The recruiting process can be complicated and intense—even for college coaches. They are responsible for evaluating hundreds or even thousands of talented student-athletes every year, choosing only a select few for their rosters. If it sounds like an impossible task, you’re not far off. However, coaches have the recruiting process down to a science. They know what they are looking for and how to find it.
We’ve outlined how coaches evaluate athletes so you can adjust your recruiting strategy based on what they are looking for.
How are recruits performing right now?
First things first: College coaches need to know how competitive you are at the high school level. To determine your performance, they look at a few different things:
- Your highlight video: For most sports, your video is the best place to showcase your talent. While it’s tempting to make your tape flashy with special effects and music, it’s better to stick with the basics. Start with your best plays that show off your athleticism. If you’re going to include a breakaway, make sure there aren’t other players catching up with you. Also, resist the urge to zoom in and put the entire focus on you. Coaches want to see how you moved within the context of the play. Ask your high school or club coach for advice on plays you should include in your highlight video. They will have a great understanding of which plays show off your best attributes as an athlete.
- Your performance against other college-bound athletes: Coaches struggle to interpret recruits’ performance related to their competition. An athlete from a small high school might be a super star in his conference but could struggle against recruits from a powerhouse school.
Insider tip: Let coaches know when you’ll be playing against other college recruits. Not only is this a great reason to reach out to a coach, but they’ll appreciate the opportunity to watch multiple athletes in one game.
What is the recruit’s potential to keep improving?
Apart from how talented you are right now, coaches need to be able to predict how well you’ll compete in college. To assess this, coaches will review:
- Your build and size: Are you still developing? Does your body build and size make you more qualified for a different position or event at the college level? Coaches will project how your body build compares to current college athletes, how much growing you still have to do and how that correlates with their roster needs.
- Your coachability and determination: Competing at the college level requires that athletes are willing to learn new systems, new skills and work with different team members. Your willingness to adapt to this environment is essential to college coaches. To determine coachability, college coaches will reach out to your high school or club coach, as well as analyze your attitude during games.
- Your training schedule: Your amount and type of training will affect how coaches view your potential to improve in college. If you’re already training at the level of current college athletes, coaches may take this as a sign that you’ve reached your peak performance already. Athletes who are under-trained can be seen as having more potential for improvement at the next level.
Insider tip: Show coaches your athletic progression—let them know that you’ve been improving continually each year. Give coaches a list of your top 5 best times and the dates you achieved them, so they can see that you haven’t plateaued.
Will the recruit be responsible enough to adjust to college life and stay academically eligible?
Going to college is a huge transition for athletes, and some handle the change better than others. While coaches anticipate that an adjustment period is required, they need to trust that their athletes will be able to handle their responsibilities, including staying academically eligible. To predict your ability to adjust to the college setting, coaches will evaluate:
- Your current GPA: Many coaches use the rule of 0.5, which means that your GPA will be 0.5 less in college than in high school. In other words, keep your GPA up in high school to show coaches you can manage the college workload.
- Your social media accounts: Believe it or not, coaches really do look at athletes’ social media accounts. There are countless stories of athletes’ who lost their offers because they posted inappropriate content. Coaches don’t want to worry that a recruit will cause trouble or misrepresent the university, and an inappropriate Facebook account is a red flag.
- Your emails and phone calls: Are you relying on your parents or high school coach to do all your coach outreach? If you aren’t managing your own recruiting process, start taking the reins now! If your parents or coach handle everything for you, coaches will see that as sign that you are not a responsible adult. They will worry that you may not be able to adjust to the demands of a college life.