Competition is the very nature of athletics, so if you go into the recruiting process thinking “I’ll find a scholarship easily, without much work,” you are already starting off with a major disadvantage. You will have to work hard to get in touch with coaches, market your skills and abilities, and ultimately get a coach to choose you over another athlete whose skill-level will likely be just as high as yours. The fact is, you will be competing against more high athletes than there are college spots available. You will need to draw upon that competitive, athletic nature if you truly want to find a college opportunity.
A great blog for golf recruits (with tons of valuable information for recruits in all sports) is the University of Washington Coach Matt Thurmond’s Tumblr. Coach Thurmond will answer any recruiting question that comes his way. While many questions and answers focus on golf, he also provides great overall recruiting advice.
Someone asked him: What is the biggest difference between average college golfers and exceptional ones- the ones that have a real chance to make it professional?
Coach Thurmond’s three-part answer applies broadly to college recruiting in general:
Real Belief in Themselves
Coach Thurmond makes it clear that this is more than just positive thinking. You need to truly believe in yourself. If an athlete who believes in themselves sends a coach one email, do they give up if they don’t get a response? The short answer is no. The long answer is heck no! If you don’t hear back from a coach after one email, send them a follow up email. Still haven’t heard back from them? Try picking up the phone and calling them.
If you don’t hear back from a coach initially, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested (they will usually say something like, we have already committed all of our scholarships for your graduation year, or thanks for your consideration but you don’t have the necessary skills or requirements). What it does means is they are extremely busy and they talk to many athletes. You either caught them at a bad/busy time, or you have sent them a generic email that doesn’t show your interest in a school. You have to believe in yourself enough to continue to reach out to that coach; believe in yourself and continue to try and make a connection with a coach until they tell you otherwise.
Willingness to do Whatever it Takes
There is no denying that receiving a college scholarship will take work from the athlete (even though popular recruiting myths perpetuate the stereotype of coaches always finding the best athletes). Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Don’t just rush and say yes, because sometimes doing what it takes means not hanging out with your friends on a Saturday, and instead going through your recruiting emails and looking for more schools to contact. If you are truly willing to do whatever it takes to get recruited, the odds are you will end up finding a school that is a great fit for you.
Here Coach Thurmond talks specifically about developing a short game in golf, but it can easily be expanded to other sports. A golfer’s short game (putting and chipping) is the most important part of the game for golfers to master if they want to be elite. What is the most important thing you need to master in your sport? Figure that out and make it your mission to improve it! What key athletic skill can you hone to increase your value to a college program?