By Bryan Drotar
Are your athletes counting on you to help them find a college roster spot? As coaches, our athletes view us as experts. We may not know everything about the recruiting process, but we do have an obligation to give our athletes encouragement, and assistance if they want to compete in college.
You need to be able to offer them direction on getting started. Here are a few guidelines you should pass on to your athletes.
What Athletes Can Do
Tell your athletes to be proactive. The athletes willing to market themselves are the ones who will have the most opportunities. Share these seven easy-to-remember steps your athletes should take. Since a teenager will feel like you’re asking them to scale Mt. Everest, encourage them (and their parents) to take one step at a time.Tell athletes to be proactive: Those willing to market themselves will have the most opportunities. Click To Tweet
1. Research colleges. Athletes should come up with a list of 10 colleges that have the athletic programs that interest them. This list will change over time, but it will help them get started. They should research the academics, athletic program, area, etc. and make sure each school is a place that would interest them even if they were no longer on the team.
2. Contact coaches. They should call and email each coach to introduce themselves and make the coach aware of their interest. If the coach responds, they should send follow-up emails and phone calls regularly.
“When a high school athlete takes the time to send an email with their contact information, personal best marks, academic information, etc. it means they are serious about considering Duke as a potential university.” Rhonda Riley, Duke University Cross Country Coach.
3. Fill out the questionnaire on the team’s home page. This will get the athlete into the database of both the coach and the admissions department.
“If an athlete knows they are interested in our college, they should reach out to someone on our coaching staff or complete a recruit questionnaire.” Scott Bahrke, Northwestern College Cross Country and Track & Field Coach
4. Prepare a video highlight film. Athletes should post the film on YouTube and send a link to each coach they are in contact with.
- Highlight starts and show complete races.
- Jumpers and throwers should make sure their technique is clear and visible.
- Be as close to the event as possible so there is an unobstructed view.
5. Keep college coaches updated. Athletes should let college coaches known when they will be competing.
6. Send stats. Keep track of the athlete’s stats and the event(s) they were in, and have them send the information to college coaches. The place the athlete finished is not that important.
“We are in a very objective sport where the initial 90+% of recruit filtering takes place by simply using their marks/performances.” Bob Braman, Florida State University Track & Field Coach
7. Attend camps. Athletes should go to university camps and summer camps where coaches from the schools that they are interested in will be working. These are advertised on the program’s web page. They will see a link or a banner to click on.
What Coaches Can Do
One of the most important things you can do is give your athletes honest guidance about the collegiate level at which they can be successful. Some coaches will only recommend Division 1 or 2 programs, but there can be excellent coaching and competition at every level. The continuum is NCAA D1, D2, D3, NAIA, and NJCAA (JUCOs). Give them several options to look at based on their talent, work ethic, and academic level. If you don’t know, don’t make it up. Ask another coach for their opinion.Give your athletes honest guidance about the collegiate level at which they can be successful. Click To Tweet
You can also assist athletes in getting film. Good quality is the key to good film. It doesn’t have to be expensive: You can use your tablet or phone. Try to use a tripod if you can. If you don’t have the resources to film your athletes, ask the parents and see who has the skill and equipment to get it done for you.
Finally, contact college coaches for your athlete. Coaches at Division 1 and Division 2 have strict guidelines governing them when they contact athletes. The club or high school coach is often the intermediary for communication. It is your job to provide a reference for the athlete and relay information from the college coach to the athlete. This is how athletes can verbally commit to a school before a college coach is allowed to call them.
Remember: Your reputation is on the line each time you speak with a coach. Your honesty and integrity about an athlete will impact whether a college coach uses you or your athletes in the future.
“A student athlete that has interest in a particular school should have his or her coach contact the school.” Gary Pepin, University of Nebraska Track & Field Coach
Help Position Athletes for Future Success
As coaches, our job doesn’t stop at the finish line; our goal isn’t to see an athlete win the next meet. Our goal should be to help an athlete transition their hard work and talent into future successes. For many athletes, the next prize for which they are competing is a college roster spot. They need to earn that prize, but coaches can help.A coach’s goal is to help an athlete transition their hard work and talent into future successes. Click To Tweet
Jeff Jenkins, Piedmont College cross country and track & field coach, lists three common mistakes that student-athletes make during the recruiting process:
- They wait too late to begin.
- They make premature, uninformed decisions.
- They don’t communicate effectively.
Your goal is to coach an athlete’s recruiting mindset. Teach, educate, and guide them through the process. Coach toward the best version of their future.