How to get Recruited

Getting recruited is rarely a fairytale story. It doesn’t just happen to you. The recruiting process is a complex, winding journey that is directed largely by the student-athlete. The more you know about the recruiting process—and the more effort you put into getting the results you want—the better chance you have to fulfill your dream of competing at the college level. The good news is that many have gone through this complicated process before you, and there are many resources available to make it less overwhelming.

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When does the Recruiting Process Start?

Recruiting is starting earlier and earlier each year, and it’s no secret that top athletic programs are leading the charge.  They look for freshman who have varsity or elite club experience, were ranked as a top-tier recruit at a tournament or showcase or received prestigious awards.  If this is you, you’re probably ready to start the recruiting process as a freshman.  For athletes who hit thier stride later in their sophomore year, this could be a better time to get the process going.  In most cases, we advise that athletes start the recruiting process before their junior year.  

Think of it this way:  If you want to compete at the NCAA DI or DII level, the sooner you can confidently start the recruiting process, the better off you will be.  However, if you are a late bloomer or just not sure you want to make the commitment to compete in college, it is OK to wait a little longer.  If you do decide to wait, make sure you are willing to put in the extra work during crunch time, and you are comfortable with playing in a lower tier program.

Many families decide to delay the start of their athlete’s recruiting because they think that recruiting starts with contacting college coaches. And, they argue, their athlete just isn’t ready to take that step. However, here’s so much more that athletes need to do before they begin reaching out to coaches. We’ve outlined the research and groundwork that families need to establish at the beginning of the recruiting process to ensure they are set up for success. It’s never too early to start educating yourself about the recruiting process and learning how to get recruited.


Understand the recruiting funnel

Understanding how to get recruited starts with learning how college coaches look at recruiting. Think of the process like a funnel. At the top of the funnel, thousands and thousands of potential recruits of various levels are tossed in. Coaches begin initial evaluations—focusing on basic requirements like height, weight, grad year and position. Then, coaches send out correspondence to those they’ve identified as potential fits to see if there’s mutual interest. The funnel is beginning to narrow. Evaluations continue with the smaller class of potential recruits, which narrows it down even further. Near the bottom of the funnel, coaches are inviting recruits on official visits and extending offers.

Learn about different division levels

Once you’ve determined your level of interest, talent and expectations surrounding college athletics, it’s important to consider the various division levels available to compete in:

ncaa Division i

This is the highest level of college athletics and, thus, the most competitive. DI schools typically have large budgets, expensive facilities, and the student-athletes are expected to train and travel extensively.


ncaa division ii

While still a competitive division, DII athletes are provided more balance in their lives, as training and competition aren’t as intense. Scholarships are also offered at this level.


No athletic scholarships are offered for DIII student-athletes, but there are many other forms of financial aid. The competition levels are still very high, but practice seasons are shorter, and there’s more of an academic focus.


A much smaller community than the NCAA—with a little over 250 schools—the NAIA is a great option for student-athletes who love their sport but are looking for a smaller or private college, or a specific major.


Junior college (JUCO) is a good option for the student-athlete looking to get a sense of what college athletics are like at a two-year institution before transferring to a four-year college. Many student-athletes compete at the JUCO level because they are working on their NCAA eligibility or are trying to save money before transferring to a four-year college.

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