When it comes to the collegiate recruiting process, it’s important for high school players and their families to have as much information as possible. It’s important to remember that the sport of lacrosse should be fun to play. If you are joining a team only to get recruited then you are most likely missing out on the opportunity to develop your skills. With that being said, the Hilltopper Lacrosse Program has helped over seventy lacrosse players join NCAA affiliated teams. Through our conversations with various college coaches we have come up with five main points about the college recruiting process and have also created a recruiting timeline to help guide players and families.
5 Key Collegiate Recruiting Points:
- Be proactive! All too often players will wait on collegiate coaches to make contact with them. While coaches are known to contact recruits after recruiting events, it’s on the players themselves to make sure that coaches know they are interested. We suggest making a list of 10 to 20 schools that a player is interested before each season and sending a brief email to the coaches of those schools indicating their interest and giving the coach the player’s schedule. Often, when a coach receives contact from a prospect they will make an effort to see the prospective athletes if they will be at the same event.
- Be Realistic! Many times high school players see themselves as a division one lacrosse player without knowledge of what a collegiate coach is actually looking for. The NCAA calculates that only 2.9% of high school lacrosse players will play at the Division I level. Similarly, the total percentage of high school players who go on to play collegiate lacrosse is only 12.3%. Although only a select few players go on to play at the sports highest level, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t an opportunity for you. Be willing to speak with your coaches and ask them for their honest opinion of where you could play. Don’t be afraid to aspire to play at the sports highest levels but understand that it’s ok if you don’t make it. There are many Division II, III and NAIA teams that play at similar levels as other Division I teams.
For more info on the probability of playing college sports visit: NCAA Likeliness of Playing a College Sport
- Don’t Say No (At least not right away)! The recruiting process can open your eyes to new possibilities that you may not have thought of before. While you may have a dream school in mind it’s important to keep your options open and see what opportunities present themselves. It’s important that both players and parents don’t rule out a school based on size, cost, facilities or other factors without doing some research first. If a school may be out of a families price range, ask the coaching staff what types of financial aid is available. Similarly, if you don’t think a school would be the right fit for you, visit the campus and make sure that’s the case. It may be that you enjoy the people who attend the school and could actually see yourself as a student their. Don’t allow your preconceptions make the decision for you. Finally, if you do decide that you don’t like a college, let the coaching staff know respectfully. Send them an email or give them a call thanking them for their interest and let them know their school isn’t the right fit. It’s always best to not burn bridges for yourself or your teammates if you change your mind later.
- Enjoy putting in the work! Don’t get so bogged down with where you want to go to school that you forget to keep working hard. If you want to play in college remember that you need put in the hours and the effort to achieve your goals. The best players are the ones who never stop wanting to get better. While there is no way for a college coach to evaluate how much time a player puts in during the offseason, it’s normally apparent on the field who puts in the effort outside of the game. Remember, even committed players need to keep working on their game so they don’t get passed over by the other players coming into the same program.
- Be a good citizen! If you are lucky enough to be recruited to a collegiate team know that the coaching staff will do their research. They’ll make sure to ask your coaches, teachers or anyone else they know in your area about you. In the event that a coach finds out a player has a personality flaw, the recruitment runs a strong risk of ending right there. Hopefully it should seem redundant by now but remembering to keep your grades up, stay out of trouble and treat others the way you would like to be treated is key to making a good impression with college coaches. Sometimes coaches won’t just watch the way you play in a game, rather if a coach has strong interest they may watch your body language and how you interact with your teammates when you aren’t playing to see if you will fit in with their program.
Recruiting Timeline for Players and Families:
- Begin weight training if you haven’t already. The Ages of 13 and 14 are the ideal ages to start training your body to be an elite athlete. By starting early you will get a leg up on the competition.
- Focus on learning elite fundamentals. Often players don’t learn that the way they play won’t translate to college until it is too late.
- Shoot for 10,000. Know that it takes 10,000 repetitions to master a skill. Find a way to get to this number and play as much lacrosse as you can.
- If you are playing on a select team, focus on learning the team’s system so you know what to do when college coaches eventually start to watch you.
- After your spring season have a realistic conversation with your coach about where you could potentially play in college. Based on your coaches advice make a list of 10-20 schools that you could see yourself playing at. Write these schools and let them know your summer schedule. Attach film of yourself and give them any other information that you fine relevant.
- Know that coaches can’t communicate with you until September of your Junior year but that they will be watching. Put in the work during the summer and try to be seen.
- Communicate with your high school and club coaches about your interest in not just college but college lacrosse as well. By your sophomore year you should be able to have an idea of the level of college play that you can attain.
- Continue to focus on playing well with your team so you are at your best when recruiters come to see you play.
- The summer before your junior year find one or two recruiting showcases to attend on top of the elite recruiting events that select team plays in. This may allow you extra exposure in a different environment.
- Make sure to communicate with college coaches about your schedule but know that Division I college coaches can begin communicating with you after September 1st.
- Keep your coaches in the loop about communication you have. We suggest cc’ing Carolinahilltoppers@gmail.com on initial communication to schools, which allows us to help follow up on your behalf.
- Begin to put together film of your play from your spring, fall, and summer seasons. By the end of your junior season you should have 3-4 minutes of film to share with coaches.
- Make an effort to get on campus at the schools you are interested in and communicating. This can be by attending college prospect days or team camps.
- Set up a time to talk with your club coaches about recruiting. We offer family consultations and will help you formulate a plan for the best way to approach the college decision process.
- Consider setting up a recruiting profile with an online service. We have mixed feelings about these and feel that they offer mixed results and they can be expensive. However, if you are wanting the maximum amount of potential exposure it may be worth it.
- Realize that the vast majority of lacrosse players won’t commit during this time frame and don’t shut down if this is the case for you.
Summer before your senior year:
- Have a copy of your film, transcripts and relevant test scores ready to share with potential college coaches.
- If you haven’t already, start to send emails to college coaches that include why you are interested in their school, all of the information above, and your schedule for the summer.
- Find a few showcases or prospect days that fit the type of schools you are trying to attend.
- Before attending summer tournaments, showcases, or prospect days, check to see if the list of colleges attending are online. Email them before the event (again including all relevant info above) that you are interested in their program and will be at the same event.
Senior Year Fall/Winter:
- Keep communicating with college coaches. The summer going into a players senior year is the time when most collegiate coaches will be watching and looking to fill their next class.
- Create a new highlight film from your summer and fall seasons to share with coaches. The more up to date your film can be the better.
- Continue to visit college campuses and see how you fit in at those schools. We suggest spending the night on campus with the team as one of the best ways to get the full feel of your potential fit with the college program.
- Make sure to do your research and when the time comes and you feel confident, celebrate the commitment!
- Don’t quit working and know that the commitment is only the beginning. You now have four more years of lacrosse to play and want to make the biggest impact possible when you finally get on campus.
- Remember to thank your parents, family members and coaches. While you have done the physical labor, keep in mind that your support network has done a lot to get you where you are. Be sure to thank them and let them share in your success.