As a student-athlete, I know firsthand how overwhelming the process of athletic recruitment can feel. Prior to playing in college, I played volleyball for almost ten years and attended a ton of recruiting seminars, and spoke with some college coaches myself.
Here are a few things I learned about athletic recruiting:
- Students have to reach out to the coaches directly. If parents reach out on behalf of their kids then coaches will automatically ignore the email and get the impression that the parents want it more than the student does.
- Coaches will look at grades, so get good grades first, especially if the student wants to play at a large Division 1 school.
- Athletes need to have their own highlight reel and make sure it’s recent. Coaches don’t want an old highlight reel from their freshman year while they are talking to the athlete as a junior or senior.
- Keep the highlight reel short. Coaches have a ton of things to do throughout the day so making the video about 2-3 minutes max should be enough to show off their skills.
- Respond in a timely manner! Coaches don’t want a player who responds late to their efforts to contact them. Play club in whatever sport you do or put in extra work outside of school season.
- Take advantage of camps and combines. In more popular sports like football and basketball, coaches, universities, and even some clubs host showcases where college coaches are invited to watch kids show off their skills.
- Club or AAU is going to be where college coaches do most of their recruiting because it alternates with their school seasons. AAU stands for Amateur Athletic Union, this is most popular in basketball and volleyball. There are also different types of clubs too, there's seasonal and year-round. Volleyball clubs are seasonal but they host clinics and small camps during the "offseason". Year-round can include baseball, softball, and swimming. Each club varies from region to region.
- The NCAA recruiting calendar is very important. Athletes need to take note of when quiet and dead periods are so they won't be confused when coaches don’t respond to their communication efforts.
- Use social media to get an advantage! Most programs have social media accounts and coaches and other recruiters monitoring potential athletes. Coaches also have social media accounts as well, posting videos and tagging them can earn you some extra attention.
Those are just some of the things I learned about the college recruiting process from an athlete’s perspective. My advice to parents is to just support your student’s choice no matter where they choose to go and just cheer them on during this process. It takes a lot of guts for them to put themselves out there. Be their biggest support system and try to be positive for them.