Disclaimer: When going through the recruiting process, I was trying to get recruited to play tennis at competitive Division III schools with exceptional academics. The process that I used by no means applies to every single sport, however I did my best to try to generalize my process as best I could. In addition to reading this article, I would also talk to athletes who compete in the same sport as you and who have gone through their recruiting process to be sure you don’t miss out on any sport-specific tips!
1. Do Your Research
Much like other students, you too will have to do your fair share of research on the school itself to decide whether you want to apply. Having the added bonus of being a scholar-athlete, we have to do a little extra digging. Check out the school team’s website and take notes on their standing/ranking, the coaches’ names and contact, how many people are on the team, and how many people are graduating the year before you will enter. Having all of this information under your belt will help you determine how good of a fit the school is for you, as well as prep you for meeting the coach or players.
2. Create a video showcasing your talents
In an ideal world, the coach for your ideal school would come all the way out to where you live and watch you showcase your talents. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. If you are an international student or just happen to live far from a school you’re considering, the best thing for you to do is put together a video. Typically it’s best to include short clips of various aspects of your skills followed by unedited game play. The short clips let the coach see your skills from a technical point of view, and the game play lets them see you in action and under-pressure. My tip for you is to leave the game play as unedited as you can–the more you change, the more the coach will think you’ve got something to hide.
3. Compile information to send to coaches
Typically, this information consists of an introductory document, tournament/game results, an unofficial transcript, test scores, a profile of your high school and a proposed academic schedule for your upcoming semester. The introductory document is the coach’s best way of getting to know you as a person and an athlete. Tournament/game results gives the coach an idea of how you perform compared to other athletes. If you’re applying to an academically excellent school, your transcript, test scores, high school profile, and proposed academic schedule allow the coach to gage how probable your admission to their school will be.
4. Contact the coach
Now that you’ve gotten yourself prepped, you’re ready to reach out to the coach! Locate their email on the team website and conduct an email expressing your interest in their program. Your email should include what grade you’re in, what high school you attend, and a couple of questions for the coach to express genuine interest in their school. Attached to the email you should include your compiled information as well as your video for the coach to watch after reading through your email. If you’re planning on visiting the school in the near future, feel free to add a line or two about when you plan on visiting and suggest the possibility of meeting up with the coach to learn more about their program. Often times, coaches enjoy taking prospective athletes on a tour of the school and sports centre to showcase their facilities. Take advantage of the tour if they offer it! You’ll get an inside look that many don’t get on standard campus tours!
5. For the seniors: arrange an overnight visit with the team
So you’ve met the coach, taken a campus tour, and have been told that with the scores you have, you would have a pretty good chance of getting in. Awesome! The only problem now is that you’ve had this very same experience with three different schools. So now what? The best, and fail-proof way of determining which school you want to apply to is through an overnight visit with the school team. This is exactly how it sounds: you arrive on campus, attend a couple of classes with some team members, watch the team practice (NCAA rules prohibit your joining in on practice) and sleep overnight (usually on the floor) in a team member’s dorm. Through this process, you learn how it is to be a student living on campus and attending classes–an experience you’ll never get just by visiting the deserted school over summer holiday!
Good luck guys! Trust me when I say this long, tiresome process is worth the family of a team you have in the end!