Game On: How to be Recruited as a Student-Athlete

Thinking about college sports recruitment.

How Does College Sports Recruitment Work?

Being recruited to a college as a student-athlete is no easy feat. However, hopeful students interested in college sports recruitment can be proactive and take certain steps increase to their chances. Thousands of athletes are overlooked simply because coaches didn’t know they were out there. Whatever your sport, below are some tips from International College Counselors for student-athletes on maximizing your recruiting potential:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the recruiting process. Start by reading the NCAA and NAIA Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete and visiting freerecruitingwebinar.org. Learn the rules for communicating with college coaches. There are specific parameters for exactly how and when coaches can contact a student and how and when a student can contact coaches. Visit college websites, YouTube, and social media pages to collect information about the different athletic programs. Students should look for schools that fit their talents,  athletically and academically.
  2. Contact coaches directly when appropriate. Check regulations at the above websites first, but know that it’s important to build relationships with coaches in desired programs as early as allowed. When permitted, students can send them a quick introductory email (see https://www.ncsasports.org/recruiting/contacting-college-coaches/email).
  3. Parents: talk to your student’s coach. Club and/or high school coaches will give students and their parents the best idea of their chances of being recruited as a student-athlete for college. Coaches are a valuable resource, as they can assess talent level and may know college coaches to whom they might recommend a student.
  4. Register online. Sign up with the NCAA and NAIA Eligibility Centers to be cleared for athletic scholarships.
  5. Respond to requests from colleges ASAP. If a coach or school is requesting more information, make sure you provide it in a timely manner. Chances are they are asking because they are seriously considering you for college sports recruitment. Also, make sure your high school coach completes any requests for information about you as soon as possible.
  6. Don’t focus only on Division I. Student-athletes who are eager to compete in college should not overlook Division II and Division III schools. There are more than 1,800 colleges with athletic programs—the right one is out there. Expanding your search may give you a better opportunity, as many scholarship opportunities are also available at the Division II, NAIA, or junior college level.
  7. Early in high school, start signing up for sports camps or showcases. Typically held during the summer, these camps are often led and attended by college coaching staff, which will get you playing time in front of the right people. This is also a chance to enhance skills and gain insight into what the coaches are looking for in their athletes.
  8. Join travel and club teams and get evaluated. Joining an outside league or club team will allow students to hone their skills and attend showcase-style events. However, don’t rely on being “discovered” at one of these events, as there are often dozens of teams and hundreds of athletes competing. Take the opportunity to check out the competition.
  9. Create a sports video or highlight reel, and post it to YouTube and/or a personal website. If you don’t already have one, you should compile your athletic “portfolio,” which should include footage of prime playing time. Plan to share these video highlights during junior year. Include with the video an athletic “resume” highlighting sports-related achievements. These materials should also be posted online and shared with any coaching contacts you already have.
  10. Maintain your academics and keep a positive attitude. Students must keep their grades up. Colleges want to see that, in addition to being a talented player, athletes are serious and capable students. Coaches also want athletes who display positive character traits such as leadership, tenacity, teachability, and a good attitude.
  11. Take care of your body. Students should continue pushing themselves physically, but also listen to their bodies to avoid injury. Make sure to eat well and get enough sleep so your body has time to recover.

A final note: Legislation was passed in the summer of 2021 that enables D1 student athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image, and likeness. Additionally, as the result of a 2015 NCAA policy, many colleges also provide scholarship athletes with a monthly stipend to cover school-related expenses.

With talent, hard work, luck, and a proactive approach, 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.