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Am I being recruited? It’s a fair question.
If only we had some Jedi mind trick we could use to figure out if we are really being recruited by that dream college (or at least know where we stand among the competition)…
After all, there’s a lot at stake.
Parents put up good money and spend hours of time helping their children get into a good club program, driving them to and from tournaments, perhaps a training and physical conditioning program, and of course, helping to support them in school.
Athletes spend hours of time in the gym working on their skills, developing their mental game, and working hard in the classroom, while navigating all that goes along with being a teenager in today’s world – and feeling the huge pressure that it all can bring.
All in hopes of that payoff: Landing a spot on a college team.
Ok, before we get too deep into the Am I Being Recruited question, if you haven’t been to the blog before, I just want to take a quick sec to say, “WELCOME!” I write weekly tips to help college-bound volleyball players and their families navigate the recruiting journey. I hope you like what you find here and you end up staying a while (and maybe we’ll even become VBall BFFs)!
If you’ve missed any of my previous posts, here are some of my faves!
Ok, so let’s dive right in to this weeks’ topic – and don’t forget I have a free PDF download at the bottom of this post, so if you just want the cheat sheet, scroll down there and grab it!
Are you being recruited? Seeing the signs…
As soon as you start to see a few signs that a school may be looking at you, the natural tendency is to wanna shout from the rooftops (or at least to your best friend),
“Woohoo, _____ (insert dream school name) wants me! They really want me!”
Not. So. Fast.
I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, because if you ARE getting signs of being recruited, yes, that is a big deal.
HOWEVER, you need to be realistic enough to know how to gauge those signs, to know just how intently they are pursuing you.
That’s where the recruiting funnel comes in.
The college recruiting funnel
Before you can really tell where you stand as a college recruit, you should know about a thing called the recruiting funnel. It’s a metaphor to represent the different stages a potential college athlete will go through on his/her way to signing their National Letter of Intent (NLI).
Basically, the farther you make your way down the funnel, the closer and closer you are to sealing the deal.
It starts with a coach evaluating you.
It ends with an offer.
The middle is where it can get a little squiggly.
Entering the funnel:
If a coach likes your potential, he/she may (or may not)…
- Ask your high school or club coach about you as a player/student/person, etc. and extend a message to you (they aren’t allowed to contact you directly until September 1 of your junior year in high school)
- Relay that he’d like to see more of you, perhaps through a highlight video (you should definitely be ready with video footage to send out)
- Contact you through email by phone
- Schedule an unofficial and/or official visit to the campus
- Extend an offer if all the other pieces are feeling like a good fit.
Unfortunately, the recruiting funnel doesn’t always travel in a straight line.
And it doesn’t always work like a real funnel, or work exactly in the same order for every player. Sometimes stuff spills out or it might get clogged along the way (but don’t worry too much – you’ll soon learn how to recognize if you’re in it).
It can get a little confusing for recruits sometimes. This is because there are MANY other athletes traveling along the SAME FUNNEL. After all, coaches will (if they’re smart) always cover their bases.
They definitely have their eyes on their top tier players, and they have others who are in their “back pocket”. They do keep tabs on all of their potential recruits, but like I said, just remember you are one of many.
The reality is, coaches work off of a list of several recruits (it can be 10 or 20 or 100) that they are evaluating for each position.
Most times, you have no idea, especially at the beginning, how far up or down that list your name might be.
Unless you know some of the signs.
Basically, when you are trying to decipher where you are along the funnel, remember the acronym N.E.R.O.
Getting noticed, being evaluated, actually being recruited – and then hopefully receiving an offer is the goal!
N –> E –> R –> O
You’ve been NOTICED – and might be being EVALUATED – if you…
receive a letter from an admissions office (this, of course, could be totally unrelated to volleyball).
are playing at a tournament and see a coach/coaches watching you/your team.
learn of a college coach talking to your club/high school coach about you.
get asked for your SAT scores/grades, etc. by the college coach.
get an email/letter/text that says the college will be “keeping up with”, “following”, or “evaluating” you.
receive a letter from the athletic office (especially a form letter or generic xerox of a news article with an envelope signed by what looks like a student clerk).
receive the team’s media guide (you’re getting closer though, especially for smaller schools – postage costs money!).
receive a response to an email you sent (good job if you do get this – you are definitely now on their radar!).
are invited to a camp (this has different levels, and could mean you’re getting closer).
You are likely being RECRUITED if you…
receive regular or personalized email and/or phone responses.
receive a handwritten letter or card from the coach or assistant that expresses genuine interest.
have a college coach coming to your practice or game specifically to see you play. Coaches are extremely busy, and this says a lot.
have been asked to go on an official visit to the school – an unofficial visit is good, too, but an “official” means now you’re really separating yourself from the pack. You can only do a total of 5 official visits and only one per school, so this is a strong sign!
are being extended an offer (scholarship or not) to become a member of the team!
As you can see, there are several nuances (and there can be several overlaps).
Still, these signs are important to note so you can see your possibilities…
Being recruited: Knowing where you stand
Every athlete starts off at the same place – trying to get seen. Once you’ve accomplished that, you know you are at least on their radar. Then you need to understand where you stand, so that you can help the process along, and eventually make your way through that funnel to get your offer.
Each coach is different, so even these lists with the common signs you are (or aren’t) being recruited are not an exact science. Really, the best way to really know where you stand is to ask.
Granted, asking a coach where you stand is not the easiest thing in the world, but most coaches are honest (and totally nice people!). They will tell you at least where along the range you are (and that’s not to say that’s necessarily where you’ll stay, but it’s often good to know your realistic chances).
It should be said that you need to be real about your ability level (scholarly & athletically) so that you are indeed trying to reach out to schools that a good fit for you.
If you are having trouble even entering the funnel at all, one reason could be you are aiming too high. There isn’t really anything wrong with that, it’s just that might have to do a bit of course correction. Begin to try to make connections with coaches from the conferences that match up well with what you can offer a team (this article has some tips for how to prepare before calling college coaches).
Making connections with the right schools – ones that are appropriate to your academic and athletic ability – will greatly increase your efforts of sliding right through that recruiting funnel with ease!
Foot on the gas (& getting proactive)
If you are being NOTICED, that’s nothing to scoff at.
If you are being RECRUITED, even better!
Just remember that you are not the only one. Too many athletes have seen what they thought was a sure thing never actually materialize into the offer they hoped for. So if you are getting some communication from schools, that’s awesome, but keep the stages of that recruiting funnel in mind, and realize that most athletes cannot just sit back and wait for offers to come rolling in.
It’s not time to take your foot off the gas pedal just yet.
The bottom line to being recruited
Here’s the bottom line: Nothing is a done deal until the deal is done – that is, until you’ve signed your NLI.
Until that day arrives, continue to work hard and keep your options open.
- Be positive with your teammates and your current coaches
- Work on your mindset (often overlooked, but a huge part of success in sports)
- Perfect your skills
- Pursue your goals in the classroom
- And be proactive in getting yourself connected with the right schools – and this includes your email strategy, your video highlights, and doing your research on which volleyball programs could be your best fit!
The time to get started on this is now.
Here’s to you traveling through that recruiting funnel to reach your dream of playing college volleyball!
Click to get your “Am I Being Recruited?” Checklist: Click here for the free PDF!
Ready to take it to the next level? Be sure to grab your FREE Done-for-You Email Templates to help you start connecting with coaches from your best fit schools by tonight!
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