Becoming a professional athlete is a dream shared by many students across the nation. The task may seem daunting and the odds may seem stacked against you, but making it to the college level of sports is the first major stepping stone toward becoming a pro.
Some students see playing at the college level as almost impossible, while some believe it to be extremely easy to get recruited. The truth is that it is neither impossible to get recruited to play at a college, but it also no easy task. If you are serious about continuing your passion for sports and playing at the college level, there area few things to know ahead of time.
Understand Your Chances
According to NCAA.org, “nearly eight million students currently participate in high school athletics in the United States. More than 480,000 compete as NCAA athletes, and just a select few within each sport move on to compete at the professional or Olympic level. ”For males, lacrosse and ice hockey players have the best chances (12.6 and 12.1 percent respectively) of competing in college. Females who play ice hockey have a 25 percent chance of playing in college! Women’s lacrosse comes in at 12.4 percent. And don’t forget about international athletes – especially when you consider professional sports like baseball, basketball, and soccer.
You need to decide you want to play collegiate athletics early! Students often wait until their senior year to decide that they want to play at the college level. While it is still very possible to get recruited, it can severely limit your time and options by waiting too long to show interest. Many recruiters start looking at prospective athletes during their junior and even sophomore years sometimes. Having extra time to contact certain colleges, attend camps, and get scouted can only help increase your chances of making it on the team.
Talk to the Coaches
Once you are serious about playing at the college level, someone needs to know other than you. Talk to your high school or team coach and let them know. Chances are that they have dealt with colleges or recruiters before and know the process of showcasing their athletes. They can help you get started in the right direction, and even possibly help with creating an athlete resume and filming your athletic ability. You will also want to reach out and contact the coaches of the colleges you are considering attending. This is an extremely important step, as only the college will know exactly what kind of player they are looking for, their requirements, and their recommendations for athletes.
Attend Summer Camps
Many colleges host athletic summer camps for prospective students. Attending these summer camps serves a multitude of purposes. First and foremost, it shows an additional level of commitment when a student forgoes part of their summer break to put in hard work at a sports camp. Camps can also help you keep your skills sharp during your offseason. Lastly, colleges almost always have recruiters or talent scouts at their summer camps. They are always keeping an eye out for the next big talent or developing star player, so bring your A Game!
Register to Become Eligible
This is a commonly overlooked step that many students are not aware of. In order to be eligible for athletic scholarships, a student must be NCAA eligible. You always want to register with the NCAA and NAIA clearinghouse online. Getting that done early will get that part out of the way and give your more time to focus on your skills.
Be a Student Athlete
Playing sports does not give you a pass to slack off in class. When you understand your athletic chances in your sport (see above), the best way to set yourself apart is in your academics. Many schools have strict and rigorous academic requirements for their students. This requires a disciplined balance between your practice and your schoolwork. Being the best at your sport may not help if the college denies you based on poor academics. It is also wise to keep up your grades in the event that you get injured or decide to no longer play sports at the college level. Good grades will help you not have to rely solely on your athletic ability in order to succeed in college.
There are many different levels of sports in the college world. NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA, and also club and intramural sports. Do not be discouraged if you do not get selected for the most prestigious Division I school. Sometimes even playing in a lower division may give you a better chance to showcase your skills and set you apart from the pack. Being a starter at a Division III school can sometimes be more beneficial than being on the bench at a Division I. Weigh your options and speak the schools and coaches that are interested in you to see what team is the best fit for you. You will also want to see what school is the best fit for you financially, socially, and academically as well. The coaches at Right C3 are always here to help guide you toward the school that is right for you.