The clock starts in September for student-athletes. If they are planning on playing college sports, there is no time to waste. Parents who know this, and hear the ominous ticking are often overwhelmed. "Every athlete needs a game plan for recruiting success," says Director of Recruiting for NCSA, Randy Taylor, "Unfortunately, most recruits are unsure which steps to take and when to take them." Since you only have one chance to get it right, do not leave this to chance.
The following breakdown gleaned from NCSA and personal experience with my own sons, can keep your student-athlete on the right track throughout their high school years. Aside from maintaining grades, a student looking to play college sports needs to research athletic bench points for their sport. Set goals and continue working toward these goals.
Recruiting planning for high school athletes by the year
- Tell your guidance counselor your plans. They can make sure your core curriculum matches up with the core courses required.
- Determine the schools you want to pursue. Cast your net wide, while looking for the right blend of academics, athletics and social life. The NCSA recommends filling out an Initial Target List with 25 schools; 5 Division I, 5 DII, 5 DIII, 5 NAIA, and 5 Junior Colleges.
- Plan on introducing yourself to college coaches throughout the year.
- Maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average. Take advantage of pre-ACT and pre-SAT classes to give you an edge on these important exams.
- Cra Target List to include more schools across all divisions. Continue introducing yourself to new coaches. Keep track of all correspondence in an organized fashion. A large binder or file box will go a long way in making this process go smoothly.
- Now is the time to start really building a relationship with the college coaches. Introduce yourself with a resume containing your high school sports info, academic info, and pictures. Do not worry about bothering them, you are simply making their job easier.
- Continue working on your athletic goals. Consider joining a club team outside of high school, if you haven't already, to provide additional training opportunities and experience.
- Review core course worksheet with your guidance counselor. Preparing for a DI school leaves the door open for all the rest.
- Update your Target List. Rank the schools by your interest and how interested the coaches seem in you. Review the recruiting timeline for each of these schools to be sure you are able to make the target dates.
- Ask all your coaches for references. Keep all their information in with your college file.
- Complete FAFSA form. Be sure your ACT and SAT scores are routed to the NCAA Eligibility Center by marking "9999" in the code box on the form.
- The Target List will have naturally narrowed down by senior year. There should be at least five schools that are serious contenders. Schedule visits with the schools. Ask coaches where you stand on their recruiting list. You can contact new coaches to inquire if they are still recruiting at this point.
- Be prepared for scholarship negotiation. Know what you will say if an offer is presented to you during a visit.
More by Sylvie Branch: