With technology, social media and options outside of high school sports, it’s easier than ever for small-school athletes to get recruited.
Powerhouse high school sports programs tend to hog the spotlight. And for athletes at smaller high schools, this can make recruiting a little tougher.
Most college coaches just don’t have the time or the resources to travel to every high school in the country looking for recruits. So, they tend to go back to programs they’ve developed relationships with time and again, knowing they usually turn out good athletes every year.
Even athletes who are the best on their team — or All-Conference and All-Area — can fall through the cracks. This is where technology, talent and persistence must come into play for small-school athletes.
Here are the steps athletes from a small high school can take to start getting noticed by college programs:
CREATE A HIGHLIGHT VIDEO THAT SHOWS OFF YOUR RECRUIT’S BEST QUALITIES AS AN ATHLETE
An athlete’s highlight or skills video is the best way to capture a coach’s attention for most sports. Coaches often use video to make initial evaluations of players. Highlight videos should only be about 5-7 minutes at most. Athletes should start with their best plays — don’t “save the best for last!” Most coaches receive around 100 highlight videos a day, so families need to pick the footage they include carefully to make sure their athlete’s video really stands out.
Then, recruits should post their film to their online profile, YouTube and/or Hudl, and send the link to college coaches.
FIND A TRAVEL OR CLUB TEAM IN THE AREA
For many sports like volleyball and soccer, college coaches prefer to recruit from club or travel programs. College coaches scout for athletes at club/travel tournaments because they can see multiple top recruits in just one weekend.
Plus, coaches have the advantage of seeing elite players face off against other top athletes, giving them a better idea of how they will perform against college-level competition.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF RECRUITING TECHNOLOGY — INCLUDING SOCIAL MEDIA — TO GET EXPOSURE TO COLLEGE COACHES
Recruiting has joined the digital age, which is great news for athletes in under-recruited areas. Athletes can create an online recruiting profile (like the ones offered through NCSA) and upload their highlight film, stats, academic information and more. College coaches then search for recruits to find those who would be a good fit for their team. This helps coaches by making it easier to find recruits, and it’s also beneficial for athletes who normally wouldn’t have exposure to college coaches.
Social media also plays a crucial role in recruiting. Athletes can DM coaches on Twitter, and, as an extra bonus, coach response times tend to be quicker through Twitter than email.
Coaches also use social media to get a better sense of a recruit’s personality and interests. This is the perfect opportunity for recruits to showcase their athletic skills, highlight videos and sportsmanship.
However, social media can backfire for recruits who post inappropriate content. Keep it clean!
ATTEND CAMPS OR SHOWCASES HOSTED BY COACHES
For many sports, college coaches will host one- or two-day weekend camps for high school athletes. This is a great opportunity for recruits to learn from college coaches and get to know a school’s coaching staff. Athletes should always introduce themselves to coaches and make a good impression.
After attending the camp or showcase, athletes should email or DM coaches through social media to thank them for the opportunity. Even better: give them a call. Capitalize on the momentum of the camp.
MAKE SURE YOU’RE ACADEMICALLY ELIGIBLE TO COMPETE IN COLLEGE
Coaches can’t take a chance on recruits who don’t keep their grades up. Instead, they look for athletes with solid academics. These recruits might qualify for academic scholarships, and the coach can save some of his athletic money for other quality players.
Recruits should double-check the NCAA eligibility requirements to ensure they’re on track from a core course requirement standpoint.
With technology, social media and options outside of high school sports, it’s easier than ever for small school athletes to get recruited. Prospects can use recruitment as personal motivation to be their best athlete and student, so college coaches can’t afford to overlook them.