How Do You Know If You Are Being Recruited?
The college athletic recruitment process can be complicated and full of ambiguity, but being aware of whether or not you are being recruited should be clear to identify. Only a small fraction of high school athletes are recruited by NCAA athletic programs. However, being able to decipher between different types of communication from coaches and different levels of recruitment are important to understanding where on a recruitment list you may lie.
Some of the tell-tale signs of being recruited by an NCAA coach are receiving direct and personalized calls or letters at home about how you would be a good fit for their program, having a coach come watch you compete at your home field/court/track/pool, or receiving an invite to take an official visit at the college campus. While this is not an exhaustive list, it is helpful to understanding the level of contact that coaches have with players they are actively recruiting.
While it may seem confusing at first to understand the different rules and intricacies of coach communication, it is important to stay positive and motivated throughout the process as you build relationships with coaches. Each program has a different protocol for recruiting athletes, but the signs outlined below are a helpful guide to understanding whether you are being actively recruited or not.
Signs That You Are Being Recruited
A College Coach Calls You Directly: There are many different ways a college coach can get in touch with a high school athlete (whether it be through mass emails, letters, by communicating indirectly through their high school or travel coach, by watching them compete and meeting in person, or through a phone call). However, when a college coach calls you directly at your home and has a conversation with you this is usually a sign that they are actively recruiting you. Signs to look out for during these calls is whether they share their personal contact information with you, invite you to visit their college campus, or if they talk about how you are a good fit for the program. The more communication you have with the coach and the more you talk about your potential contributions to the program, the more likely you are being recruited.
It is important to remember that coaches can’t communicate directly with high school athletes until a certain date in their junior year according to NCAA rules. Thus, do not worry if you are a freshman or sophomore and have not received any calls or handwritten letters from coaches. During these earlier years, it is important to keep track of the questionnaires you receive from universities as you may receive more contact from them in the future and want to keep them on your radar.
A College Coach Watches You Compete At Your Home School: If a college coach takes the time to come and watch you compete at your home school this likely means they are recruiting you. If they do so, they will likely speak with you afterwards as well and you can start to begin a relationship or line of communication with the coach.
You are Invited On An Official Visit: There are two types of college visits, official and unofficial. What differentiates the two is that transportation, food, and lodging can be paid for by the college during an official visit. These official visits usually consist of a tour of the campus, a visit with an academic counselor, watching a game, and meeting the current team and coaching staff. These visits are usually 48 hours on a weekend and are a tell-tale sign that you are being recruited.
A College Coach Sends you A Handwritten Or Personal Letter: If a college coach sends you a handwritten letter to your home or a personalized email describing how you would be a good fit for their program you should make sure to respond in a timely manner. Coaches have busy schedules and if they are taking the time out of their day to write to you personally it means that you are likely being recruited.
Signs That A Coach May Be Interested
There are many lines of communication between a college and a player, and while the ones listed above are all strong signs that a coach is recruiting you, the ones listed below may indicate that a coach is interested but that you are not being recruited yet.
A Coach Watches You Play At A Tournament Or Showcase: Coaches put on showcases and go to tournaments to scout players, but if they do not come directly to your home court/field then you are likely not being recruited by them.
A Coach Sends You A Questionnaire: Coaches send out many recruiting questionnaires early in the process to help build their database of possible recruits and see which athletes may be a good fit. Thus, if you receive a questionnaire it is important to complete it, but it does not mean you are necessarily on the college’s recruitment list.
You receive Letters And Emails From The Admissions Office: Any communication from a college’s admissions office is separate from recruiting communication. Thus, if you receive any letters or emails that are not specifically from the coach it does not mean you are being recruited.
You Are Invited To A Camp: Camps are ways for coaches and programs to recruit student athletes, but also generate revenue and support their program. While many camps are named with status symbols like “elite” or “advanced,” invitations to participate in these are not a sign that you are being actively recruited. You should respond to these camp invites and attend if you are interested in the school, but do not feel obliged to attend all camps that you are invited to as there are many ways that coaches find their recruits.
How To Maintain Communication With A Coach
Once you begin to be recruited, it is important to start building a relationship and line of communication between you and the coach. The goal of the recruiting process is to find a good coach to player match, and thus regular communication is key. As coaches are busy and have rules they must follow about communicating with students, it is on you to connect with the coaches. Emailing and calling are the most effective lines of communication.
Along with your athletic and academic abilities, it is important to communicate who you are as a person with coaches. In order to re-engage communication with a coach you can update them with any new information that is relevant to them like a new highlight video that you have or an update to your SAT score. Make sure that you remain open and honest with the coach and do not be discouraged if they do not reply as there are many reasons including NCAA restrictions that may prohibit them from responding.
Things to Keep in Mind
Fit Matters: Remember that when coaches talk about how they can see you fitting well with the other players or can see you being an asset to the team this is one of the largest signs that you are being recruited.
Trust the Process: Recruiting is a process in which coaches are trying to find players that are the right match. Thus, if a coach is not recruiting you, don’t be discouraged as it probably would not be a good fit. Likewise, if a coach is recruiting you and gives you an offer but you are not sure the college is a good fit for you keep that in mind.
Personalization is Key: During your high school career you may receive many letters and emails from colleges, but what is key to knowing whether you are being recruited is if the messages are personalized to you and show the coaches effort to build a relationship with you.
Open Communication: While coaches may not be able to communicate with you until you are a junior in high school, you are not limited as to when or how often you communicate with coaches. Thus, you should start early but don’t bombard coaches with emails either. This will help ensure that you stay in the top of coaches minds as they build their recruitment list.