If you are reading this article, the chances are that you–or somebody you know or love–are participating in the college athletic recruiting process. Here are some important details to know:
- The college athletic recruiting process can begin at any age, but most people start it between their sophomore and junior years of high school.
- The college athletic recruiting process is a multi-step process with deadlines and automatic disqualifications along the way.
- College coaches do not have time to deal with unorganized or indecisive athletes who cannot meet deadlines or exercise self-control around others during the recruiting period. Make sure you know your own mind and your personal limits before you go into this, especially if you are 16 or 17 years old; if you lack organizational skills; or if you tend to be impulsive, unfiltered in what you say, or overly aggressive in dealing with others.
- The college recruiting process involves communication; make sure you are comfortable talking to coaches on the phone and via email before you begin. If you do not like hearing your voice recorded when you leave a message on an answering machine, let alone having other people listen to it, then don’t talk in front of strangers in general; if writing notes in study hall sends shivers up your spine, then you definitely should not be starting the college athletic recruiting process until after high school graduation (or maybe ever).
- To get recruited for any sport at any NCAA Division I or II colleges or university–or even many NAIA colleges–you need things: 1) at least one coach who has seen you perform; 2) the ability to play your sport at least at an average college level (i.e., among the top half of people in your sport’s age group); and 3) the basic skills necessary to communicate with coaches, manage deadlines, execute drills correctly, develop psychological toughness, keep up academically, etc.
- Your chances of getting recruited are better if you know someone on the coaching staff or among the athletic department staff who can help get you into that university’s program. If so, then take advantage of this opportunity–by all means, go work out with them and talk late into the night! But don’t forget about everything else listed above: to get noticed by other schools’ coaches, you need to be able to perform.
- The biggest recruiting mistake young athletes make is not playing enough sports and other activities that bring them pleasure while they are growing up, so they won’t lose their flexibility, creativity, personal interests, and friends while specializing in one sport. They also make the mistake of thinking college coaches can and will “solve” all their problems (academics, emotional issues like homesickness or divorce, health problems like an overuse injury) for them during the recruiting process. College coaches–and athletic departments who employ them–exist largely to win games; recruits should keep this in mind throughout the recruiting process and beyond it.