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How to Get Recruited

The first step to becoming a student-athlete is to do your research. The recruiting process can be time-consuming and require some work, but don’t worry – we are here to help!

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Key Takeaways

  • Research where you want to go and when recruiting starts for your division
  • Pay close attention to the recruiting calendar, search colleges, and connect with coaches
  • Visit colleges and sign-up for camps. It is critical to take action and stay engaged

Steps in the Recruiting Process

First and foremost, it is important to understand that you are the one in the driver seat. Very few athletes are actively recruited from a young age, most athletes have to drive the recruiting process themselves to try and make it to the college level. There are many free resources available, so don’t hesitate to use multiple – if not all of them. The more effort you put into the process, the more exposure you will get, making it much more likely that you will gain a spot on a college team.

Everyone goes through the same struggles: Even though the mass of information seems overwhelming at times, always remember, thousands of other students have gone through the same process before – and it is totally worth it. To save you time and energy, we have put together the most important information for you.

On the following pages, we have laid out all of the steps of the recruiting process, from making the initial contact with coaches to securing a scholarship on the team of your dreams.

 Follow these Steps:

1) Know where you want to go 5) Get noticed by coaches
2) Know when recruiting starts 6) Visit colleges
3) Keep track with your recruiting calendar 7) Sign-up for camps & tournaments
4) Search for colleges & universities …be pro-active, don’t wait for coaches!


1) Know where you want to go

First, you have to figure out which universities are worth considering, so that you can focus your time on schools that you are actually interested in attending. Unfortunately, your first choice may not always offer you the best scholarship, so it’s important to be prepared and have multiple options.

1.1) Set Priorities

Before starting your journey of becoming a student-athlete, it is important to get a good understanding of the things you truly care about and that you want to focus on in life. For instance, some students go to college primarily to pursue their dream of becoming a professional athlete, while others simply continue with their sport and focus on their education, but most student-athletes try to balance both.

Balance athletic, academic, and social fit: If you are not certain about your priorities, we recommend finding a good balance between a good athletic, academic, and social fit. Try and compete in your sport at a level that is challenging and exciting, but also emphasize on finding a school that will provide you with a good education. Getting a degree from a recognized college or university will allow you to find a job you like – just in case you are not one of the few who make it to the professional level in your sport.

Lastly, finding a place that you enjoy being at, will not only make for a better college experience, but also increase your chances to successfully compete in your sport and succeed in the classroom. The happier you are, the more likely you are to excel and reach your full potential.

1.2) Identify Colleges

We recommend that you first consider the following questions, and then come up with a list of at least 15 colleges that really stand-out to you:




School Type

    • Do you want to go to a private or public school? (Climate / Close to Home / Culture)
    • Do you want to go to a small, medium-size or large university?
    • Do you want to go to a college with religious affiliation, such as a catholic school?
    • Search and filter for colleges that match your preferences

2) Know when recruiting starts

2.1) Connecting with Coaches

  • Coaches can’t contact you before your Junior year in high school, but you can contact them anytime
  • Before contacting coaches, make sure you have a good understanding of the recruiting process.

2.2) Rules for Contacting Coaches

The NCAA has established rules to protect student-athletes from getting contacted too much from college coaches. For example, the recruiting calendar explicitly specifies the recruiting periods for when and how a coach can contact you.

Students can always reach out to coaches: Generally, coaches cannot recruit student-athletes before June 1st of their junior year, which means they are not allowed to actively reach out to an athlete or their families. However, if the students themselves initiate the contact, they can call or visit a college and discuss scholarship opportunities as much as they like. Therefore, college coaches will often try to connect with clubs or high school coaches to find a way to meet or speak with you.

The important takeaway is that you can indeed connect with coaches before your junior year, if you actively initiate the contact. Ask your current coach to schedule a call, do it yourself, or make an unofficial visit to campus, as long as the coach knows you are coming and has agreed to meet you.

2.3) Effectively communicating with coaches

Effectively communicating with coaches is very important, athletes who are proactive will certainly give themselves a leg up in the process.

However, it is important to understand that just because an athlete can contact a coach at any time, it doesn’t mean you should contact them too frequently. College coaches are extremely busy with many recruits to consider. Here are some examples of when you should send an update to coaches during the recruiting process.

2.4) Update coaches during the recruiting process:

    • After you completed signing up for the NCAA or NAIA eligibility center.
    • You received a higher SAT or ACT score to update them for your admission.
    • Congratulating the coach and team for a big win or award.
    • Asking advice for camps or combines to attend.
    • When you have received offers from other schools.
    • Asking about unofficial/ official visits or scholarship offers.
    • A follow up thank you note for visits.
    • You achieved a new personal best, won a big game, or updated your highlight video.

Tipp – The 24 hour window

If a coach contacts you, you should make it a priority to respond in some capacity within 24 hours. However, if you have contacted a coach and are waiting for a response, give them at least 48-72 hours to reply before reaching out again.

3) Recruiting Calendar

3.1) Recruiting Periods

The NCAA specifies four recruiting periods that strictly regulate the kind of interaction college coaches can have with high school students during the year.

Important – You can always contact coaches: While college coaches must follow these rules, student-athletes can initiate contact with coaches at any time. Which is why it’s important to stay proactive and know how the recruiting calendar works.

3.2) Contact Period

All communication between the coach and athlete is open. During this period, coaches can have face-to-face contact with an athlete, watch them compete, visit their school or home, email, text and call them. As well as connect on social media.

Coaches offer scholarships: At this point in the recruiting process, coaches are ready to make and solidify scholarship offers. With meeting the athletes and their parents, they are able to complete their evaluations and ensure the athlete would be a great addition to their program.

3.3) Evaluation Period

The evaluation period is much like the contact period, however with one major difference. Coaches cannot have any face-to-face contact with the athlete off their college campus. During this time coaches will usually visit high schools to evaluate multiple players at once and watch them compete, but they can’t meet with a recruit personally. The “bump rule”- coaches are allowed to briefly say hello to recruits they happen to “bump” into when conducting evaluations. Engaging beyond that point however, is breaking NCAA rules.

3.4) Quiet Period

The quiet period is stricter than both the contact and evaluation periods. In this period, in-person contact can only happen on the college’s campus. This means coaches cannot visit an athletes high school or home, however they can still send emails, calls, texts, and social media messages.

Take unofficial visits: Since coaches are not permitted to watch athletes compete, they will usually encourage athletes to take unofficial visits to the college to explore campus life. Many athletic programs have begun hosting “junior days” during this time, inviting a large group of recruits to campus to tour the facilities and talk with coaches.

3.5) Dead Period

The most restrictive period, the dead period forbids coaches from having any face-to-face contact with student-athletes. The only form of contact allowed during this period is email, phone calls, texts, and social media messages. Dead periods typically fall right before students sign their National Letters of Intent, so that coaches aren’t having a significant influence over an athletes final decision making.

3.6) Who needs to follow the recruiting schedule?

It is primarily the coach’s responsibility to follow the recruiting schedule, but it’s important for athletes to understand the different periods as well. For example, being aware so that you don’t have any visits scheduled during a dead period, where you wouldn’t be able to meet or talk to the coach. Knowing these periods will help athletes maximize their contact opportunities to effectively be recruited.

4) Search for Colleges

4.1) The College Search

Once you have figured out the things that are really important to you, it is time to start searching for schools that will check all of the boxes for your college experience. There are many ways to conduct your college search, and it may take some time researching to narrow down your top choices.

4.2) College Search Tools

4.3) College Board

One of the most useful resources to find colleges is the College Board Search, where you find information on nearly every college in the United States. The key different to Internespo is that College Board offers an overview of all schools, regardless of its sport programs. On Internespo, you currently only find Colleges that have a Men’s Soccer Program.

On both websites you can filter for key criteria that you are looking for in a school. For instnance, you can filter for your sport,  the type of school (private or public), the size of  its student body, the location, as well as extra activities offered. Lastly, you can filter for costs to find schools that meet your budget.

4.4) College Match

Another great resource for the beginning of your college search is to use College Match, which is basically a quiz of ‘filters’ that apply to you, to help provide a list of colleges that meet all your guidelines.

4.5) Search based on Athletics

For some athletes, the college search is focused solely on the athletic side of a school. If you want to be a part of one of the best teams in the NCAA Division I, then a good starting point would be to research the top performing teams from the latest NCAA Championships to compile a list before researching those schools further.

Search based on Location and Academics: If you are not sure which schools can play at, you may want to start researching schools via College Locations or academically ranked programs and see which ones you are interested in, and then look into the sports teams and their rosters to see if you could match up to the current players on the teams.

Tip – Where did your teammates go?
  • A good way to find schools you could potentially play at, would be to look at past teammates or competitors you matched up with, and where they went on to play in college.
  • This can help to see programs that could be a good fit for you athletically, and provide a starting point for finding other colleges at a similar level.

4.6) Make a List

The most important thing in your college search is to make a list. Identity the colleges you are interested in, and label the pros and cons of them all. This will help you keep organized as you do your research.

4.7) Make a backup List

Additionally, it is important to have a backup list, this would be a few schools that you are most likely to be accepted too, and could choose if you aren’t accepted or can’t afford your top picks. But make sure your backup schools are still ones that you would be happy to attend (ie. desirable location, etc.)

5) Get noticed by Coaches

5.1) Create Recruiting Profiles

Gaining exposure to college coaches can be difficult for everyone, even for top athletes in high school. That’s why athletes should create recruiting profiles and highlight videos that will make it easy for coaches to evaluate them.

There are many different recruiting platforms that athletes can use to create a profile. However it is generally recommended for an athlete to use free platforms to create profiles to optimize chances of being recruited. Additionally, an athlete can always reach out to coaches via email to see if they are interested. Certainly for different sports, this process can vary. For example, track athletes usually are able to showcase their talent simply by emailing a coach their best marks and finishes in events.

5.2) Create your Highlight Video

An important part of your recruiting profile is your highlight video. A way for you to showcase your talent in a short video and gain exposure to more college coaches. Your highlight video should include clips from a game or practice that show your best plays, skills and talent. Depending on your sport, you may want to showcase different things (you can easily find online what coaches are looking for specifically in your sport).

You may need to think ahead about having enough good film to use to create your highlight video. In your sophomore and junior years you should ask your coaches if film is already being taken of all your games, or if you should get someone to film. Collecting enough footage is important so you have more highlights to select from and combine.

The summer after your junior year is a great time to start creating your highlight video so you have it ready going into your senior year. Some athletes may think putting together a video is difficult, but both iMovie and windows moviemaker are great platforms to simply edit the transitions between clips and add labels to identify yourself in the clips.

5.3) What college coaches are looking for:

  • Did the athlete make a smart tactical decision, or just simply take advantage of a mistake?
  • Good sportsmanship and attitude
  • Coaches will care just as much about work ethic and attitude as they do about performance

5.4) Key Points for your Highligh Video

1. Sport Specific: Depending on your sport you should include different types of footage. For sports like soccer, football, and basketball, in-game footage is very important. But for other sports like baseball, you may just want to show technical skills.

2. Keep it Short: Coaches are very busy so it’s important to keep your highlight videos between 3 and 4 minutes. Some coaches may only watch for about 20-30 seconds, so it’s important to put some of your best clips first.

3. Identify Yourself: It’s very important to identify yourself in the video using labels, so the coach can quickly see who you are in the start of the play and follow your moves. Additionally don’t forget to include a picture of yourself and some stats so a coach remembers you.

4. Showcase Level of Play: It’s easy to look like a good player when you are playing against poor competition. Try and showcase clips where you shined against good competition and highlight the level of play in your video.

5. Good Quality: Make sure your video is of high quality. If you can, try and get film from a nice camera and avoid iphone shots. You may even think about buying a film camera with other teammates to share and have for your own videos. *Although a lot of high schools programs will already do this.

6. Link to full length games: Your video should contain small clips and quickly transition between them, showcasing your best plays. However you can also provide coaches with links to full length games if they want to watch a bit more of your play throughout a game.

6) Visit Colleges and Universities

6.1) Unofficial Visits

With a recent rule change by the NCAA, athletes are not allowed to arrange an unofficial visit with an athletic department until August 1st of their junior year.

This rule was implemented to prevent athletes going on unofficial visits as early as their freshman year, and coaches using the opportunity to begin making scholarship offers in their meetings pre-maturely. Of course athletes and their families can visit campuses whenever they please, which is a great way to get familiar with the campus and city, take tours of the buildings and dorms, and get a feel for what it would be like to live there for 4 years. But the key here is that athletes are not allowed to have any recruiting conversations with the coach while on campus.

August 1st of your Junior year: Once it is August 1st of an athletes junior year, they may plan unofficial visits with the athletic department. Now they can set up meetings with the coaches, tour the athletic facilities, meet the team, and talk with the coaches about scholarships. These visits however, are financed by the athlete and/or athletes family. The advantage of unofficial visits is you can take as many as you would like and they give a great preview to what life would be like as a student-athlete.

6.2) Official Visit

An official visit is when any part of the visit is financed by the school. Coaches usually save these visits for top recruits, so getting an invitation is a big step in the recruiting process. Additionally, the NCAA has outlined guidelines for official visits. According to new rules, D1 recruits can begin taking official visits starting August 1st before their junior year of high school.

6.3) Official Visit Rules

    • Athletes visiting Division I schools are only allowed to take 5 official visits, with a limit of one visit per school. Athletes visiting DII and DIII schools are limited one per school as well, but can take as many official visits as they are offered.
    • The school can pay for the transportation to and from the campus, lodging throughout the visit, three meals per day, and tickets to a home sports event. This is the maximum amount programs can pay for your visit, some programs will finance all of these things, while others may only be able to finance a small portion of your trip.
    • Each official visit may be up to 48 hours long, or the span of one weekend.
    • Official visits are not allowed to occur during recruiting dead periods.

6.5) What Happens on an Official Visit?

What its like to be an athlete: Official visits give an athlete an inside look into what life will be like as a student-athlete. It is during this time that it’s important for an athlete to familiarize themselves with the campus and ask themselves if they would enjoy living there for four years.

Campus Tour: While every official visit may be different, typically a visit will consist of a campus tour, touring the athletic facilities, visiting some of the athletes dorms/houses, sitting in on a class with one of the athletes, watching team practice, eating in the schools cafeteria, hanging out with members of the team, meeting with academic advisors, and meeting with the coaching staff.

Follow-up: After every visit, it is crucial to follow up with a thank you note, expressing your gratitude for their time and telling them your favorite parts of the visit. This will show you are a thoughtful and courteous athlete, and help keep you top of mind as they assemble their roster.

6.4) Key Points to Remember

1. Athletes must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center before taking an official visit: It is advised athletes register in their sophomore year, so coaches know you would be eligible to compete at their school, and can then invite you on a visit.

2. Send the admissions office your transcript and standardized test scores: Even if you haven’t submitted an official application to the school yet, this step helps the admission office ensure you meet the standards of the school, and can help to show what kind of academic aid you might be eligible for so coaches can then make athletic scholarship offers on your visit.

3. Be prepared for receiving an offer during the visit: Offers are not guaranteed during official visits, but if they do happen, it is good to prepare on how you will respond. If the school is your top choice, you might want to consider agreeing to the offer as soon as possible to lock in your spot on the roster. However, if you have multiple schools on your list and want to continue pursuing other options, you can politely say you are going to discuss it with your parents, and ask the coach when the offer will expire.

4. Be prepared to ask questions: During an official visit you will have time to ask as many questions you would like, so be prepared to take advantage of this opportunity.

5. Parents are invited to go on official visits: For parents that decide to join the recruit on an official visit, the school can pay for three meals per day and tickets to a home game. While the school will pay for the athletes transportation to the school, they can only pay for the parents transportation to and from campus if they are traveling in the same car as the recruit.

Flights and separate bus or train tickets can not be purchased for parents. It is crucial for parents to allow the athlete to be the focus of the experience, allowing the athlete to ask most of the questions.

7) Sign-up for Camps

7.1) Get Exposure through Camps, Combines & Tournaments

Coaches typically receive many emails and highlight videos, which can sometimes make it difficult for athletes to get noticed by the best programs. However, a very effective way of getting exposure would be through attending camps and showcases that are held by coaches of the school’s that you’re interested in. This may not be applicable to every sport, or every school, but nonetheless there are many different ways to try and boost your exposure, as it is of much more value for a coach to see you play in person.

7.2) College Camps

There are many college camps, sometimes called “showcases” that are put on across the U.S. throughout the year. Typically they are held on campuses at universities and hosted by the coaches. This is a great way for athletes to find the camps at schools they may be interested in, and showcase their skills directly in front of the coach. However, coaches will also pay attention to the athletes attitude and how coachable they are throughout the camp, which could be the extra boost for an athlete to get a scholarship. Keep in mind college camps can sometimes be invite-only.

> View College Camps listed on an Internespo College Profile

7.3) Combines

Combines are held more specifically to showcase athleticism. They will usually involve more conditioning exercises that can showcase speed, strength, and skill. The great thing about combines, is that they are usually open to anyone, which gives athletes the opportunity to get initial exposure to college coaches.

7.4) Tournaments

Tournaments are typically put on by 3rd parties but can bring athletes together to play against each other while college coaches watch. Additionally, high school athletes will typically play in tournaments with their team where there are also chances of being exposed to college coaches who choose to attend big tournaments.

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