Improving Your Scholarship Opportunities
Start the Process Early
Coaches have told us that in order to measure an athlete’s true potential, it is important to follow them over the course of a few years. You should start contacting coaches as soon as you have stats from your first season. By the time you reach your senior year, you will have been in contact with these coaches for more than 3 years and they will know who you are.
This type of commitment and responsibility sets you apart from other athletes. Don’t worry if coaches don’t respond to your e-mails when you send them your resume as a freshman or sophomore – it’s just the first step to gaining name recognition from a coach.
Practice Talking With College Coaches
When speaking to a coach on the phone, remember to use proper grammar, and have a clear understanding of exactly what you want the coach to know about you. When writing e-mails, use spell check, and format your e-mails correctly. An e-mail is NOT a text message; you must address the coach properly and sign your name on the bottom. Talk to coaches as if you were interviewing for a job!
Also, have a mature and professional e-mail address – nobody wants to recruit an athlete with the e-mail address with the name BigPimpinJohn@email.com – instead, use something like JohnSmith1@email.com.
Be enthusiastic when communicating with a coach and study up on their program. Have something to offer to the conversation! How well you communicate with a coach will determine whether or not you will be able to earn the scholarship you want.
Have a Great Video to Share
Coaches won’t scout you if your video doesn’t impress them. Coaches look for specific elements in a video, and there are ways to make your video stand out.
Videos are only important for the following sports: baseball, basketball, football, golf, field hockey, lacrosse, volleyball, hockey, soccer, softball, tennis, wrestling, fencing, equestrian, gymnastics, and water polo.
Here are some tips for making a great recruiting video:
- A dynamic video will keep the coach watching until the end.
- Do not have music, especially not music with explicit language.
- Use a high quality video.
- Keep the video under seven minutes.
- Coaches may request actual game footage if they are interested.
- Put the video online so that coaches can see it easily – do NOT mail DVDs to coaches unless they request it.
- Have a new video for every season.
Visit School as Many Schools as You Can
If you are already speaking with a coach, ask that coach if you can visit the campus and meet with him. Taking this step shows maturity and a strong desire to attend that specific school. You won’t fully know if you like a school or a coach until you visit the campus. If a coach agrees to meet with you, take advantage of this opportunity to impress them in person.
Research the Schools You Want to Attend
Nothing impresses a coach more than a prospective student-athlete who is self-aware. You should have an idea of the type of school you want to attend (location, size, environment, etc.), the major you want to study, and the type of team you want to be a part of. You will be perceived as a mature and responsible candidate if you are able to describe what you want in a school. If you have no preferences whatsoever, coaches will see you as someone without goals or aspirations.
Improve Your Grades
Having a stellar academic background is a huge advantage in the recruiting process. Athletes who meet the minimum qualifications are eligible to receive an academic scholarship that does not count against the athletic budget of the coach. Meeting the following requirements only makes you eligible for academic scholarship money; it does not guarantee that you will receive it. To receive a scholarship from the academic department, incoming freshman need to have a 3.5 GPA, be in the top 20% of their class, and have either an 1140 combined Math & Reading SAT score or have a 100 ACT composite score.
In many cases, having an impressive academic background can also help place you on a team that is above your athletic skill level. Coaches looking for a GPA boost are always willing to take on less than stellar athletes who are guaranteed to help raise their team GPA.
Provide Multiple References
Have multiple coaches or teachers serve as references. Coaches will want to speak with people who can testify to your abilities both as an athlete and student. Not having both athletic and academic references will signal to coaches that you are not someone who authority figures want to speak up for.
Don’t Miss Deadlines
Applying to schools and getting a scholarship are two separate processes. You need to fill out an application and get accepted to a school you are interested in attending. Find out when the application deadlines are during your senior year and plan ahead to make sure you are submitting your application on time.
Also know what the recruiting deadlines are – there are specific signing periods for each sport, and once these signing periods end, you will no longer be able to receive a scholarship.
It is also important to register AND be cleared by the NCAA and NAIA Eligibility Centers so that coaches know you are academically eligible.
Author: David Frank