How to Get Recruited as a College Athlete

Participating in college athletics is an excellent way to get into top schools. During admissions, athletes are oftentimes considered in a separate and easier pool than normal applicants. This allows athletes to be accepted into elite schools at much higher rates with lower academic requirements. 

Furthermore, many athletes receive athletic scholarships to help their tuition costs. Although there’s a lot of upside to participating in college athletics, there’s a lot of work to successfully get recruited and qualify for top tier athletics.

Athletic Recruiting Process

Athletics recruiting varies for each sport but it usually starts at a fairly young age. College coaches may even start scouting top recruits in middle school, but there are strict rules about the process. These rules include limits for contacting coaches before a certain grade, coaches contacting athletes before a certain grade, and committing to play for a school before a certain grade. These rules vary between division, sport, and gender. You should research these rules to get a better understanding of when you can coaches and be contacted by coaches for your particular sport.

These rules are important because if you’re not a 5 star or blue chip recruit, you’ll most likely need to contact coaches and get exposure to be recruited. The best ways to do this are by attending recruiting events and creating a video of yourself playing your sport and emailing it to coaches. Recruiting events most usually guarantee that certain coaches will be attending so you know who will be watching you. Attending these events will never hurt and will allow you to get into contact with many coaches.

At these events you should always introduce yourself to coaches and ask them to watch you play. In addition to recruiting events, it’s important to have a recent and good quality video of you playing your sport. Many athletes get recruited solely from sending these videos to coaches by email. Once you contact coaches by email it’s important to keep communicating with them, updating them on your achievements, and inviting them to your sports events.

Athletic Scholarships

Very few high school athletes end up participating in college athletics and even fewer get scholarships. Similarly to recruiting rules, scholarships vary greatly between sport, gender, division, and school. For example, division 1 men’s tennis has 4.5 scholarships while women’s tennis has 8. However, Ivy league and Division 3 schools don’t offer athletic scholarships at all.

In general, the more funding a school has the more likely they are to have a full amount of scholarships for their sports teams. Click here to see how many scholarships are offered by a school in regards to sport, gender, and division. Remember, even if a sports team qualifies for scholarships, a school may not offer scholarships because of a lack of funding, so make sure research each school individually to see if they offer scholarships.

Differences Between Divisions

The largest differences between NCAA divisions are student body size and scholarships. Division 1 schools are usually the largest and offer the most scholarships while Division 3 schools are usually the smallest and offer no scholarships. Many people simply assume that Division 1 is the premier division for athletics. Although top Division 1 teams may have most of the top athletes, Division 2 and 3 schools recruit 5 stars and blue chips as well.

Division 1:

  • Usually more scholarships
  • Usually larger college
  • Most practice time allowed
  • More control over athletes
  • Usually has most of the professional-bound athletes

Division 2:

  • Usually offers some scholarships
  • Usually mid-sized schools

Division 3:

  • Offer no scholarships
  • Usually smaller schools
  • Least practice time allowed

Another significant difference is amount of practice. Division 1 schools have the greatest amount of allowed practice while Division 3 schools have the least. This means at higher division schools you are likely to have to more organized practice hours, which can mean less time studying and resting. In rare occasions athletes may lose their scholarship for underperforming, or even worse, a Division 1 coach may restrict a player from transferring schools. Yes, if you are a Division 1 athlete, you need your coach’s approval to transfer schools, and if they do not approve you can not transfer.

For any athlete to participate in NCAA athletics they have to register themselves on the NCAA clearinghouse website before being able to participate. This website is designed to make sure that you qualify to participate. For instance, if you have won money professionally, there is a chance you may not be able to participate.

Finally, there are two organizations that are entirely separate from the NCAA – the NAIA and NJCAA. The NAIA much smaller than NCAA, but it is very similar to NCAA Division 2 athletics. NJCAA is only for 2 year community colleges and is the smallest sports organization. Each organization has slightly different rules but they’re similar in most ways.

Remember to Have Fun

Navigating the college recruiting process can be difficult and there are many things to consider while selecting a school. In addition, make sure you’re ready for a large commitment to sports during college. College sports in all divisions are much more difficult than high school athletics. Although there’s a lot to consider, the upsides to participating in college sports are tremendous. Remember, it’s a very exciting process despite some challenges. Make sure to have fun while being recruited!

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