I get anywhere from 5-15 emails a day from student athletes struggling with the recruiting process. 99% of the time it's because the athletes do not understand how college coaches recruit and decide on prospects for their teams. For this reason, athletes are unable to provide the information that will grab the attention of coaches and trigger a reaction. Through the initial contact, athletes want to quickly identify whether coaches are going to consider them as prospects. If you are not a prospect, you move on. if you are a prospect, you continue the communication process with the coach. Here is some advice and recommendations that will help athletes understand how coaches evaluate prospects - and what prospects need to do to get recruited faster and easier.
College coaches have pre-determined minimum academic and athletic requirements that need to be met in order for student athletes to be considered prospects for their teams. A player profile will be used to check whether a student athlete meets the minimum requirements. A coach may also be able to advise if you would quality for academic aid (if offered by the school) and provide an estimate on the amount based on your academic standings. Providing coaches with a profile that allows them to make this decision is a vital first step.
There are many online services that allow players/parents to provide profile information online. [Editor's Note: The TRN profile is one such service that allows players to provide all the information shown below.]
Athletes and their families often get caught up wanting to share their stories. Coaches recruit initially from the facts. An athlete's tennis and academic results is all coaches want initially. If the coach deems an athlete a prospect, then athletes should be sharing their stories with the coach to set themselves apart and gain a competitive edge over other prospects.
Here is a sample profile template ...
John Smith, Miami, FL
Fall 2018 - UTR 10.50 / TR.Net 3 Star
Address: 1000 University Dr, Miami, FL, 33131
Cell: 305 999 9999
Parent cell: 305 555 5555
TRN: 401 (as of March 1, 2017)
UTR: 10.50 (as of March 1, 2017)
USTA National: #155 (as of March 1, 2017)
Versus Michael Jones (TRN Class of 2017 3-Star, UTR 10.56)
http://www.youtube.com/uT736631 (sample link does not work)
GPA: 85% (Unofficial transcripts attached grade 9 - current)
SAT: 1100 (Math: 600 Reading/Writing: 500) (scores attached)
ACT: To be taken March 2017
Intended Major(s): Business Management
NCAA ID #99999999
NAIA ID #55555555
Much like the player profile, coaches use video to vet the tennis ability of athletes and conclude whether they should continue to scout them or not. Coaches want to see unedited tournament match play (one set is sufficient) against opponents with similar or better ratings than you. Players should be recording tournament matches for analysis and coaching purposes already. Therefore, anytime you have a competitive match against a strongly rated opponent, you should upload the video online! It is as easy as purchasing camera tools from a website like www.mytennistools.com - and you can use any camera with a wide-angle lens. Make sure the entire court is visible at all times. After the match is complete, upload the video directly to YouTube or Vimeo and place the link in your player profile. Ideally you should create your own YouTube or Vimeo channel and upload the matches for coaches to view.
The days of producing a professionally edited recruiting video is over! Athletes that send coaches a professionally filmed and carefully edited video showing ground strokes, volleys, overheads, serves, returns and point play will NOT have an advantage in the recruiting process. Save your self time and money and upload your matches. Keep in mind, a coach could ask for some more footage of your strokes to evaluate your technique, but again this can be filmed close up with a smart phone and send to the coach without editing. Keep it simple and you will save yourself a lot of time, money and heartache, trust me!
Find a tennis program with the right fit
UTR and TennisRecruiting.net both have tools to help you find the college tennis programs with the right fit based on your ability.
UTR's tool is called "UTR FIT". Athletes can enter their current UTR rating and obtain lists of colleges where their rating would fit within the top six of the college tennis teams' lineups.
TRN has two ways for you to find your right fit. Athletes can view college and conference team pages (Men, Women) and view player ratings for commits from previous years as well as the current season. Alternatively, players can select the college commitments tab (Boys, Girls) and choose sorts by conference or rating.
These rating systems are strong indicators of players' abilities. Keep in mind that players who are not rated, are missing results, or do not have enough results will not have accurate ratings. Aside from these unlikely issues, the rating systems in place provide a very strong indication of each players' level compared to the competition.
Just because your rating fits with the range for a school, it does not always mean the coach is going to recruit you. For example, a coach may be replacing his/her number one player and therefore looking for a player of similar or better caliber as a replacement. If you do not fit the criteria, then the coach will not be interested in recruiting you - regardless of your level of play.
Learn About Recruiting
Get informed daily through online platforms such as blogs, videos, websites, social channels, podcasts, etc. Athletes can follow college teams, research schools, learn about recruiting, and receive college tennis news and updates on commitments. It is extremely important to educate yourself on the recruiting process and college tennis. The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you will be for the recruiting process and your future college career. College coaches love when athletes are familiar with college tennis.
A list of some online resources include:
In addition, you can follow college tennis teams on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
Get Exposure to College Coaches
Most college tennis teams do not have a budget that allow coaches to travel often to recruit players - let alone see individual recruits. For this reason, the popularity of college showcases and exposure camps has risen over the last few years. These showcases and camps allow the majority of college coaches to travel to a single showcase or camp near them where they can scout and meet many prospects. Athletes that attend these exposure events can gain a competitive edge over players of a similar level who are not able to showcase their skills and character to college coaches in person. Showcases are designed for high school juniors and seniors to play competitive matches and get exposure to a lot of coaches, while exposure camps will also provide competitive match play and exposure - but also include learning about the recruiting process, training with college coaches and experiencing the college tennis atmosphere and life.
The recruiting process over the years has become much easier and faster with technology, but not many athletes have taken advantage of it. Keep in mind that the number of athletes that now have access to reach college coaches from around the world has increased, so the competition has gotten stronger and larger. To be successful, an investment of your time and money is required. You can never bypass putting in the hard work and spending the time. That goes for anything in life. Working smart is the key to your success!
Founder - Collegiate Exposure Camps
CEO - ImRecruitable