College Athletic Recruiting Checklist | KTA Recruiting
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Recruiting Checklist

The recruiting process can be an exciting time in your life, but it’s also very important to be knowledgeable and prepared. Walking into your recruitment without doing much research is like going into a used car lot. In both cases you get may sold something, but it might not be your best fit. Here is a checklist we’ve put together highlighting the most important things you’ll need to do to maximize your recruiting potential.

1) Your Academics are the surest way to get a Scholarship

Male athlete going to school.If you are still in high school or currently in college, keeping your grades up must be one of your biggest priorities. This is important not just for the sake of sports, but for your own personal growth of knowledge and ability. When it comes to sports, nothing is worse for a coach than finding the perfect player, recruiting them for months, and later discovering that player's grades just won’t cut it. This happens especially at the Division III level, but can also be important at the higher divisions. For both the NCAA and NAIA there are specific academic criteria that must be met.

2) Continue training, be the best athlete you can be

You must strive to constantly improve and prepare your body for the rigors of college sports. No matter who you are, there is always going to be someone bigger, faster, and stronger. Take this as a challenge, and remember that you won’t get there overnight. Make strides everyday and avoid the substances and situations that will cause you issues.

3) Make a list of your priorities for a college

Female volleyball player striking ball in the air.This is very important. As you go through the recruiting process, you’ll have people pulling you in many directions no matter what level of athlete you are. Your parents may want you to go to his/her alma mater. Your coach might think you should take that partial Division II scholarship out of state. Your friends want you to go where they’re planning to go. In addition, every college coach who calls claims to be your best fit. College coaches are paid to get you to get you to sign, not help you figure out what the best school is for you specifically. How do you figure it out?

The key is look deep and figure out your own priorities ahead of time, write them down in an ordered list, and constantly remind yourself of what you think is important. Do your best not to lose sight of this. Your college selection is YOUR decision, and for many athletes it’s one of the first big decisions in that athlete's life. Here are some things to consider putting on your list:

  • Early Play Time
  • Academic reputation
  • How much the coach wants me
  • Quality of the athletic facilities
  • Quality of the campus
  • Close to home
  • Cost of the school
  • Relationship with my position coach
  • Overall culture of the students on campus
  • History of the program
  • Fan support
  • Will I be able to play the position I want to?
  • Will I be redshirted or even asked to grey shirt?
  • Do they have the major I want?
  • Location of the school (In the city, or a small college town)
  • Will they help me reach the next level?
  • Projected competitiveness over the next four years
  • Division level

Make sure you order the items by their importance to you, and maybe there are more items you’d like to rank as well. Recruiting can be a fun process, but it’s just like buying a car. Understand that coaches are trying to sell you on his/her school and they probably got the job because they’re good at it. They’ll try to emphasize the best parts about the school and convince you that these are the most important things. The truth is that every school has strengths and weaknesses, and you want to find one with lots of strengths that match your higher priorities.

4) Create your highlight video

For some sports (like track or cross country) a highlight video is less important, but for nearly all it is a the key feature a coach wants to see. There are many video services and high priced recruiting services out there who want hundreds of dollars to put together your highlights. Instead, talk to your coach and explain that you’d like to play in college and need to make a highlight video. Odds are that they have plenty of experience and can quickly get you all the film you need. Some schools use Hudl, which is a great way to rapidly select your best plays/moments. If your school doesn’t use Hudl, you could take all your film to your school’s Audio/Visual Department and ask if you could use their equipment for the project. Even many modern personal computers come pre-packaged with the software needed to upload the film, cut the clips you want, and load them into a finished product.
When selecting clips for your video, make sure to follow a few tips:

  • Obviously, select only your best moments that emphasize your athleticism. You want it to be at least 10 clips, but if you have more after that it’s ok, just as long as they are of the same high quality.
  • Avoid using offensive music. Remember that college coaches aren’t looking for a good jam in the office, they just want to see what you can do.
  • Put your best plays first. Coaches will most likely form their opinion of what they think your abilities are after the first few plays.
  • Give them variety. Show them that you have multiple talents. For example, if you’re a runningback, make sure to provide clips of you hitting different types of runs, making catches, pass protection/blocking, highlights from special teams, and good plays from your defensive position if applicable. What you don’t want is a coach to think, “This guy has 13 great highlights of him running jailbreak screens and that’s it. Guess he's never done much else.”

5) Maintain contact with coaches

Female soccer player heading ball.You’ll start to build a list of coaches who’ve emailed, called, or sent you a letter. Congratulations, you’re part of a very select group of athletes who coaches consider talented enough to warrant recruiting. However, understand that those coaches will be talking to hundreds of athletes just like you. If a coach reaches out to you and you like the school make sure you keep in regular contact. Let them know you’re interested and they’re high on your list. Call them, text them, email them. Coaches are bound by certain restrictions on when they can and can’t call, and the NCAA changes limits on texting, but these aren’t your concerns. You can always contact the coaches and they’ll usually be happy to get a call from one of his/her recruits.

6) Go on visits

As you narrow down your search, you’ll find that coaches want you to come take visits. It’s important for them because it’s a step closer toward getting you comfortable with the school and showing off all the strengths of the program. There are two kinds of visits: official and unofficial. An official visit allows the school to pay for many things and take care of you for a short time. An unofficial visit is all on your dime, but they can still talk to you and show you everything they have to offer.

Ideally, you’ll want to take many visits to the school and know exactly what you’ll be getting. However, if you live far away this can be a problem. Make sure you make the most out of your trips to campus. You’ll want to try and do many things on your visit if possible:

See a game/meet/match

This is the absolute best way to see how the coaches and players are in action. If the coach and players are fighting on the bench and it’s turmoil in the locker room you might take that under consideration. This is a great chance to see how the fans are, what the competition feels like, and if you can picture yourself on the field/court. If seeing a performance isn’t possible, at least try to see a practice.

Talk to the coaches in person

After many phone calls and emails, it’s good to sit with your possible future coaches and see them as human beings. Are they good to be around? Do they seem like the kind of people who will motivate you and make you better?

See the facilities

Where will you be working out? How is the indoor facility? What kind of locker room is it? Have the coaches show you everything.

Take a walk around campus

You’ll want to see the campus and check out the quality of the dorms, classrooms, and dining areas. You will also want to see what the student body culture is like.

Hang out with the players

Try to meet as many as you can. You're going to be spending a great deal of time with these people so make sure you they’re the kind of folks you like. Often, they will want to take you out on campus or out for a meal. Remember that they’ve been instructed by their coach to give you a good experience, so don’t feel pressured to do anything you aren’t comfortable with. You’re in the driver’s seat.

7) Making your decision

Male basketball player with ball.Don’t be afraid to tell coaches the truth. They won’t be offended if you’re talking to other coaches. Talk to them about what your decision making process is, what your priorities are, and exactly what you want out of school.

When you feel comfortable eliminating a school from consideration make sure you at least email the coach who was recruiting you to let him/her know of your decision. Be polite and to the point, and you don’t have to say why if you don’t want to. If you provide your reasoning, keep it brief. Wish them luck in the upcoming season.

Before making your final decision you’ll want to know exactly what you’re signing up for. You’ll want the exact financial figures in front of you. When dealing with Athletic Scholarships, Academic Scholarships, and Financial Aid make sure you and your folks completely understand the numbers and ask the coach recruiting you if you have any questions.

When you come to the end of your college search, remember that you’re making a lifetime decision, not just one for four years.