Criticisms for Early Recruiting Missing the Mark

early recruiting in collegeThere are over 270 comments and climbing on a recent New York Times article chronicling the increased number of early commits made by college recruits. People are upset at the idea that families and recruits are being asked (some say forced) into deciding on a sport and college in the 8th and 9th grade. The majority of the criticism is aimed at the NCAA, college and club team coaches. People are frustrated at “the recruiting system” that is taking advantage of young girls and families.

Rule changes handed down by the NCAA aren’t going to fix the issues highlighted in the article. There is no system that will protect people willing to make uninformed decisions. Any decision to commit yourself to a school 2, 3, and 4 years before you will be a student there is an uninformed decision. You don’t know if the coach, recruit or school are going to be the same in four years.

These agreements between the athletes and the universities are unofficial “verbal commitments”, which in the eyes of the NCAA officially mean nothing.  Coaches have no obligation to honor a verbally committed scholarship just as the athlete has no obligation to sign with the school. Asking the NCAA to regulate the verbal commitment between an athlete and a coach is going to create more rules, something I don’t think should happen.

What would happen if coaches could contact any recruit they wanted?

The idea that the NCAA or any regulatory body could set rules that would stop a willing recruit and coach from communicating is unrealistic. They have tried to prevent early recruiting in sports like basketball and the effects are an influx of third parties who make the recruiting process worse. I think coaches and recruits should be allowed to communicate as much as they want. It is the frequent communication between a recruit, family and a coach that is going to make a more informed decision. The better you get to know a coach and how they run their program, the better chance you have of making the right choice.

If a top recruit is getting bombarded by interested coaches, then it is the family’s job to set guidelines with coaches. Look at the recruiting process for top basketball prospect Jabari Parker (now a freshman at Duke). An elite talent like Jabari had every coach recruiting him and could have committed to any program he wanted. His parents were concerned the process would be over whelming for him:

We want him to enjoy being who he is. If he wants to talk, we’ll ask him first. Right now, we don’t want him to be over-bombarded because coaches can sometimes be aggressive, and that can be overwhelming.” – Sony Parker (Jabari’s Dad)

His parents had a simple system, no coach or program was allowed to contact Jabari directly. All phone calls and text messages went through them. If a program was being overly aggressive they were removed from consideration. Simple. Effective.

Non-Revenue recruits need to behave like revenue sport recruits

For the big money sports like, football and basketball this type of early recruiting has been happening for years. Why then aren’t more 5-star football and basketball recruits verbally committed? They used to, but verbal commitments have come to mean almost nothing in those sports. Athletes routinely “committed” to a program, and continued to talk to and visit other coaches. In addition, opposing coaches began actively recruiting committed athletes.

While coaches in revenue sports might be “honoring” a verbal commitment between a recruit and a program and agree not to recruit a committed athlete, I wouldn’t expect this trend to continue. There was a time when football coaches honored the agreement not to recruit committed players, but the pressure to sign a top recruit ultimately won out and now all bets are off. It is only a matter of time before non-revenue coaches treat commitments the same as their revenue counterparts.

I don’t condone not honoring your verbal commitment. Instead, the top recruits in non-revenue sports need to understand the power they have in the recruiting process. If they feel they are being forced to take on offer from a coach, is that program really going to be the right school for them?

What can a family or recruit do now to fix this situation?

There is nothing the NCAA or any other college sports regulatory body can do to change the fact some athlete (or their parents) are going to do everything they can to play for a big name school. The competition for these few roster spots are always going to be overly competitive. Whether it is happening in 8th and 9th grade or forced to happen in the last few years of high school, the rules of the game are defined. Competition is fierce, commitments are being made extremely early and you need to accept the risks that come with these decisions.

What many families are discovering is that maybe big time college sports aren’t all it is cracked up to be. Maybe a coach with constant pressure to win isn’t going to provide you with a stable enough scholarship offer. Maybe the balance of athletics and academics at these big schools isn’t right for you.

As a family you set your priorities on what is important in the college experience. If you want sports to be part of it, look for a school that has the type of athletic opportunities you are looking for. There are hundreds of universities that offer a great balance of competition and academics, you don’t have to commit to a major athletic program as an 8th grader if you don’t want to.

Can You Handle What Happens at Elite Camps and Combines?

choosing a summer camp or combineYou know the expression, “Be careful what you wish for”? It applies to the elite athlete Spring/Summer camps and showcases held every year. These camps are often hyper-focused on one thing – finding the best talent and having them compete against one another.  Although some of these camps are invite only, many are open to willing participants who are able to manage the expenses. The problem is that during these camps, if you don’t get in the right group, game, or drill, you run the risk of going unnoticed. Unless…

You’ve probably heard the age-old story of the unknown kid that goes to an elite camp and comes out with coaches beating down his door. The good news? This happens. Sometimes. The bad news? In most cases, an unknown athlete that goes to camp will go unnoticed. Worse yet, you will probably be over-shadowed by an elite talent. With limited opportunities to attend camps and showcases, it’s important that you attend those that will benefit you the most. Here are some things to consider.

Coaches will go where the best are playing one another

In most high school competitions you are lucky to have one elite-level recruit. As a high-school athlete, you may not have a lot of experience competing against athletes on an equal or higher caliber than you. Camps allow coaches to bring elite talent together to see how they compete against one another. Your performance from these brief encounters holds much more weight than a season’s worth of video against low-level competition. You can make or break your chance with a particular coach at one camp.

Coaches aren’t just watching the play

Yes, coaches are looking for elite sport performance. But they’re also looking for positivity, and the ability of one athlete over another to work as part of a team. Coaches often evaluate an athlete’s body language more than their actual play. If you show a bad attitude or your body language indicates you are backing off the competition – coaches are taking notes. If you do poorly, don’t compound the problem by having a bad attitude about it. The key is to show enthusiasm and confidence (even in the face of adversity), without showboating or acting cocky.

Give coaches what they need to evaluate you

Coaches are creatures of habit and tend to recruit from the same areas each year. This means they are attending the same camps and showcases and unless you are there, don’t expect them to know who you are. You pick the schools you want to get recruited by, contact those coaches to find out where they recruit and then pick the camp or showcase you need to attend.

Do you belong against the best?

I’m going to give it to you straight – elite recruits have serious athleticism. They are big, strong, and fast, and the average high school athlete wouldn’t stand a chance against them in a one-on-one drill. Be honest with yourself: do you belong in that drill? If you do, great! If you aren’t sure, chances are you don’t. This doesn’t mean college sports aren’t right for you, just that the top D1-level might not be right for you. The same mistake happens often – an athlete wastes valuable time in the recruitment process by trying to break into an elite camp when they should be attending a camp for a D2 or NAIA school to establish a relationship with the coach there.

Picking camps and showcases is a critical component to any recruiting process. Feel free to contact me on Google+ or simply leave your questions in the comments below and I can help with any specific question you might have.

How Do I Get College Coaches to Watch Me Play?

college coaches watch me playMore than any other single event in the recruiting process, athletes and parents equate seeing scouts and coaches at your games as the sign that you are being seriously recruited. It is certainly true that if a school is going to send staff to come watch you play you are on their radar. What most recruits and families don’t know is that there is a lot you can do to make sure coaches are watching you compete.

Play Where College Coaches Are Already Watching Recruits

If you play sports like basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball or any sport with a large club or travel team component, make sure you are playing at the big events coaches attend. There are a couple huge events every year where the best travel teams in the country gather and accordingly, so do the college coaches. If your team is playing at these events and coaches know you are there, you stand a really good chance that they will watch at least some of your games.

Bonus Tip** Chances are if you are playing against a highly recruited player at a big tournament, several other coaches will be there. Go online, find out what schools are recruiting him or her and contact the coaches at that school showing your interest in their program.

Give Coaches a Sample of Your Ability Before Hand

Rarely do coaches not watch a player in person that they really want to. This means you need to do everything possible to get that coach to want to see more of you. If you only send an email to a coach, they can’t get a good sense of what kind of player you are. Having a really good highlight video online and sharing that link with coaches will give you the best chance of impressing the right coach. Every coach says a good highlight video leaves them wanting more and more means they are going to come and watch you play.

Take Advantage of Your Critical Opportunities When They Come

You have to understand, the majority of the games you play aren’t going to be watched by college coaches. The reality for most recruits is that there is going to be one or two events a year where you get the chance to get real exposure. This almost never comes at the high school level. Use this checklist to make sure you are prepared for the big events each year college coaches are going to be around.

  1. Make sure you are playing in the major tournaments and showcases for your sport each year.
  2. Email the coaches your highlight video and let them know your club team name, colors and schedule.
  3. Know when you are playing against other top recruits and contact the coaches at the schools you know or think might be recruiting them.

What Doesn’t Work For Getting Coaches to Your Games

Most recruits and families think their current coaches or high school AD’s are trying to get college coaches to the games. 99% of coaches aren’t doing this because it isn’t their job. They would like to help if they could, but they are very busy running the team.

Another common problem is athletes think if they are good enough, they get discovered. True, you can have one good game against the best competition and maybe get noticed. What happens if you are in that game and just play okay or worse play bad? You stand a way better chance of getting discovered if you let coaches know ahead of time who you are and that you are interested in their program. This gives coaches something more than just your single performance to decide whether or not to recruit you.

Why You Should Find the Right AAU or Travel Basketball Team

Why You Should Find the Right AAU or Travel Basketball Team
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Need a Reason to Find a Club Basketball Team?

Take it from Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Josh Smith, Dajuan Wagner, J.R. Smith, Tim Thomas and Anthony Davis– all professional players who grew up playing on an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team.

Playing for an AAU team provides one of the best advantages for young basketball player  looking to improve their skills and college recruiting chances. Today’s recruiters track the notable AAU basketball clubs to find the perfect recruits for their college programs.

The majority of the top basketball recruits are coming out of AAU club teams, which means if you are not a top 100 basketball recruit you need to know that coaches and recruiters are finding young talent in the club and AAU system and do something about it.

AAU programs are located throughout the country,so there should be a team in your area. The AAU basketball program as a whole is a useful resource for young athletes looking to find better competition in their area.

Remember, Joining a Team Will Not Guarantee You a Spot on a College Roster. Instead, Joining an AAU Team Will Benefit Your College Recruitment in Many Other Ways, Including:

  • Trying-out for a team will show your dedication to the sport. Making the team and being committed to the team will show college coaches you are willing to do what it takes to improve your skills and match up against the top competition in your area.
  • AAU teams give you a way to focus on advancing your basketball skills.
  • You will have the chance to completely commit to playing because most basketball club teams play year-round.
  • Providing players with opportunities to travel the country and to participate in national championships competing against the top players in your age group.
  • Joining an elite AAU basketball team will help players gain more exposure during the college recruiting process.

Playing on a year-round travel team will only improve your skill level and experience. You will be able to bring your experience back to your school team and carry it with you as you transition to college.

Before committing to any team, you should always find out as much as you can. AAU teams will require players to be AAU members. There may be additional team fees you will have to pay upon joining also so make sure you know what you are getting into before you join.

If you have further questions about joining an AAU basketball team, then leave your comment below and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

AAU and Club Volleyball Teams Help You Get a Scholarship: Tryouts Start in November

AAU and Club Volleyball Teams Help You Get a Scholarship: Tryouts Start in November
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One avenue an athlete can take as they decide to proceed in competing in their sport throughout high school and during college is to play on a competitive volleyball club team. This type of competition not only helps athletes develop their skills, it also helps them to realize if they want to continue competing in volleyball throughout high school and possibly into college.

Club teams, especially in volleyball can be an essential part of a player’s recruitment. College volleyball recruiters from top universities attend national championship tournaments and almost all coaches scout from the stands in smaller tournaments throughout the season. Volleyball recruiters often take interest in players they are familiar with throughout the club volleyball circuit.

To view the list of college recruiters attending national volleyball tournaments click here.

Upcoming Dates

Right now, if you are looking to join a women’s volleyball club team you need to know volleyball clubs are gearing up to host new team tryouts. Volleyball tryout dates are set by individual club teams. Most club volleyball teams hold tryouts during the last week of October or the first week of November.

How to Find a Volleyball Club Team

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is the largest non-profit sports organization in the country. The organization is dedicated to promoting sports for amateur youth and adult players. AAU is a great resource for athletes who wish to participate more competitively in their sport. The AAU site has an easy to use search function where you can easily search for club volleyball programs in your area.

All Clubs Are Different

Call club team coaches and organizers to learn their policy regarding tryouts. Some have open tryouts where all athletes are welcome to join, while some have closed tryouts where athletes must be invited to participate. For both types of tryouts athletes need to make sure to have the required forms to tryout. Paperwork for tryouts may include registering and having an active membership with the AAU, or another volleyball authority that governs club teams, to ensure you are an eligible athlete.

Just like in high school sports, not all AAU teams are alike; some coaches may be not as experienced as others, some teams will have different goals and will only want to stick to local and regional tournaments some will be extremely competitive wanting athletes to dedicate all of their time to the team and fundraising to get to the national championship tournaments. Make sure you know what you are getting onto before you get too involved.

If you have more questions about finding the right club team then leave your comment below and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+!

Don’t Lose Eligibility Because of Travel Team Associations

The NCAA has focused on limiting the influence coaches at top AAU basketball teams have in the college recruiting process in recent years, and they are continuing to crack down on the issue due to athlete eligibility issues.

Playing on a club or AAU team is a key part of the recruiting process; they allow athletes a chance to play at a higher level of competition than most high school leagues offer, and it lets them get out and play in tournaments in front of numerous college coaches. This added experience and playing time often gives basketball players who Don't Lose Eligibility Because of Travel Team Associationschoose to play on an AAU team a big advantage over those that only play for their high school teams.

AAU teams present a problem for the NCAA though because the power and influence the coaches have. Sports agents and financial advisers are also becoming involved in funding AAU teams, which they can do anonymously because of the non-profit status of many teams. AAU coaches are then expected to steer top players towards agents and advisers they have a relationship with.

College coaches are also often forced to deal with AAU coaches when they want to recruit an athlete, which increases third parties’ influence in the recruiting process. Some AAU coaches have even landed jobs as assistants at college programs, with the hopes of landing a certain recruit. College football programs have also experienced this, with teams offering assistant positions to high school coaches.

Make Sure You don’t Lose Eligibility Because of Your AAU Team Affiliations

The NCAA has banned AAU teams, and continued to investigate others. The NCAA’s intent is to locate the teams that are placing student-athletes’ eligibility in question. Even if you join a team without knowingly committing violations, the NCAA can still hold you accountable and reduce your eligibility( initially, you get five years of eligibility in which you can compete in four).

The only way to find out if your team is following the rules is to talk to your coach and learn more about the history of the team. AAU teams will immensely help your chances of being recruited, but make sure they aren’t also the reason you lose eligibility.

Do you have questions about travel teams and eligibility? Leave us a comment in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

From Unknown to NCAA to NBA: Lessons from Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis has enjoyed quite the ride over the last few years- going from being literally unknown in high school, to an NCAA Champion, to the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. The key breakthrough for Davis came when he tried out for former NFL player Tai Streets’ AAU basketball team, Meanstreets. At the time, Davis’ junior season in high school had come to an end, he was 6’7” and just beginning to explore basketball in a much larger body From Unknown to NCAA to NBA: Lessons from Anthony Davisthan he was used to.

Play on a Travel Team

If Davis hadn’t gone to try out for Streets’ AAU team, then he probably would not have been discovered- or at least not been recruited by the top schools in the country. Once Davis made the team he had the opportunity to showcase his skills to college coaches all summer. He was able to turn heads just by playing, but remember- he eventually became the #1 pick in the NBA Draft; you will have to make sure coaches know who you are before attending camps and travel team showcases, because they usually only scout athletes they know at camps/showcases- except in special situations such like Davis. If you are serious about your recruiting, you should learn more about playing on a travel team.

Davis’ Story is What Most Athletes Hope For, But it Probably won’t Happen

Davis stood 6’3” tall as recently as his junior year of high school. A couple of growth spurts later and Davis became one of the top recruits in the nation at 6’10”.

High school athletes always hope for that “aha” moment in college recruiting, where the ice will break and they can just fall into multiple scholarship offers. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic expectation. If you want the best chance to find a scholarship, you will have to grind it out and constantly look for opportunities. There will never be an “aha” moment, and you should never window-shop when looking for scholarship opportunities because the best fit for you isn’t always a top Division I school.

Find Ways to Reinvent Yourself

Davis was forced to develop rebounding and shot blocking abilities that he previously did not have as a guard.  Granted, you aren’t going to have a 7 inch growth spurt before your senior year (but good luck); what you can do though, is find aspects of your game that you can expand and improve. If you are a right handed athlete, get better at using your left hand. If you are a great defender, then work on some offensive skills. Davis wasn’t satisfied with just being bigger and getting more attention, he used this opportunity to expand his game and skills to help him get recruited to one of the top schools in the country and win an NCAA Championship.

Leave us your thoughts about Davis and college recruiting in the comment section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+!

Why Travel Teams Are Essential for Athletic Scholarships

travel teams and college recruiting

High school is the time in an athlete’s career when they are supposed to develop as a player and to grow as a competitor; from here, athletes will learn if they want to continue to play at the college level or not. For most athletes, the route to college sports competition begins as a little tyke in junior leagues and continues to move up through the levels of recreational leagues, finally making it to high school competition.

A growing trend we have seen more recently is high school athletes not being able to play their high school sport because it is not offered in their school. As unfortunate as this is, these athletes are now forced to seek out athletics elsewhere if they plan to make it at the collegiate level.

By not having the opportunity to compete in high school sports, athletes will be missing out on valuable experience, competition, and development. If the athlete is serious about wanting to make it at the college level, they will need to seek out opportunities elsewhere in order to gain the competitiveness necessary.

It is Crucial to Find a Competitive Sports Outlet if You Plan to Play College Sports

Athletes who do not have the skills and experience needed to compete will be at a greater disadvantage when it is time to be recruited for college athletics. College coaches are not looking for athletes who have some experience in the sport, they are looking for seasoned competitors with experience against top-level competition.

You Need to Find a Club or Travel Team

Club and travel teams are excellent ways to gain experience along with gaining college exposure. Most competitive athletes who have goals of making it to NCAA Division I or Division II level are already involved in travel leagues, along with competing on their high school team. Some serious competitors take part in club teams in lieu of their high school team due to the commitment needed to compete at such a competitive level.

Finding the Right Team is up to You

There are many competitive travel teams who claim to be the best bet for athletes who want to go on to the college level, which is why it’s important to do the research and to make sure a team is going to be worth it. Athletes and their families need to start looking for teams which will offer everything they are looking for: tournament play, competitive competition, college coach exposure, and assistance getting recruited. The Internet is a great way to do background research on teams to find out what they will offer athletes. Student athletes without high school teams to fall back on need to start researching early in order to be in contact with the coaching staff and to learn about tryouts and player expectations; even though a team requires players to pay to play, it doesn’t always mean they will include everyone. Having tryouts is a good indication that the team is serious about being the best.

If you have more questions about finding a competitive travel or club team, then leave a comment below or connect with us on FacebookTwitter, or Google+!


#12 Recruiting Corner: HS vs. Club Sports, Recruiting Strategies, Unofficial Visits, Duel-Sport Athletes


Do you have questions you want answered? Leave them in the comments below.


Joshua: Hey guys, welcome back. You know what time it is. Another round of The Recruiting Corner. Joshua Zimmerman welcoming back David Frank how are things going?

David: Good. Good to be back missed out last week, so happy to share some news this week.

Joshua: Glad to have you back guys. Just a reminder you can catch all of the episodes via YouTube. Check out Athnet Sports along with all of our frequently asked questions as well. So there’s a lot of information on there to help you through your recruiting process. So David, what do we have going on today?

David: Lots of news per usual in recruiting. We’re going to start off with somebody else coming out against high school sports in favor of club teams.

Joshua: Definitely. We’re also going to talk about whether using the newspaper is a great way to get recruited or not.

David: I think we know the answer to that already. We get to hear from a D1 coach who gives us his policy on recruiting overseas and a little bit of insight into how other coaches recruit overseas.

Joshua: Definitely. We’re also going to talk about how beneficial unofficial visits can be.

David: And more about dual sport athletes and whether you should try and remain a dual sport athlete or not.

Joshua: And because we’ve forget it last week, we’re going to go ahead and do two Facebook questions this week as well. So lots and lots to go. Why don’t you go ahead and get us started off

David: All right. Well, the first story is coming from Bill Wells, and his article is “College Recruiting Process Swing Towards Clubs.” This is again another article about how important clubs are becoming in recruiting and sort of against high school sports. So why don’t you explain what it is about.

Joshua: Basically, what he’s talking about in this is how heavily weighted the club sports are becoming versus the high school sports. We talked about it a couple of weeks ago, and really it’s a stress-er. It’s great to see another writer coming out and saying the exact same thing that we are saying and seeing the exact same thing that we are seeing. The trend is that high school sports for many, many sports are sort of falling off. I mean, you’ve got swimmers that are competing in heavy club sports. You’ve got soccer players. You’ve got baseball players. The reason behind it, what I found interesting, is because not only do the coaches get to see all the top level athletes in one particular area, but also that it’s opposite their season. So it’s really hard for a baseball coach to go during baseball season and recruit. It’s very easy for a baseball coach to go during the fall when they’re not doing anything to recruit. So it’s really interesting, and that’s why club sports are becoming so prevalent

David: Yeah. I thought that was a great point. It is that it’s out of season for them and they can go and see you during your club season.

Joshua: Definitely. So guys, check this out. Sticking with Bill Wells, he wrote an article because some parents were a little miffed at the fact that there was an error in the newspaper about their athlete, and they thought that that was going to hurt them in the recruiting process, because they thought that the newspaper was actually going to help them get recruited

David: Yeah, and Bill Wells know something that we’ve also found out. I get it from parents and athletes all the time, like, “Oh, do you think that I should share my newspaper clippings with coaches?” No. Coaches don’t want to see the newspaper clippings. They don’t cull the newspapers to find out information about recruits. It’s not an important piece of information for college coaches. It’s great. I know it makes you feel good, warm and fuzzy that you got in the newspaper and maybe you got a picture. But I’m telling you keep that in the scrapbook. Don’t send it to coaches and don’t waste their time

Joshua: Definitely. I still have my scrapbook from when I was in high school. Unfortunately, I don’t think a college coach ever called me, as heavily recruited as I was for a little while, I don’t think any one of them said, “Hey, I saw you in the newspaper. I think you’re a good athlete.” So just keep that in mind guys.

David: My scrapbook articles are all, “Oh, yeah, the cross country team ran.”

Joshua: Nice.

David: All right. We get to hear from Coach Thurmond again at the University of Washington. He got a question from an athlete presumably overseas who says, “What’s your policy on recruiting overseas, and when you go overseas, is there a lot of pressure for that athlete to commit once you’re there?”

Joshua: Definitely. Great question. Coach Thurmond has a wonderful blog, and it’s really great to hear from him as a D1 coach a at this point. Listen, as an international athlete, your opportunities to get recruited are ten times harder than it is for someone here in the United States, and that is simply because of access. It’s really expensive for a coach to board an international flight, go overseas, stay internationally for a period of time, and then come back. So when they do go, they have to not only have the budget to support that, but also they have to make it worthwhile, and that was one of the big things that Coach Thurmond said. If they’re going overseas, they’re going for a specific reason. It’s not for one athlete. Normally, it’s for multiple athletes, and the pressure there to commit is huge because if they flew all that way and they spent all that money to come see you, you better be the athlete that they really want.

David: Yes, that’s right. I think another take home message is he says most programs do make at least one trip overseas a year, and they go to the biggest tournaments available. He’s a golf coach, and he talks about going to either the European Boys Championship or something like the UK Boys Championship. If you’re not playing in those tournaments, you’re going to miss out on probably 90% of the coaches who are coming overseas to see you. So really good insight. Another great article from Coach Thurmond.

Joshua: Definitely. So check this out. A couple of major D1 athletes are taking unofficial visits. We read a story from Michael Carvell from out of Atlanta, and then also from Jeff Borzello at CBS Sports. They basically talked about two athletes. One of them was a commit for Georgia and Nick Saban sort of had a deal with him, and then also Shabazz Muhammad. You can go ahead and talk about that in basketball.

David: So the story goes these two very high-end recruits – Shabazz Muhammad by the way is the number one or two top basketball recruit in the country – and what it talks about is the extensive amount of unofficial visits these guys have been going on. In the case of going up to see Coach Saban in Alabama, this recruit got in a car with all of his buddies, drove up to Alabama on his own, and was in the office with Nick Saban. Shabazz Muhammad, the story was reported he made over 15 unofficial visits across the country. I think the really, really important news is that guys, if the best recruits in the country, the biggest names in recruiting are getting out there and seeing schools on their own dime, then you really, really need to make the effort to see these schools. Pile in the car with all your buddies, make a road trip up there to see these coaches, and make sure that you establish with these coaches that you’re coming so that when you are there you can visit with them. Two really, really good articles just to promote those unofficial visits.

Joshua: Definitely. As David said and he mentioned in there, listen, unofficial visits are completely on you. Coaches aren’t paying for anything, which means that you have to go. The unfortunate part for Shabazz is the fact that he had some people pay for his unofficial visits, and it could cost him a little bit of eligibility. But I know that’s still and the thing, you have to pay for it. So keep that in mind. This isn’t something that maybe family friends or business friends or whatever. This comes from your family and it’s tough. But they are a necessity in recruiting these days.

David: Right. Exactly. I think unofficial visits are not an option. It’s a necessity.

Joshua: Definitely. So next?

David: Next, coming up Monica McNutt, she wrote a great article. It’s “Transition Game, The Dual Sport Dilemma.” She talks about the difficulties of being a dual sport athlete in high school and how it impacts recruiting.

Joshua: Definitely. Listen, I was a dual sport athlete in high school for a couple years. I played soccer and I played football. My football coach sat me down and he said, “Listen, Josh, are you going to play college soccer? You’re a good soccer player. You’re not a great soccer player. You’re a great football player. Which is going to pay for your college education?” And I said, “Football probably.” He said, “Exactly. You need a quit soccer.” I was a sophomore in high school when we had that discussion. Probably the best decision I made at that point because soccer just wasn’t going to take me anywhere. Many, many high school athletes face this, and Monica McNutt talks about the fact that sometimes being a dual sport athlete hurts you more than it helps you, and that’s because it does take you away from maybe your bread and butter sports. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s great to say you are three-sport athlete. But if you find yourself losing focus, then sometimes it’s better to focus on one sport than try to be Mr. All American.

David: Yes, and I think that just goes for the advice to those top level recruits. These coaches need to see you playing year round, and you can’t play other sport if you’re trying to be at these elite programs.

Joshua: Definitely. Keep in mind, guys, if you play a sport, like let’s say its football and track. If you are a wide receiver and you’re a sprinter, those sort of go together, so that’s okay. If you’re a lineman and you’re a thrower, it’s sort of okay. But if you’re trying to play football, baseball, and soccer or you’re trying to play a fall, winter, and a spring sport, it’s really, really taxing. You need some time to let your body rest.

David: Yes, exactly. All right. So on to our Facebook questions. We have two coming from Thomas, two excellent questions by the way. First one up is he wants to know, “I’m emailing coaches. How do I get more responses?”

Joshua: Right now, Thomas, unfortunately emailing is not enough. Depending on your age, I realize that some people think you can or cannot contact. But right now you can contact coaches. So instead of just sending emails, we want to go ahead and make sure that you’re calling coaches, that you’re setting up unofficial visits, that you’re making sure that you’re persistent enough to let that coach know that you want this beyond just sending one e-mail.

David: Right. If you are only able to send email, something that is really important is make it personalized. Don’t write a “Dear I’m interested in your university,” put the university’s name in the title. Put the coach’s name in the title. Let them know that it’s addressed to them personally and not just some email you’ve been sending out to every other coach.

Joshua: That’s a great point.

David: All right. The next question Thomas asks and he goes, “Coach got back to me. He said, ‘I’ll follow up.’ But what should I do?”

Joshua: So basically, listen, if you get any response from a coach, feel lucky, because a lot of times coaches don’t respond automatically. If you get a response, respond back to them and thank them. You need to let them know that you care that they took their precious time and wrote you back. What you can do in that email is just let them know that you’re looking forward to corresponding with them over the next period of time, and always ask them how they prefer to receive their information, because some coaches might prefer email over phone, but some coaches want you to maybe call in once a week and just let them know an update on. So you might want to ask that question as well.

David: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Coaches, they’ll never get tired of hearing from a recruit once a week, once every two weeks with just an update. So if he says he’ll follow up, great, but don’t just take his word for it. Be ready to give him that new information when you get it and stay up to date on your contact.

Joshua: Definitely.

David: I think that about covers it.

Joshua: I think we wrapped it up today.

David: So what’s up for the weekend?

Joshua: You know, I’m actually jumping out of an airplane this weekend. So if you guys don’t see me, it’s been fun. But definitely going to try that, getting to go skydiving on Sunday. Yourself?

David: I can’t compete with that. I’m just going to be hanging out at home. No skydiving for me.

Joshua: You were dog sitting this weekend. So you get to have some fun there, Guys, thanks so much for tuning. Listen, as always, if you have questions, definitely hit us up on Facebook and on Twitter. We always answer them, and maybe we can make you part of the show. You know our Twitter handles @JZimmy67, @Athnet, and @DavidRFrank. Thanks for tuning in.

David: Thanks guys.

Playing College Soccer Just Got Easier / Harder

The US Soccer Development Academy has instituted a new 10 month long season for their elite Development Academy Club Season. This new schedule will take effect for the 2012/13 season and will impact college soccer recruiting immediately. If you want to play at the NCAA D1 level, it almost forces you to play for a US Soccer Development team.

US soccer academy map

US Soccer Development Academy teams are the elite club soccer teams for U15/16 and U17/18 soccer players across the country. There are over 3,000 players, across the 78 club teams and 10 regions. These are highly competitive clubs, where the best young soccer players travel the country playing in the biggest tournaments. According to the US Soccer Development Academy, this change allows more time to focus on development of players, increase the time between games for player’s health and safety and get the most committed young soccer players into a training system that will make the US more competitive at the international level.

It is nothing new that the best players are playing with the US Development system. Originally, these develop leagues played a much shorter season, allowing players to play at the high school level or even other sports. From the perspective of college coaches, there will not be a substantial change. They will still recruit from the same powerhouse clubs and attend the same key showcases each year. These changes are going to impact recruits and families the most.

Here, are the Biggest Take Home Messages From a Recruiting Perspective:

  • If you want to play NCAA D1 soccer, you are going to have to play for these elite clubs. Not every athlete who plays D1 will play for a US Soccer Dev. team and not every US Soccer Dev. team player will play for a D1 college. However, the vast majority of NCAA D1 players will come from these clubs.
  • High school soccer will lose relevance in the eyes of college coaches. It won’t happen overnight, but with the elite young soccer players playing full-time at the club level, the standard of high school soccer will drop. With this drop, the attention given to club soccer will go too.
  • Families need to identify where the elite clubs are and make the necessary sacrifices to be part of these clubs (see the map below).
  • You are going to have to decide at a young age if you think soccer is the sport you want to play exclusively. These clubs have U15 teams, meaning if you will need to decide around the age of 13,14 or 15 that you are committed to playing soccer full time.

Do you have questions about the new changes in soccer recruiting? Leave your questions in the comments below or find us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!