or collegiate scholarship that can help pay for your college education, that’s more scholarship dollars that can go to helping build a successful program around you. Don’t rely on the program to support you. Show the program that you’re in control of your life and that you take initiative. Don’t be afraid to brag about that either. If a coach knows that he can get an elite athlete without losing a scholarship roster spot, but better believe your name will fly up that list.
7. Don’t rely on your natural abilities
You might be naturally fast or benched 225 on your first go from mowing lawns all of your life, but you better believe that at the next level there will always be someone bigger, stronger, and faster. The players were selected after a long process exactly like you’re about to go through.They may have been on a level playing field with you when they came out of college, but they’ve got a minimum of 1 year of specialized strength, conditioning, and skill training on you. These athletes eat, sleep, and breathe their sport. Being naturally gifted just doesn’t work when you hit the collegiate level. Champions aren’t born – they work their hardest every single day to find someone that’s better than they are to challenge their title.
8. Don’t be afraid
One thing you’ll hear from any athlete that didn’t get to the next level is “If I had just done this…” They aren’t wrong. Something that so many people lack is execution. It’s hard to hear, but we’re here to give you the tools to succeed, not stroke your ego. Take the risk. Email ALL of the programs you dreamed of playing at when you were a kid. Just because a school took home hardware and has a stacked roster coming back, doesn’t mean they aren’t always looking for that next playmaker. They’re also looking for role players. Every program has a need every single year – that’s the beauty of college athletics. Turn over every stone and you might just be surprised with what you find.
9. Don’t be married to a position
You might think you’re the best quarterback in your district or you might think you’re the ace with the best velocity off of the mound. That’s great! Confidence is the absolute key to being successful. Here’s the thing, college coaches have seen every single type of player come across their desk. When they see your tape for the first time, they may totally agree with you, but they also might have different ideas in mind. Saying “No” is your biggest enemy in the recruiting process. Listen to every idea, think about them, and be open to them. Coaches may think about your playing style in a way you’ve never seen because you’re so close to it. Plus, that could be the coach’s first test to see whether you’re coachable.
10. Find a Trainer Who’s Been There Before
Hearing about the process from your guidance counselor, coaches, parents, and friends is great. These people are here to support you, but it’s either been years since they’ve done it or they’ve actually never been in your shoes before. That’s why you need to find someone who’s been through the recruiting process recently. Maybe ask Coach if there are any ex-college players in the area, or check your local gym. Obviously, we are biased, but training with one of the stars at your favorite University would be the best option (hint: You Can Find one on the Athletes Guide Platform.)
No matter what you’re going through or which step you’re at in the process, we are here to help! Book a training session with one of the college athletes on Athletes Guide today, or give us a call if we can help with anything else!