I’ve put together some thoughts about the college recruitment process for athletes. I feel that it is important to keep the following five concepts in mind when you are building relationships with your prospective college coaches. I hope the following creates some value for you and helps you realize your potential as a student-athlete at the next stage of your journey.
I have learned a great deal during my time as a high school rowing coach. In addition, I am privileged to have learned from my colleagues Kevin Harris and Christy Utter who are accomplished Division 1 coaches in rowing and field hockey, respectively.
One of the most important things about college recruitment is your academics. It’s no good wanting to go to a highly ranked university or college, if you can’t balance your academics with your athletics. Coaches want to know that you are a good bet and they can rely on you to take care of business and can manage your time. If you are thinking about applying for a Division I school, you can expect a 20-hour training load per week. You might have the best times in the recruitment pool, but if you are going to fail out of school, then you are not going to be a good long-term investment for a college coach.
Also, when you are picking a school to attend, make sure that it is a good academic fit for you. You might be offered a full ride to one school, however, if it doesn’t have the academic degree you are really looking for, you are setting yourself up for a bad situation. Additionally, if you get injured, or something happens along your college journey, you are still going to be at a school that is not a good fit, academically speaking.
In my experience, as much as I enjoyed rowing in college, it was ultimately the academics that I enjoyed more. I’m pleased to say that my degree in education continues to serve me well even at this point in my career.
My advice is to play the long game.
Let me start this section by saying that it is vital to your recruitment process that you are the one doing the communication and NOT your parent or guardian. Ultimately, your future college coach is not going to coach your parents; they are going to be working with you.
Therefore, you need to take ownership of your recruitment process. You are going to find many situations in life where you are ultimately going to have to communicate your value to others. This skill and aptitude is an essential part of growing up and also critical to your future.
Another vital part of the recruitment process is the manner in which you communicate. You can either create a good impression or a bad impression. It is always an excellent strategy to over-communicate with the coaches that you are working with.
If you are filling out online recruitment forms, make sure that your training benchmarks are true and NOT the benchmarks that wish you had achieved. In the eventuality that a college coach is interested in recruiting you, they will have some form of communication with your present coach. This communication is an essential part of the college recruitment process. If your reported scores don’t match up with the numbers in your program log, not only are you lying (which demonstrates lack of integrity), but your chances of recruitment drop significantly and quite possibly to nil.
When it comes to sending emails to coaches, I have some advice. BE CAREFUL HOW YOU CUT AND PASTE. I get that time is a precious commodity. However, if you don’t take care to cut, paste and edit your emails appropriately, that’s going to land you in trouble as well.
Finally, do your best to arrange a visit to meet the coach you are being recruited by. This scheduling goes a long way and demonstrates initiative on your part.
First and foremost, college coaches that are doing their homework (most do) will be checking out your digital footprint. Therefore, be very careful about what you post on social media platforms. There have been many athletes that lost their athletic scholarships because they didn’t think before they posted online. I believe that this point has been well documented by other college recruitment resources so I won’t labor the point here.
I do recommend working hard to provide yourself with a positive digital footprint. For example, it’s a good idea to post footage of yourself scoring a goal. If you are a rower, then show a few seconds of footage with you moving the boat well.
If you haven’t figured out how to put your best foot forward on social media, then do your best to be uplifting to others. Complaining in a public forum about your coach or how it was unfair that you lost your last game or race, isn’t going to get you very far at all.
The first thing to remember concerning leaving a good legacy is that coaches from different programs talk to each other. All the time. It’s a small world. Therefore, if you are thinking about doing something ill-advised when you are on a recruiting visit, please think again. Word spreads fast in the collegiate athletic world, so it would be wise to bear that in mind. Not to mention that you should be making good decisions anyway.
Secondly, you have a responsibility to represent your present program well. You should consider yourself an ambassador for your program. The manner in which you conduct yourself will reflect either positively or negatively on your present team. It isn’t all about you in this recruitment process. You need to represent your program well and allow others the chance to follow in your footsteps. Some coaches will stop recruiting from specific programs if their experience with a particular student-athlete is not favorable.
Bottom line, represent your program to the best of your ability.
Your present coaches opinion of you will be formed from thousands of interactions. At some point, your coach will be asked to provide a reference for you, either in a letter, phone call or personal meeting with a recruiting coach. This opinion is a helpful part of your recruitment process. It’s is never just about your erg score or your 40-yard dash or the number of goals you have scored.
You must strive to be a positive influence on your present team. Always be looking for ways to support those around you and be a team player.
Be the best athlete FOR your team NOT the best athlete in your team.
I hope I have provided food for thought as your journey through your high school athletics progresses. I wish you the best of luck with your season and recruitment efforts. If I can be of assistance in your training, please do let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find out more about my personal training programs and coaching by visiting this link.