Updated: Feb 8, 2019
If you’ve read my past articles, or if you have visited with me at some point over the past 15+ years, then you know how frequently I refer to the college athletic recruitment experience as a major project.
Anything that requires hundreds of hours, multiple individuals, numerous moving parts and either costs you or saves you tens of thousands of dollars (depending on how you approach it) is a serious endeavor.
Which is why I talk so often about having a strong, well-conceived plan, not based on “guessing” but based on factual information. If you elect to “wing it” or “throw darts” at this project, then your outcome is likely to fall well short of your expectations.
The truth is, whether you take the “DIY” approach or hire a trusted expert to guide you through it (there are positions for and against both) really depends on how you value your own personal time. What cannot be debated, however, is the need for a well-conceived plan.
So if you’re chasing the dream of playing your sport in college, then here are 3 reasons why having an athletic recruiting strategy is more critical than ever…
#1 The college coach is often the one person who can determine the outcome of your admissions into the school AND what you actually pay for your education.
Emphasis is often on getting exposure, “getting looks,” and not on nurturing those relationships. The athlete is the product and the coach is the consumer. Coaches need you to solve their problems, but they will carefully examine options before making a buying decision. How well you market yourself can be the deal maker or breaker.
#2 More rule changes and more confusion.
Earlier signing dates, earlier official visit dates, some sports are making a push for more restrictions on early recruitment. The college athletics landscape is constantly evolving. But at the end of the day, two things will continue to serve as keys to success: interactions and evaluations. If you intend to use your athletic gifts to help pay for college, then these things must be a part of your marketing strategy, and it must begin as early as possible.
#3 The competition is fiercer than ever.
There has always been and there will always be talented athletes. But never before has there been a time when kids (and parents) are as proactive about their college recruitment. With social media, softer recruiting restrictions and rising college costs, a well-conceived marketing strategy is no longer the exception. It’s the rule.
If you are NOT sure where to start…
First off, don’t panic. You aren’t alone. Take comfort in the fact that most parents aren’t very confident about this project. Which is a big reason why families turn to people they can trust for guidance. Don’t shy away from those who speak this language and breathe this air every day. You know what you know, and you also know what you don’t know.
Second, if you’re going to launch & manage this process on your own, don’t wait. As soon as your child knows s/he wants to get recruited to play in college, devise your game plan and get to work. In 20+ years, I don’t recall anyone ever saying to me “we started to early.” But the line of people who admitted “we started at least a year too late” wraps around the block.
Finally, I believe wholeheartedly in surrounding yourself with experienced people who genuinely love to help others succeed. Whether it’s me (I’m available by appointment, just shoot me an email) or someone with whom you’re more familiar, have a conversation with an expert who really understands this world. You certainly aren’t forced to hire someone to manage this project for you. But you may realize it’s beyond your capabilities – as many people have come to realize about this project. It may not even be a question of your capabilities either. In fact, you might know exactly what needs to be done to resolve your problem, but you also know it won’t get done without someone else leading the charge!
Either way, make the time to visit with an expert in college sports recruiting. You owe it to yourself and to your student-athlete to make informed decisions, so even if it’s just to better understand what you’re getting yourself into, seek advice. It’s free. And at least then, you’ll know what you’re up against.
As a published author, public speaker and radio/television guest, Rex is widely considered among the nation’s premier authorities on college athletic recruiting.
Before founding Student-Athlete Showcase LLC in 2003, Rex served as a NCAA Division I Compliance Representative and VP of West Coast Operations for a large college recruiting firm. In 2008, Rex was honored with the prestigious “Forty Under 40” award by the Denver Business Journal.