When I worked with athletes hoping to receive athletic scholarships, I often heard the question, "What's the best way to be recruited and earn an athletic scholarship?"
There is no easy answer. College recruiting is a long and extremely competitive process that varies from sport to sport.
Still, there are some overarching guidelines that any athlete can benefit from—and some widespread beliefs about the process that every athlete needs to understand as myths.
Myth 1: College Coaches Will Come Calling
It's up to you to get coaches' attention. The old adage, "If you're good enough, they'll find you" no longer applies. College coaches don't have time to turn over every rock. They're busy coaching their teams, handling administrative duties and recruiting players from all over the world.
Take it upon yourself to handle your recruiting. Send out your highlight tape, initiate contact with coaches and be realistic about your talent level.
Your parents and high school coaches can help you along the way, but you have to put in the work. You're the one shooting for a scholarship. If you're not marketing yourself to coaches, other players are marketing themselves.
Myth 2: Recruiters Will Always Be at Your Big Games
Recruiters can't be everywhere, so a highlight tape is essential. Here are a few things to remember when you put your tape together:
- Find the plays that make you look good. It doesn't always have to be about scoring, either. Show all of your talents.
- Don't overproduce. Spot-shadowing yourself is fine, but don't worry about slowing down the highlight or rewinding it back. If coaches like what they see they'll watch again. Also, keep music out of it. Coaches don't want a soundtrack.
- Keep it brief. The best highlight tapes last a few minutes. Coaches don't need, or want, a 10-minute tape. Pick 20 to 25 of your best plays and keep it short.
Myth 3: Only Visit the Schools On Your A-List
Check the NCAA guidelines for your sport's limits on "official" and "unofficial" visits. That said, visiting more schools allows you to interact with more coaches—and, more importantly, determine whether the school is a good fit. You may also land on the radar of coaches who might not have noticed you before.
Myth 4: Grades Don't Matter for Athletes
Anytime I write about recruiting, I always mention the importance of a high GPA. Grades are as important as talent on the field. If you can't keep your grades up, coaches won't waste their time on you. For starters, your low GPA may make you ineligible to receive a scholarship—and even if you do meet the rock-bottom requirements, no coach wants to take the time to babysit a lazy student. If you need it, get extra help from teachers or tutors.
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