Important note: this guide is the sister document of the BRX Recruiting Freshman Year Checklist; each orange headline below corresponds with an item on the checklist. We recommend printing out the checklist to make sure you’re getting through the necessary steps each year and keep this portion handy as a resource when you’d like more clarity on the checklist items.
Step 1: Get an honest evaluation of your skills and abilities
Step 2: Research how your skills and metrics compare to where athletes who ended up committing to D1, D2, D3, NAIA, and JUCO were their freshman year
Here’s one resounding theme you’ll hear from college coaches: spend time communicating with schools who are a good fit for your athletic and academic ability. No amount of marketing or self-promotion can overcome a lack of ability level.
This starts with understanding what the athletic benchmarks are for getting recruited; the numbers required varies by division. For example, if you are a junior right handed pitcher in high school, you might find the following fastball velocities needed to get recruited at each division:
If you currently throw 82 MPH as a junior, your target schools should be Division 3 schools, and your stretch schools should be Division 2. It would be a waste of your and the coach’s time if you were focusing on Division 1 schools
Important note: based on how your abilities develop each year, your target and stretch schools can change! In the case above, if a pitcher adds 8 MPH to his fastball during his junior year, he could go from D3 caliber to D1 caliber.
But what if your sport doesn’t have such clear-cut metrics? This is where an honest evaluation of your abilities comes into play, although this should apply to athletes of every sport.
Each year – but especially your freshman year – get an honest evaluation of your abilities, which should be from any combination of the following:
Getting an evaluation will help you know where you stand and give you more of an idea of where to spend your time with your college coach outreach.
Step 1: Establish long-term and short-term academic goals
Step 2:Establish long-term and short term athletic goals
Now that you’ve been given an honest evaluation of your abilities, you have your starting point of where you stand today as an athlete.
The next step is to set your goals. Do you have aspirations of playing Division 1 athletics? Or maybe just any level of collegiate athletes would make you happy? Once you decide this, you’ll be able to see the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
For example, a freshman volleyball player who is an outside hitter knows she wants to play Division 1 volleyball, and that coaches are looking for at least a 20-21” vertical jump and a jump height of 10’0”. She currently has a 12” vertical jump and a jump height of 9’3”, and she knows that most colleges fill up their recruiting classes when athletes are juniors, so she sets the following goals:
At the other end of the spectrum is academic goals, which are just as important as athletic goals. This isn’t something people just “say to say.” Here’s what Arkansas baseball recruiting coordinator Nate Thompson has to say on the subject:
“The first thing every high school athlete should know is this: the grades you get as a freshman are going to be on your transcripts. From the very first grade you get as a freshman, it matters, and it matters now. I’ve seen plenty of athletes screw up opportunities for themselves because they didn’t care about school until it was too late.
Much like the vertical jump example above, you’ll need to set year-by-year academic goals for yourself. Above all else, remember that your freshman year grades are critical for you getting into you the school you desire!
Once you have your year-by-year academic and athletic goals, print them out and place them somewhere where you’ll see them every day.
As we discussed earlier, what schools you place on your initial colleges list should be heavily influenced by at least one (and hopefully more) honest evaluations of your current ability level by people you trust.
Communicating with 30 or more college coaches can be an extremely time-consuming, chaotic, and messy process. It is essential that you stay organized throughout the recruiting process.
Based on your evaluation, academic ability and interests, and goals, begin the process of researching universities that might be a good fit for you. From here, create three sections of 10 schools each:
Aim for 10 schools in each of these groups for a total of 30. Eventually, shoot for having somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-50 schools on your BRX Recruiting Chart. Again, this can change on a yearly basis based on the progress you’re making and general preference changes as you get older. The important thing here is to get started.
Getting your guidance counselor involved with the recruiting process is MUST, because the minimum course requirements for the NCAA and your top schools aren’t always the same.
First, compare the minimum course requirements of the NCAA to the schools that are highest on your list. Make a note of any differences or questions you have prior to your meeting with your guidance counselor out of respect for their time.
At your meeting, inform your guidance counselor of your desire to play collegiate athletics and make sure you’re on the right path towards making sure you’d be eligibile at any school that’s on your list.
How many times has a famous athlete been in the news on what should be the best day of their life for an inappropriate tweet made when they were a freshman or sophomore in high school?
This is one of the FASTEST ways you can make yourself “uncrecruitable” to a prospective college coach.
Review all of your social media content since you opened your accounts and delete anything that could pass as even borderline harmful or inappropriate.
Recruiting rules, eligibility requirements, and when you can communicate with coaches frequently changes.
Luckily, the NCAA publishes a short guide each year on what parents and athletes need to know for ensuring as smooth of a transition between high school and collegiate athletics as possible.
Type in the term “NCAA Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete” on Google, click on the first link from the NCAA website, and download or purchase the guide.
If you read our recruiting resource College Coach Q&A, it’s pretty clear that attending the camp of a school you’re interested in is one of the best – if not best – way to get a coach’s attention. Here is Yale Lacrosse coach Andy Shay on the importance of camps (which they call “prospect day”):
“The best way to be seen by our coaching staff is to come to our prospect day [camp]. Really, it’s the only way that you can guarantee that we’ll see you. Unfortunately, there will be 100 kids at our prospect day and a large portion of those players aren’t going to end up here. That’s just the reality of recruiting. But, if you do show up to our prospect day, it’s a guarantee that we will see you and be able to evaluate your chances of playing at Yale. And, as a recruit, that’s all you can ask for. You should want to be seen. The alternative is the slim chance that we will see you at a tournament, with 80 other teams. That’s just not very likely.”
Having said that, not all camps are created equal. Some camps are run by scouting organizations (with no coaches in attendance), while others are run by college coaches themselves on their own campus. Some are geared more towards improving your skills while others are focused on a thorough evaluation of your current abilities.
When deciding on camps, ask yourself the golden question below:
Are my skills good enough to get recruited?
Talk to coaches, camp organizers, and anyone else that might help you figure out what the camp is geared towards.
Once you’ve decided on what’s important to you and compiled a list of camps, prioritize them in order of what will help you the most. Then it’s time to get the camp(s) on your schedule!
Many of you reading this already play for a club organization and are happy with your situation, which is great! Feel free to skip on ahead to the next checklist item.
If you do not yet play for a club organization and are considering it, please understand this:
99% of the time, college coaches come to tournaments to watch players they have already identified as being good enough.
College coaches are almost NEVER showing up to a tournament without a plan of who they’re there to see. This can be due to a recommendation from another coach, a recruit letting them know their game schedule, a phone call from a club director, or something similar.
Why are we saying this? The reason to pay several thousand dollars to play for a club team should NOT be for the expectation that you will get “exposure” during your tournaments. It is simply not the reality of recruiting in a world where coaches already are putting in 80+ hour workweeks and don’t have time to have a shotgun approach towards recruiting. The vast majority of your games will have zero college coaches in attendance.
With this being said, playing for a club organization can be a terrific investment, if you understand what you should really be paying for:
Notice the common theme here: improving your ability. To get recruited, you simply have to be good enough before you’ll have a chance of a college coach coming to watch you play
It sounds somewhat counterintuitive, but make sure any club organization you’re considering places a higher priority on a well-thought out plan for developing the skills of their players than the tournament schedule.
Far too many athletes with sub-par abilities spend their time and money playing 50+ games each summer when the actual thing holding them back is developing their body and skills to a level colleges are looking for. Sometimes this can be attained at the right club organization, while at others it can’t. This is where doing your research on each club comes into play.
Once you’ve prioritized your list of club organizations, it’s time to calculate the all-in cost. Beyond the travel team fee, make sure you’re estimating the following:
It’s not uncommon for the all-in costs to be over $10,000 per year, but this varies considerably by organization.
Again, everything comes back to ability level. Make sure that you understand what the gap is between where you are currently and where you want to be, and that your club organization of choice can bridge that gap.
One of the first things coaches will ask for if they’re interested in you is for video that shows your skills. This could be general clips of your skills, game footage, or an edited recruiting video.
This is why we give each of our BRX clients their own personal Dropbox folder that contains their BRX assessment and reassessment videos and has the ability to store even more: game footage, a recruiting video, and whatever else will help our athletes’ communication with college coaches.
Start by making sure your initial assessment videos are in your BRX Dropbox folder (if you completed performance testing your first visit to BRX) and if you have completed a reassessment, those videos as well.
While you don’t have to worry about committing to a college your freshman year, you should absolutely begin the process by sending an introductory email to get on the radar of coaches at schools who are a good fit for your current ability level.
One non-negotiable rule: PERSONALIZE EVERYTHING!
Read the quote below twice:
“We get roughly one hundred emails each day from prospective student-athletes. The majority of those are the standard, regurgitated email where my name has been filled out at the top and I can tell it is being sent to every other coach in the country. Those just get deleted. There’s nothing personal to those emails. The same way a recruit would want a personal email from me is why I want a personal email from them. I want to see that they can identify with our program. For instance, if I get an email from a recruit highlighting one of our potential roster needs in the coming year, I am going to pay attention to that. That means they have done their homework and they can really envision themselves being a part of our program.”
Head Coach, Northwestern Ohio Soccer
Whether it’s mentioning a roster need or Googling a coach’s name to find out you share an interest in Italian cuisine, FIND SOMETHING THAT SHOWS YOU DID YOUR HOMEWORK! This type of approach will drastically improve your odds of getting a response from coaches
Now that we’ve discussed personalization, what should you actually say in your initial email to a college coach your freshman year?
The ultimate goal with your first email to a college coach is to send something brief that catches their eye and gets you on their radar so that the next time you send a more comprehensive email at the end of your freshman or beginning of sophomore year, they have a frame of reference when they see your name.
For example, a freshman catcher might send something like the following
Dear Coach Robinson,
My name is Eric Smith, and I’m a freshman catcher at Northland High School. As I begin the recruiting process and research into colleges with strong Biology programs, Lakeside University is at the top of my initial list.
I also noticed that you have had quite a few good catchers come through your Lakeside University program recently who made big strides throughout their four years, like J.T. Jacobson. As someone who really wants to find a place that has a proven track record of developing players into the best players they can be, I have high interest in being a prospective recruit of your program.
At the moment, I have a 2.1 pop time (PBR verified), 72 MPH catching velocity, and 85 MPH exit velocity. Currently, I have been playing up two age levels with the Perfect Game Spring League, caught innings for juniors and seniors committed to SEC and Big 10 schools, and have been holding my own. If you’re interested, you can view my PBR profile here [link].
What do you recommend I do from here to continue the process?
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Do not worry about including any videos, profiles, questionnaires, or anything else. There are two main goals at this stage:
Make sure you log all communication – both outgoing and incoming – in your BRX Recruiting Chart so you know who you have contacted, who you need to follow up with, etc.
Lastly, one more important point: the vast majority of coaches you send emails to will not respond. Remember this: all it takes is one.
Moreover, remember that college coaches are some of the busiest people on the planet and not always the greatest with digital communication. Just because they don’t respond to your initial communication attempts does not mean they aren’t interested. Being persistent is an absolute necessity in the recruiting process.
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