16 Tips for Being Recruited as a Student Athlete

At International College Counselors, parents frequently ask us how their student-athlete can get recruited by a college, and how their student-athlete can get noticed by the right coach. Standout, all-conference athletes at powerhouse high schools typically get noticed by scouts and coaches. However, that leaves thousands of outstanding athletes at smaller high schools being overlooked for one simple reason: the coaches didn’t know they were out there.

On top of this, 2020 threw these athletes a curveball: many high school athletic associations postponed or canceled games, tournaments, and entire seasons because of the pandemic, leaving many student-athletes worried over how they would be recruited without the traditional avenues for coaches to see them in action.

Have a sports drink and breathe. Some good news: the NCAA has announced that as of June 1, 2021, the restrictions placed on D1 coaches and prospective athletes were lifted, and all recruiting calendars returned to normal. D1 coaches are now able to resume meeting face-to-face with recruits off campus and do in-person scouting. Additionally, in-person recruiting restrictions have been lifted for all other levels, including NCAA D2 and D3, NAIA and NJCAA programs – meaning all forms of contact are allowed.

Whatever sport you participate in, from football to field hockey, or baseball to beach volleyball, student-athletes can do more to get themselves on a coach’s radar.  All you need is a game plan.

Below are some tips for student-athletes from International College Counselors:

  1. Talk to your high school or club coach about your chances of being recruited for college. They can be a valuable resource, from assessing your talent level to knowing college coaches to whom they might recommend you.
  2. Start early! Research the ins and outs of recruiting, regulations, colleges, coaches, and sports programs. Read the NCAA and NAIA Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete and watch www.freerecruitingwebinar.org. Know the separate rules for exactly how/when coaches can contact you and how/when you can contact coaches.
  3. Use the Internet. Visit college websites, YouTube, and social media pages to collect information about the different sports programs. Look for schools that fit your talents, athletically and academically.
  4. Don’t just focus on NCAA Division I sports. There are more than 1,800 colleges with athletic programs. The vast majority of college scholarship opportunities are at the Division II, NAIA, or Junior College level. Expand your search to give yourself a better opportunity.
  5. Attend college sports camps if you can, which are usually led by the colleges’ coaching staffs. You’ll also get a chance to enhance your skills at these camps.
  6. Join travel teams or clubs. At some events there can be hundreds of teams and thousands of athletes competing. Scouts prefer to go where the better players are. Additionally, it gives you a chance to really check out your competition. Keep in mind, you can’t rely on being ‘discovered’ at a camp or showcase.
  7. Contact coaches in desired programs and build relationships with them as early as possible within the recruiting guidelines. For example, send them a quick introductory email (see https://www.ncsasports.org/recruiting/contacting-college-coaches/email), a link to a highlight reel and/or your online athlete profile. If there’s an opportunity to meet a coach, introduce yourself with a quick rundown of your best achievements.
  8. If you do not already have one, create a sports video, or highlight reel, of you in action, and send it to programs of your choice during your junior year. (The best video is a combination game video and skills video.) Your video should be accompanied by an athletic “resume” highlighting your sports-related achievements. Include stats, win/loss record, awards, high school transcript, and information on SAT/ACT scores.
  9. Start a YouTube channel or website showcasing your talent.  There are dozens of easy-to-use, free website-building platforms and tools. Post videos of your achievements and scans of articles. (Don’t just post links; some papers disconnect the links after a period of time). Create a professional resume that highlights your athletic and academic achievements. Post it online and share it with any coaching contacts you already have.
  10. Get evaluated if you can. Attend showcase-style events where trusted third-party people oftentimes serve as the eyes and ears of the coaches who don’t have time to see every player.
  11. Keep up your academics. Get good grades, meet with your college counselor to make sure you are academically eligible, take the SAT or ACT in your junior year
  12. Maintain a positive attitude. Coaches are looking for players with key traits including leadership, toughness, intelligence, strong work ethic, and a team player. Coaches want to know that you have great habits, you won’t make excuses, and you won’t settle.
  13. Answer any requests from colleges immediately. If a coach or school is requesting more information, chances are they are seriously considering you. Ask your high school coach to complete any requests for information about you as soon as possible, as well.
  14. Register with the NCAA and NAIA Eligibility Centers to be cleared for athletic scholarships.
  15. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear from coaches. NCAA rules only permit them to contact student-athletes at certain times.
  16. Take care of your body. Continue working hard to get stronger, faster and fitter. Listen to your body, especially if you feel pain. Eat well. And whatever you do, don’t put harmful substances into it.

One last note, as the result of a NCAA policy from 2015, many colleges now provide scholarship athletes with a monthly stipend. NCAA athletes may receive as much as $5,000 to $7,000 for “full cost of attendance,” and may use this money towards transportation, supplies and other school-related expenses. College athletes are getting closer to getting paid for the use of their name, image and likeness, but that has not yet been approved.

By taking control of the process and being proactive, student-athletes can greatly increase their chances of getting recruited.

The expert educational consultants at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families from across the country and all over the world find, apply to, and gain admission to the college of their dreams. If you would like to learn how to successfully navigate the college admissions process, please contact our expert college advisors at [email protected] or call 954-414-9986.


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