There are currently 1,845 colleges and universities in the United States, as well as over 1,600 2-year institutions. Most of these colleges and universities sponsor some sort of sports scholarship. As a student athlete looking for an athletic scholarship, it can be quite overwhelming! That is where athletic recruiting services come in.
What Are Athletic Recruiting Services?
Athletic recruiting services help student athletes get scholarships to colleges or universities. They do not work for the school, but provide a variety of services which can give students a leg up over the competition.
The most important thing that athletic recruiting services can give you is information. The NCAA and NAIA eligibility rules are frequently changing, and it can help to have accurate information. A seemingly slight blunder, such as not taking the right secondary school curriculum, could cost you a scholarship.
Athletic recruiting services also have a lot of valuable insight into the sports scholarship application process. They not only know how to apply, but when to apply, how to reach out to coaches, and how to market yourself.
A good athletic recruiting service will have knowledge about the many colleges in the United States. Also they help you narrow down your list of choices based on the likelihood of getting a scholarship, location, and quality of the school.
Depending on how long the athletic recruiting service has been in business, they might even have built up a relationship with college coaches, so could recommend you personally to a coach. But be wary of any recruiting service which says it has ties to coaches. There are thousands of college coaches in the USA, and no service can have ties to them all!
One noteworthy advantage to using an athletic recruiting service is that it can help you get around NCAA regulations about coach-student contact. College coaches can’t directly contact students during certain periods. Note that students can reach out to coaches at anytime; the coaches simply can’t respond back. The coaches can, however, communicate with the athletic recruiting service and use them as a middle man to relay messages to the student.
What Recruiting Services Offer?
Athletic recruiting services vary drastically. Some are incredibly basic and just let students create a profile on their websites (note that these are often scams or useless services!). Others offer a vast range of services which are useful to the student, even outside of getting an athletic scholarship.
Here is an overview of the most important athletic recruiting services offered:
Athletic Assessment Services:
If an athletic scholarship service offers to help you get a scholarship without first assessing your performance, then run like the wind! No one can promise to get you a scholarship without seeing how well you play first. The assessment should be performed by an expert in that particular sport.
The assessment should include an unbiased report of your strengths and weaknesses. Just as well as the likelihood of you getting a sports scholarship, and what level of sports scholarship you should aim for (such as NCAA or NAIA D1 or D2). Learn more about athletic assessments here.
These services are usually performed after an athletic assessment, but may be offered separately. The experts will give you personalized (emphasis on personalized) information about how to get a scholarship. They will answer any questions you have, advise you about eligibility requirements, tell you areas you need to improve on, and maybe recommend certain colleges.
Yes, student athletes need to market themselves in order to get a college scholarship! This includes:
- Making an athletic CV
- Making a sports highlight video
- Writing a good letter of introduction
Some athletic recruiting services will make your highlights video themselves, though many have separate companies they work with.
Outreach to Coaches:
Good athletic recruiting services will actively reach out to college coaches. But that doesn’t always mean that the coach will learn about you. As Lindenwood men’s basketball coach Brad Soderberg said about recruiting services, he doesn’t open emails from recruiting services. The reason is that too many recruiting services just spam hundreds of coaches, even though the student isn’t right for the school. You are more likely to get a coach’s attention if you write a personalized email which includes some information about the program. So don’t be surprised if an athletic recruiting service identifies the coaches, but tells you to contact them yourself.
Should You Use an Athletic Recruiting Service?
Athletic recruiting services do not do anything you couldn’t do or figure out yourself. What it comes down to is this: how much time do you want to spend on seeking out sports scholarships?
For example, you can go over to the NCAA website and read the eligibility requirements and then get a list of participating schools. Then you can research each of those schools individually to learn about their academic requirements, athletic competitiveness, sports facilities, academic programs, and so forth. Then you could narrow down all of those schools and contact the coaches individually. You could also make your own highlights video and CV. And you can always rely on your high school coach’s (probably biased) opinion about your likelihood to get a scholarship instead of paying for a professional assessment.
If you play a sport like archery which only has 9 colleges offering scholarships, then this wouldn’t take too much time. But, if you play a sport like soccer (football to those of us in the UK), then you’d have to sift through over 1,600 institutions which offer soccer scholarships in the USA!
The one thing we will say definitively is this: if you do use athletic recruiting services, take some time to choose a good one. You should feel like you receive a personalized service tailored to your unique athletic and academic needs.