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College Sports Recruiting Tips, Part II

A sprinting track on a school's sports field.

If you’ve been following the tips from our previous post (College Sports Recruiting Tips, Part I), you now have an athletic resume, a preliminary list of colleges, and a growing list of camps, tournaments, and achievements in your sport of choice.

Now, it’s time to start getting the word out about your intention to play college sports:

1. Fill Out Recruiting Questionnaires. Many schools—especially Division III schools—include recruiting questionnaires for each of their varsity sports on their website. Fill out these forms for each school that offers them. Make sure that the facts and statistics they’re requesting on these forms are also reflected on your athletic resume.

2. Contact Coaches. Coaches at Division I, II, and III schools must all abide by different rules as to when, how, and how often they can contact you—you’ll want to look at these rules so you know what kind of correspondence you can expect from the coach’s office. However, this does not prevent you from proactively contacting coaches yourself. Send polite, professional emails notifying coaches of your interest in their program. Attach your college resume. And while it’s great to be enthusiastic, you must also be honest: don’t tell everyone you contact that their program is your #1 choice.

3. Stay in Touch. This is important! Respond promptly and courteously to any correspondence you receive from coaches, and keep them updated with your accomplishments and plans to attend camps and tournaments throughout the year.

4. Go on Unofficial Visits. As with correspondence, NCAA rules stipulate how often coaches can invite you to their schools for “official” visits. But again, you may visit a school yourself at any time. When you do so, make an effort to get to know both the school and the athletic program. Get in touch with coaches at least one month ahead of time and request a meeting with them, and try to talk to current players and students as well in order to get a better feel for the environment.

5. Maintain Perspective. Coaches and schools have limited resources, and relatively few athletes will receive a coveted “offer,” whether that be a scholarship from a DI school, or a guaranteed Early Decision admission at a DIII school. Ask coaches for a frank assessment of where you stand on their list (this is the benefit to building an honest rapport), and remember to develop a backup plan. Ask about walk-on options, or even the possibility of playing a club sport. You may need to make a hard decision on what’s more important to you: attending a particular school, or playing on a particular team. Nobody can make this decision but you and your family!

As you follow these tips and pursue that offer from your dream school, remember to start early, respond promptly to coach requests, and always be polite and forthright in your correspondence—remember that you’re laying the foundation for relationships that will carry you through college and beyond. Good luck!

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