The NCAA has rules LOTS of rules, that govern how coaches are allowed to interact with athletes during the recruiting process. This can be confusing for many athletes and families who are trying to figure out what is and is not allowed, and when to get started actively pursuing college athletic opportunities. For Canadian schools, you will notice recruiting does not need to start as early, nor is it nearly as complicated or regulated.
NCAA regulations dictate that, coaches cannot always reply to your telephone message or email. From the outside it may appear like they are not interested enough to reply, but often they are not allowed! No response does NOT necessarily mean “not interested”!
FAQ: When should we be starting the recruiting process? It’s never too early to start recruiting. We suggest familiarizing yourself with the process, and starting to identify your goals and priorities in grade 9, and beginning the active process of recruiting in your grade 10 year.
Recruiting is a lot of leg work. A lot of follow up. A lot of bragging about yourself, your abilities, and your competitions. Recruiting is most successfully completed over the long haul, and access sport suggests that you begin actively following this process in grade 10.
It is important to know what recruiting activities to pursue in each year of high school in order to successfully follow the recruiting process. Scroll down to see a comprehensive outline of what recruiting activities you should be completing as it relates to your grade in high school.
Recruiting Activities: Grade Nine
- Play your chosen sport at the highest level possible. Participate in high performance training opportunities and your province’s Train to Train program or any additional performance opportunities.
- Play as as many other sports you would like. Get lots of cross training and learn as many skills as possible from a variety of different activities.
- Attend college games, professional games or any other opportunity to see athletes compete at a high level. Pay as much attention to their warmup, routines, and actions on the bench as you do to the on field competition.
- Attend high performance camps, skills development programs and tournaments to expose yourself to a very high level of competition
- Focus on your school work! Work hard in the class room, do your homework and keep your grades up.
- Focus a lot on fundamental skills in your sport. Develop the best hitting, receiving, passing, shooting, ball placement and other techniques you can. Get high level coaching and practice-practice-practice!
- Start to develop a good goal setting and personal accountability routine. See our goal setting links for more information on this
- Focus on learning and practicing your leadership and communication skills. Become a good team mate, learn what you need to motivate and inspire yourself.
Recruiting Activities: Grade Ten
- Enroll in challenging courses at school, take your PSAT or ACT’s
- Research schools that might interest you
- Decide what characteristics are most important to you in a university. Use the Personal Priority Worksheet to help you with this.
- Some things to think about include academic programs, athletic team ranking, size of school, distance from home, location, costs, social life and campus atmosphere etc.
- Identify a list of your top 10-12 Target Schools. This list will continue to change and develop over time, you can use the Target List Worksheet to help you track and organize your list.
- What makes you a top recruit? Begin to create your athletic resume.
- Create a plan for how to be evaluated by coaches (what tournaments, showcases, and camps will you attend, have a recruiting highlight video made) Use the Recruiting Plan Worksheet to assist you with this.
- Send introduction letters to your top ten schools to let them know you are interested in their program, give the coach a link to your online profile, and let them know your upcoming competitions. The Communication Plan resources can teach you what should be in that initial contact letter.
- At this stage, you may contact coaches, but coaches are NOT allowed to contact you at any point to discuss recruiting in any way. You can call them, however they cannot return your call. Coaches are ONLY allowed to respond by mail / email with a athlete questionnaire and information about their summer camp.
- Get your highlight and skills video put together, videos are a very important part of recruiting, especially if you are targeting schools in the United States. This is often the first way for coaches to evaluate you and you want to make a great first impression.
- Following up your initial contact email with a phone call with teams and coaches that you know are at the top of your list. This is a great opportunity to start building your relationship with them! Use the phone call scripts resource to find out what to expect and how to prepare for these phone calls
- Fill out the team’s recruiting questionnaire.
- Send updates to let the coach know of any updated information on your recruiting profile.
- Stay in contact with coaches so they know of upcoming recruiting opportunities. Let them know in advance of any tournaments, camps or showcases you will be attending and invite them to come see you play. these are called performance evaluation opportunities. It is important to note that coaches do not go to tournaments to identify random athletes. Coaches attend tournaments and showcases to watch athletes that have already contacted them prior to the event. Make sure you are contacting your target coaches BEFORE your major competitions with your team, schedule, and jersey number. Your recruiting plan should include a schedule of your upcoming recruiting opportunities.
- Keep studying hard and stay focused in school. All your grades count!
Recruiting Activities: Grade Eleven
- Narrow down your top choice schools to 5 or 6 and continue to follow up with these coaches to show your continued interest. It helps to incorporate your recruiting correspondence into your daily or weekly routine. If this is part of your goal, then it needs to be a priority. Our goal setting resources can help you with your routine, and keep you accountable to your recruiting correspondence.
- Seek out an evaluation from a trusted coach to help you determine where you realistically fit in. This could be in terms of skill level, coaching style, rankings and comfort.
- Review your skills highlight video and make updates to this, especially if you have developed new skills, or are playing at a much higher level this year. If you need assistance with your highlight video, consider working with our video production consultant to get a high impact video produced.
- Communicate with your top schools so they know where to find this video. Share the direct link to your athlete resume.
- Starting September 1st of your grade 11 year, written correspondence is allowed with coaches, this means coaches are finally able to directly reply to your emails with personal and specific information.
- If you are targeting Canadian USports schools, now is the time to email your introductions and express interest in their program for the first time.
- If possible – unofficially visit some of the schools you are interested in. Set up meetings with the coach while you are on campus, and watch the team compete.
- Write your SAT or ACT exam
- Get yourself on a team that is competing in a showcase event – these are tournaments or skills combines that NCAA coaches recruit at.
- Email coaches your tournament schedules including high school, and any high performance teams so they know when there are opportunities to see you play.
- Email coaches your tournament and team training schedules, attend another showcase or competition and make sure to invite coaches to come see you play!
- Retake your SAT/ACT exams if they did not meet the entrance requirements of your top schools.
- Talk to coaches, teachers and employers about getting reference letters.
- Start to determine which teams are serious about you. Coaches will let you know if they are interested or not. If you are unsure, ask them a direct question.
- Continue to narrow down your target list, it’s ok to re-evaluate your list if you are not getting interest from your current targets. Perhaps your academic, athletic or environmental criteria for a target school has changed during the process. Contact any new coaches immediately (a phone call is a good idea)
- Register with the NCAA Eligibility centre if you haven’t already. Complete as much of your eligibility profile as possible.
- Attend summer camps at any of your top schools
- Email coaches updates to your training and high performance tournament schedules including all provincial and national championship tournaments.
- Identify early admission deadlines for your top schools
Recruiting Activities: Grade Twelve
- Start the application process with your top 3 schools
- Take official visits if they are offered to you
- Ask questions of the coaches, athletes, and academic professionals at these schools – this is the time to get a real feel for where you may be headed next year
- Ensure that your Eligibility Centre profile is complete, including all transcripts.
- Make a decision that is best for YOU – as a student, an athlete and a family. Sign your letter of intent.
- Keep your grades up! Even if your athletic career has been decided, your university admissions will still be pending final marks.
No. Slacking. Off.
Most division 1 and 2 programs will have made their decisions by the start of this year. Some programs will have openings if one of their other candidates changes their mind. Lower ranked programs may still have some positions available, especially if they had other top prospects take offers from other schools.
If you are starting your recruiting process for the first time in grade 12 you have your work cut out for you! It is still possible to find an open position in a program (I’ve seen it happen!) however, you will need to contact many schools, and you will not be able to be as selective in targeting universities like you can when you start in grade 10 or 11 even