Shameless self-promotion? Think of it as creating a personal brand. Read on for advice about jump-starting your self-marketing campaign.
A letter is a great way to introduce yourself and show interest in a college program. High school athletes can send a letter to a coach at any time.
A well-written letter, detailing your abilities in the classroom and on the field, should be personalized with the coach's name, title and address—info that is easily attainable on the college or university's website. Be direct and keep it simple. If you choose to send a handwritten note, write neatly.
Proofread the letter for accuracy, spelling and grammar. Remember, it doesn't have to be formal, but avoid using slang and words and abbreviations used in text messages and social networking sites.
Send the letter early, ideally during your sophomore year. After the initial one, create a follow-up letter. Reintroduce yourself and restate your interest in the program. Provide your latest athletic and academic stats and scores from recently attended camps or combines.
For athletes looking to take their games to the next level, the off-season is prime time to attend combines and camps.
"[High school athletes] need to get their names out there. Get [your] weight, size, strength and speed evaluated," says Steve Spurrier, University of South Carolina head football coach. "This is a way to let coaches know what [you're] all about."
Many leading high school combines feature former pro players, coaches and performance experts dedicated to providing hands-on instruction. In addition to capturing the measurables of your physical make-up and testing your speed, power and agility, camp staff will offer tips and techniques for the forthcoming season.
Summertime is also camping season. If you want to showcase your talents for college coaches, look no further than the college camp circuit.
If you're serious about seeking a scholarship, attend camps early and often throughout your high school career. Treat any camp visit as a tryout. Compete aggressively during individual testing and one-on-one drills, hustle at all times and be attentive to coaches and staff. Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh did those things at the Nike Training Camp at Stanford University in 2004. The former no-name recruit received multiple scholarship offers within hours.
Create a Highlight Video
A highlight video helps attract attention from coaches, especially if you haven't been garnering much interest. Beware: coaches receive hundreds of highlight tapes, so it's important to keep the video brief yet attention-grabbing.
When filming a game, the shot should be nice and steady. Shoot from a distance, avoid the zoom-in feature and make sure the entire play is captured. Record everything: time between plays, interaction with coaches and team celebrations.
When creating your highlight reel, start with a name introduction followed by your school, position, height, weight and contact info. Then, cut to the highlights, limiting them to five minutes or less (most coaches make evaluations within the first minute).
Feature your best plays immediately, but include a variety of plays that display technical skills specific to your position. Teammate and coach interaction never hurts, either.
Identify yourself on screen in every play with a spot shadow, flash or arrow—all functions of entry-level video editing software such as iMovie and Windows Movie Maker. Simply freeze the shot before the play starts and mark yourself on screen. Proceed with the action until the play ends. For continuous play sports, pause the video to make the identification before the ensuing play.
Once the reel is packaged, contact your target schools and find out where and to whom the tape should be delivered. Inform the specified individual of the impending delivery and confirm it was received no more than two weeks later.
Post your highlight video to all of your athletic profiles to improve your odds of being viewed by coaches and other recruiters.
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