The most common questions from athletes and parents when it comes to the college recruiting process are:

When should we start?

What are the steps we should follow along the way?

Timing

If you’re a middle school athlete, you should focus on playing sports with your friends, having fun, and getting good grades. Don’t worry about starting the recruiting process this early. If you’d like to begin researching schools with your parents to learn about what colleges have to offer, that’s great.

Once you start high school, you should work towards playing on the freshman, sophomore, JV, or varsity teams. Don’t stress about making varsity right away. Making any team is a great way to develop your skills and build relationships with coaches and teammates. It will also help you practice managing your time between school and sports, which will come in handy as a future college student-athlete.

When you make the varsity team, college coaches could potentially begin recruiting you. Playing on a varsity team can be demanding, so be sure to balance your time between games, practice, and school. One of the most important things you can do to help yourself in the recruiting process is to keep up your grades. Keep working with your coaches and parents to continue researching colleges.

Steps to Follow:

Here’s a checklist to follow once you start the recruiting process:

Organizing Info + Coach References

Gather your academic and athletic information in one place and keep it up-to-date as much as possible. The most important academic information includes your GPA, SAT/ACT scores and transcripts.

Your athletic information should include good quality video and your coach references. College coaches will want to learn more about you directly from your coaches, so organizing your coaches’ contact information and evaluations in one place will help speed up the process.

Researching + Targeting Schools

When creating your list of colleges to target, start by adding any schools that interest you, including your dream schools and safety schools. However, don’t just look at colleges have the best athletic programs. Be sure to research schools by their location, competition level, academics, majors, scholarships, etc.

Your coaches are great resources to help you research schools. Ask your coaches where they’ve sent athletes in the past, which college coaches they have relationships with, and which competition levels would be the best fit for you.

Exposure to Colleges

After organizing your information into one place, work with your coaches to get in front of colleges. Having your coaches introduce you to college coaches is beneficial for three of reasons:

First, college coaches will want to speak with your coaches throughout the recruiting process. Your coaches are a tremendous resource for colleges in providing information about your athletic and academic abilities, character, leadership skills, and more.

Second, while there are a number of rules around contact between colleges and prospective student-athletes, college coaches can communicate with your coaches at any time.

Finally, recruiting is about relationships and building trust. When college coaches receive an athlete recommendation from your coach, they know your coach is putting his or her credibility on the line, making college coaches much more willing to review your information.

Tracking Activity from Colleges

Staying organized is a key component in the recruiting process. Keep track of which colleges you’ve reached out to, which schools have reached out to you, what camps you have been invited to, who has reviewed your information, and who has shown interest in you.

Communication (Colleges + Your Coaches)

Keeping your coaches involved throughout the recruiting process is extremely helpful. Your coaches are great advocates and resources for you. Be sure to communicate with them constantly.

When communicating with college coaches, be sure to respond when they contact you. Before speaking with colleges, make sure you are prepared. Research their coaching background, information about the team, and have questions to ask them about the program and college.

While the recruiting process is different for each athlete, the best thing you can do for yourself is to work hard, stay positive, and work with your coaches and parents. Ultimately, you’ll discover which opportunities are available and which college is the best fit for you.