Here is your Recruiting Roadmap
How do I get there from here?
If you truly want to continue in sports at the college level on a scholarship program then you must adopt a focused mindset: from your freshman year on your part time job will be creating a marketing program for yourself. Yes, you are an athlete and a student. But until you become accepted into the college of your dreams you will also be a marketing firm and your company is YOU.
– Student Athletes have the opportunity to set themselves up for life. What they do today will affect them in their retirement because they can use athletics to get a better education. This is more than sports.
Start the Process Early
– College recruiting begins in your freshman year. Thus, it is important to start marketing yourself as soon as possible. This includes building an online profile, collecting and editing video footage, news articles, references and reaching out to recruiters, sponsors and college coaches.
Rarely do Coaches Discover Athletes
– Spend as much effort on marketing yourself as you do on conditioning your body. Receive better opportunities through a better advertising package.
– Do everything you can to win over your high school, travel team and club/showcase coaches in order to receive better recommendations and get you to better colleges.
Make It Easy, Digital and Credible
– The easier you make it for a college coach to view your talents the better your chance of being recruited. So put your edited reel and profile online and on an easy to navigate DVD. Only after they have looked at your video will they decide to see you live.
– College coaches evaluate student athletes on video (tape, DVD or online) that they have received from credible sources. In other words, they are not spending their energy going to games or viewing unexpected video. You must have your network refer you to the college coaches in addition to sending video.
Expand Your Search
– Most students dream of playing for the biggest schools in the country not realizing that almost 2000 schools offer scholarships. If you are not in the top1% of student athletes then you should spread your wings and apply to schools that realistically meet your education and athletic abilities. The key is getting a quality education with sports as the conduit.
Manage Your Opportunity
– You should solicit help from your school, club coaches and travel team mentors. Collect as many written references as possible and exploit your coach’s network (with their blessing). It doesn’t hurt to ask and you will need as many credible references as you can find.
– Realize that it is you, the student athlete, and your family who are going to acquire the scholarship, and not your coach. The harder you work and the more you prepare the luckier you will be.
– Qualifying your potential schools is the best way to up your batting average. By “qualifying your schools” we mean ones that have athletic programs you are best suited, in parts of the country you want to live and with a campus whose educational system interests you (remember, you are not always participating in sports). Additionally, you should consider the social aspects and city vs. rural conditions of the each potential school.
– In regards to athletics, through researching, speaking with your high school coaches and camp mentors- and being realistic with your abilities- you will be able to apply to the right programs that need your skills as the best fit
– What level do you qualify for? Are you in the top 1% of all athletes country-wide or are you applying to a Top 10 school when you really are best suited for Division III? It is important to close some doors and save energy and resources by having a professional evaluation conducted by your coach or third party recruiting specialist.
The Ultimate Makeover: Behave
– By the nature of the beast athletes are aggressive, competitive and focused. Manners, following protocol, great grades and being respectful of other athletes, coaches and the system are equally as important. Complete your makeover by being a well-rounded, polite and educated individual.
– Additionally, excel at your camps and showcases and have a all-star year on the field or court
Applying To Colleges
– We recommend applying through a two pronged approach:
o Target 10 – 15 of your top priorities (again, be realistic about schools that you like and that you qualify). Some of these schools should have relationships with your coaches and reference base and can contact ahead of time on you behalf.
o Blanket 50 additional, qualified schools
Communication, Communication, Communication
The secret is to be in front of coaches via email and written letters as much as possible within the proper protocol. In other words, be persistent while following reasonable guidelines (and please have a third party read your communication emails or letters before sending but DO NOT have parents write the letters. The words must be in the language of the student).
– Here is our suggested communication game plan:
o First, send a simple, well written, two paragraph letter (mail or email) to the coach from each school on your Top 10 – 15 list requesting information on their program.
o Once you receive the package send a thank you email or letter. Again, keep it short and sweet.
o One week later, fill out the forms you received and include a professional looking, customized, three-paragraph cover letter that sets you apart from other applicants. Include information that indicates you are a well-rounded adult.
o DO NOT SEND REFERENCE LETTERS. Instead, indicate on the form that references will follow.
o One to two weeks later send most of your reference letters with a one paragraph cover letter.
o One to two weeks later send a schedule of your athletic performances (do not include practices). Try to create these schedules one season ahead of time (send them your spring schedule in the winter). Make it easy for them to attend by including dates, times and addresses.
o Follow that up a few weeks later with an updated schedule and more references and news articles.
o Finally, if it is the right time of the recruiting season (not the playing season) contact the coaches by requesting a one on one meeting and/or college campus tour. Remind them that you are interested in the school as an education institution as well as the sports programs.
o After attacking your top 10 – 15 choices, repeat the above sequences for the other 50 qualified schools.
– It is one thing to sing your praises, it is quite another to have someone else do it on your behalf. In order to establish your credibility you must have it done by as many third party experts as possible- as many people in power as you can find: coaches, camp directors, travel team mentors, teachers, faculty, community organizers. Anyone who can establish you as an athlete, scholar and great human.
– Include all your press (newspaper clippings, TV news spots) when you send references.
Travel Teams, Showcases and Camps
Note about extracurricular sports organizations: Conduct your due diligence before signing up. Many companies are in business to make money, not find students a college program (no matter what the brochure might say) and will accept any athlete who pays the admission fee. Most scouts avoid these camps in favor of the ones that only accept students that meet strict ability standards.
Here is how you can determine the best camps and showcases:
– Know the attendance number. If a camp is projecting 500 athletes then they are too big. Additionally, discover how many recruiters to attendees will be on hand and do the math. Are you going to a camp with a 10-1 shot or 4-1? The better your odds the better your chances.
– Find camps and showcases with the best coaches and reputation. Many summer programs can tout a great ratio of coaches to students. But do they have the right coaches? By doing a little research you can find out how successful camps are at becoming the springboard to college scholarships.
– Additionally, find the camps and showcases that will be attended by the top schools on your list. How? Just ask. Write the coach from each school on your priority list and ask them what camps and showcases they will be attending.
Note about recruiting services: We believe that the information in this forum IS a recruiting service that is as effective as any service you can buy. Thus, you and your family, your coaches and mentors, your teachers and clergy are all volunteers in your dedicated approach to finding the perfect situation for your sport(s) and higher education.
RECRUITING MARKETING REQUIREMENTS
Make it Easy for Yourself and Coaches: Create an I-Profile
Why not make everyone’s job easier and more effective with an online video profile? There are many great features that online video profiles can provide:
• The ability to constantly update your information and video
• Keep from producing additional DVDs and mailing them out
• Sending emails with links to your video profile
• Tracking profile hits to your site by coaches
For college coaches:
• Easily managing player videos
• Quick viewing and reviewing video of athletes
• Creating watch lists of favorite athletes
• Searching for athletes that meet their requirements
• Receiving notifications when athletes sign up
Use today’s technology by creating an easy-to-use, professional-looking website (5 pages) that profiles your statistics, achievements, abilities and highlight video reels.
– The home page should be simple in layout, on one screen shot (we should not have to scroll to see everything) and include:
o Your sports photo (closeup)
o Sports and physical statistics
o Academic statistics and community achievements
o Upcoming schedule (update it regularly)
o Contact information
– Page 2 should include your full schedule of games, camps and showcases (again, update it regularly)
– Page 3 should house your two videos:
o Top plays by position (10-15 max)
o Entire game (include every play unedited)
– Page 4 is your reference page
o Include contact information and quotes from your best references and most credible sources
o Make it easy and desirable to contact your references by supplying phone numbers, email addresses and titles
o Include other sports contacts (example: you are a football player but also run track)
o News articles and TV coverage
– Page 5 is your evaluation page
o List all credible evaluations for each position and sport
o Use information from any credible coach
o Include a bio of the referral person
According to Michael Husted with Active Recruiting
“In a recent survey 100% of all college coaches responded that video is VERY important when evaluating talent. Especially when first assessing the athlete… (yet) only 2-3% of student athletes have video readily accessible online for college coaches to view.”
Competition is fierce and the number one way college coaches evaluate athletes is by comparing video demos. The best player may be overlooked because his video is unorganized, of poor quality or too long. We can’t stress enough how important a professional highlight reel will be in obtaining a scholarship.
Follow these best practices when creating your video in order to be seriously considered by your favorite college programs:
– Quality First
o No matter where you obtain your footage you must make sure the quality of the tape is worth viewing. If the tape is too grainy, has obstructions (fans standing in the view), earthquake-like shaking, poor lighting, etc. then you should not use the footage. There are three places to find tape to make your highlight reel:
§ High school game tape
§ Family or friend camcorder
§ Hire a professional
o Make the effort to have a professional highlight reel created from a company that knows sports (wedding editors may not be your best bet). It will be your job to obtain great footage and the editing house to professionally assemble your video and package a great looking marketing piece
– Highlight the Player
o When editing your clips use an arrow or some effect to indicate who you are in each play and the number you are wearing. This effect should be used during a freeze frame before the play continues. The easier you make it for the coach to recognize you the better.
– 10 Second Rule
o Wow the coach in the first 10 seconds of your reel (again, starting with the best play within the position you are being recruited)
o Put your best plays first and, if you play more than one position, organize the clips within each position starting with the position you are being recruited. Example: Tom is being recruited as a quarterback but has great skills at wide receiver and defensive end. He would showcase his top 10 plays at quarterback followed by his top 5 plays at wide receiver followed by his top 5 plays at defensive end.
– Organize The Best Athletic Plays
o DVD’s allow chapters in which you can have separate, individual position highlight reels and full game tape. Use the technology to organize your reels.
o Only include video clips that are scholarship worthy for your position (think Sports Center Highlights) and that show your athletic talent. Throwing a 20 yard touchdown to a wide open receiver, for example, is not as impressive as a 10 yard strike in traffic.
– Use Two Reels
o It is encouraged to have two video reels that will allow an interested coach to see more of your abilities:
§ One would be your top 10 – 20 plays (no more than 4 minutes)
§ The second reel would be all your plays from an entire game (your best game of the year). This reel will be labeled “Unedited” even though it will be highlighting you as the player AND cutting out all the plays that you are off the field.
· Include all the plays- even the ones where you miss a shot or are uninvolved in the action. Coaches want to see your total game presence
– Put it on The Web
o Upload your video onto the web using a service that is easy to connect, easy to use and free of pauses, slow loading time, glitches or dropouts.
– Make it Easy
o When mailing DVD’s, send them in easy to open packages (priority mail), clearly document your contact information and highlight your sports/education and extracurricular achievements and statistics
Things to avoid:
– Highlighting a Full Year
o Do NOT Showcase every play from a particular year. We recommend a video with your top 10 – 20 plays and a full game highlight as described above.
– Avoid special effects:
o Do NOT edit montages set to music, two or three camera angles of the same play, repeating plays, graphics or text over motion, voice analysis.
– No Homemade Look and Feel
o Your first impression is everything. Try to avoid the hand written DVD with unedited footage, the DVD that does not play properly, long moments of tape in between plays, time and date stamp, etc.
– No Hollywood Movie, Either
o On the other hand, try not to be too slick. Spending thousands of dollars on a Hollywood production could also have a negative effect if you are giving the coaches things they are not looking for (fast paced openings set to rock music, voice over interviews, showing the athlete working out, random images, following the action after the play is dead, etc.)