Step 4 – Formulate Your Strategy
Put your plan in place, follow through.
You may be the best Athlete at your school, but if you are not in the top 5% of the nation, then don’t expect NCAA Coaches to come to you. You must formulate your strategy to get on their radar as soon as possible.
The earlier you start the better. You definitely do not want to wait until your senior year. Ideally you should start prepping as you enter your freshman year in high school, and by the time you are entering your junior year, your marketing plan will be in full swing. The NCAA has many rules in place that prohibits college recruiters from contacting high school athletes before June 15 following their Sophomore Year or September 1 of their junior year (depending on the Sport); therefore, having a strategy and campaign in place will put you ahead of the game. See Recruiting Rules here.
By now you have a good idea what level you are suited to play at and which universities you are interested in targeting based. Now it is time for formulate your recruiting strategy. Your strategy will include a mix of many items. Not only will you be focusing on academics and preparing for SATs/ACTs, but you will be creating and keeping your online profile updated, cleaning up and promoting yourself via social media, creating your highlight video, fine tuning your athletic skills, finding and playing in top showcase events and networking at key competitions.
Focus on Academics
Be sure to take your Core Courses (for Div I and II) and focus on getting the best grades possible!
Many student-athletes don’t understand the importance of academics to a college coach. There are many reasons why college coaches want good students on their roster. First, good students may qualify for academic scholarships and can potentially save the athletic department scholarship money. This allows coaches to spread athletic scholarship money out over more players by filling in gaps with academic scholarships. Second, a good GPA and SAT/ACT score indicates to coaches that a student will most likely be able to maintain athletic eligibility. It is also an indication that a student will be able to transition into college life and keep their grades up.
Grades and test scores are an indication of the student’s work ethic and achievement standards. Athletes who put forth the effort in the classroom generally put for the same type of effort on the field. If a coach is considering athletes of similar abilities, guess what the tie-breaker would be? Academics.
Prep for SAT/ACT
The standardized test score has become one of the most important factors for admissions. Most schools will accept both exams when it comes to admission, but in some cases, prefer one over the other. For the schools on your target list, search for their admissions requirements. Start prepping in your Freshman year. Take tests in your Sophomore year so you can retake in your Junior year if necessary.
Update your Online Profile
Your Online Profile is one of the most important tools you can have to maximize your exposure to college coaches. Not only does your online profile give you the ability to promote yourself, and show coaches how serious you are about playing college sports, but it also provides you with a link to your profile that you can use in your marketing strategy that we will talk about later. When coaches receive your email or DM, they can simply click on the link to your profile to get a better understanding of your achievements.
The recruiting industry has shifted with the advancement of new technologies. Old strategies are fading out, and college coaches are now using technology, to see new recruits. An online profile is a necessity now. If you haven’t already done so, you need to create your online profile, (www.allstarrecruits.com/register) to begin showcasing your skills and achievements. An online profile will give you a platform to network with hundreds of college coaches. We will go into more detail in the next chapter.
Think “LinkedIn for College Recruits”
Keep it professional. Think of this as a job hunt!
Social Media: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Social media can have a significant impact on your college recruiting strategy. Nothing is really private anymore since anyone can take a screenshot of a post and share it. Most students have an account on every one of the following platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. In fact, do any young adults actually speak anymore, or has it been replaced by tweeting, posting and sharing? Based on that fact, college coaches are now using social media as a way to research and communicate with potential recruits. Whether you believe it is right or wrong, college coaches will assume that your behavior on social media is an indication of how you would be as a player. For that reason, your actions and habits on social media are very important if you would like to play lacrosse in college. Many college athletic programs actually have someone in charge of reviewing and monitoring the social media counts of prospective athletes. There have been thousands of recruits scratched off recruiting lists based on their social media accounts. If your heart just skipped a beat, don’t panic. Just be sure to clean up what you can and keep it clean moving forward.
Clean it Up
Before you contact any college coaches, you must do an online audit of your social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social networks must be cleared of all content and pictures that could have a negative impact on your image. Remember, college coaches are looking for positive role models for the program. Your image is going to be plastered throughout the institution, on media, their social media, etc. AllStarLAX recommends that you take the ultra-conservative route when it comes to social media. When clearing out content and pictures, remove anything that could be perceived as negative during the recruiting process and add academic and athletic content that highlights your achievements, ability and character. Here are a few tips to help with this effort:
- Review your privacy settings.
- Restrict Tagging. Under Privacy Settings – Timeline- Tagging – Edit Settings – Review Posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline – should be set to “On”
- Delete your own questionable posts
- Delete your own questionable photos
- Untag yourself in undesirable photos that you did not post.
- Choose a professional photo as your profile picture
- Keep your info updated…like your “About Me” or “Favorite Quotes”
- Look over your likes. Take a minute to make sure you’ve only “liked” pages that are recent, relevant and appropriate.
- If you question whether or not it is appropriate, it probably isn’t, so delete it.
Remember, you want a college coach’s first impression of you to be a positive one. It doesn’t matter if you are the best lacrosse player in your county, ultimately, it’s their reputation that on the line. If there’s inappropriate content, pictures or comments, they will see you as a possibility liability and will not waste their time on you. They will move on the next one on their long list!
Create Your Highlight Videos
You will need a few videos for college coaches to view that will highlight your athletic ability and character. A YouTube Channel is the best option for your videos. This allows the coach an easy location to click through and watch all your videos. I would suggest the following:
- Personal Video
- Individual Skills Video
- Game Highlights Video
- References Video
This should be a short video (2-3 minutes) that will allow coaches to get to know you. You could mention:
- Your Name
- High School
- Year of Graduation
- Length of time playing
- Club Team
- GPA and Test Scores
- Athletic highlights
- What qualities you can bring to their program
This video should be short as well and should be you free playing. So maybe it’s you taking the draw or face-off, or you running, passing, shooting or stick skills. If there’s something special that you are good at that sets you apart from others, put it in the video.
If your high school games are being taped and you can get access to those recordings, you should create a 3-4 minute highlight tape. If not, ask parents to send you game clips. Always put your best stuff first and do not zoom in and out. The wider the angle the better. You may only get 30 seconds of a coach’s time.
Reference videos have others highlighting your athletic and academic abilities as well as your character. Coches, teammates, teachers, parents and other teams’ coaches could all be potential reference videos for you. You can provide these individuals with some questions as a guide to get them started. These videos should be 2-3 minutes as well. Just long enough for a very high level overview of you as a player, a student, a teammate.
Fine Tune Your Athletic Skills
Practice, practice, practice. Play at the highest level of club/HS team that you can. Get feedback on where you can improve your skills and work on them. Be personally responsible for setting goals and working on these skills that need improving. Consider working with a personal trainer to improve speed, strength and overall athleticism. Keep nutrition in the mix. Nutrition is a key component of the mix. If there’s no fuel, the car can’t run. If there’s bad fuel, the car may break down on the side of the road. However, if you fuel the car properly and keep up with the maintenance, then it will perform the best.
Play at Top Showcase Events
All events are not created equal. Search AllStarRecruits.com/Events to find a High Profile Event. If you are able to find one at a school you are interested in…that’s even better. Actually, it is imperative to go to the college camps and clinics for the schools that you are interested in. If you don’t find one on AllStarRecruits.com…visit the school’s website and search for “prospect camps”. Attend a showcase event with a purpose and a plan. Make yourself known!
Remember, you do not go to recruiting events to be discovered.
You go to be seen by the coaches that already know about you and want to see more.
As you formulate your strategy, you will be focusing on and fine tuning several things at the same time. It is important for you to remain organized. Subscribing to the AllStarRecruits Playbook will keep you on track throughout the process.