How to Get Recruited
How to Get Recruited
Recruiting for International Student-Athletes

Recruiting for International Student-Athletes

Improve your chances of getting recruited to play your sport in college in the United States by following these important steps.

When Should International Student-Athletes Start Their Recruiting Process? 

Being an international student-athlete will make it harder for college programs to see you play live unless you travel to the United States. Therefore, it will be important to start the process early by emailing college coaches and letting them know who you are and why you are interested in their program. 

We recommend starting the process as early as Freshman Year, no matter what division or conference you are interested in. Communicating with college coaches and getting your name out there for college coaches to follow will be essential. While college coaches may not be able to have recruiting conversations until later in your recruiting process, they will keep tabs on who is reaching out to them. 

Which Sports Recruit International Athletes? 

While there are over 20 sports for student-athletes to play at the next level, several sports recruit many international students.

These sports include tennis, soccer, field hockey, track and cross country, baseball, basketball, and softball. Remember, if you are an international student and play a different sport than the one mentioned above, that is fine! This doesn’t mean you will not get recruited. It just means you may need to put in more work to get noticed by U.S. college programs. 

Steps to Take to Start Your Recruiting Process 

Once you have decided that you are interested in playing a collegiate sport in the United States, it will be important to get the ball rolling in your recruiting process! Below we outline the steps to be taking to start your recruiting process.

Create a Recruiting Profile: In today’s recruiting process, having a college recruiting profile will be necessary for college coaches to find you easily. You can start a free SportsRecruits account to host all of your athletic and academic information and unlimited video in one place for coaches to view and discover. 

Research Schools: Take the time to research schools that would be a good fit for you academically, athletically, socially, geographically, and financially. Also, look at program rosters to see if they have recruited international students. 

Build Your Target List: Once you have done your research, build out your Target List. When starting this process you should have anywhere from 20-30 schools on your list. You should cast a wide net and have an even balance of reach, fit, and safety schools. 

Gather Video: As an international student-athlete video is crucial. You must have plenty of highlight reels, skills videos, and raw footage readily available for college coaches to evaluate you .

Communicate with Coaches: Do not wait for coaches to come to you. It will be important that you are constantly communicating with coaches throughout your process. The first message to send is an introduction. Learn more about how to write a strong intro email here.

The Importance of Video as an International Student-Athlete 

Every student-athlete going through the recruiting process must have video for college coaches to evaluate them, but as an international student it’s even more vital. If you cannot travel to the United States to play live in front of colleges, video will be how they can evaluate your skills. Below are the types of videos college coaches will need to see.

Highlight Reels: A highlight reel consists of your best clips from live games and should be anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes long. It should show a variety of different skills. Make sure to update your highlight as often as possible to ensure you are making the strongest impression at all times. 

Skills Video: A skills video is used for college coaches to see your technical skills. These clips should be taken in practice, demonstrating the same skills 4-6 times. Similar to a highlight reel, it should be anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes long. 

Raw Footage: College coaches will want to evaluate you in a game setting without any edits or interruptions. Raw footage could be a quarter or half of a game. Make sure your raw footage is a game where you are playing well. 

The Importance of Communication as an International Student-Athlete 

Communication is essential regardless of your geographic location. Even if a coach may not be able to respond to you, it doesn't mean you shouldn’t be reaching out to them. By starting communication early, you will get on the coach's radar. 

Introduction Email 

After putting together your Target List, it’s time to contact those schools and let them know who you are and why you are interested in their program. Check out our introduction email template for some inspiration on starting your messages. Remember, do not copy this template word for word. Make sure to add personalization to each message you send.

Updates on Academic and Athletic Information

Whenever you have new information regarding transcripts, videos, or academic and athletic accolades, take the time to message the schools on your Target List to let them know. 

Setting Up Phone Calls

When you enter your Junior Year, on June 15th or September 1st (depending on your sport), college coaches can begin recruiting conversations directly with you. Once this date has passed, you should contact college coaches, set up phone calls to learn more about their program, and see where they are in their recruiting process. This step should be taken after you have made an introduction. 

Potential Visits 

It will be essential to visit the schools you are interested in attending. If you have the opportunity to travel to colleges and universities in the United States, make sure you set up a visit with the schools you are interested in. Send coaches an email that you will be visiting their campus and see if they have time to meet with you and your family. 

Navigating Financial Aid and Scholarships as an International Student-Athlete 

As an international student, you can pay for college in a few different ways including:

Athletic Scholarships: You may be awarded an athletic scholarship depending on the sport you play and the division you are playing in. To learn more about the different types of athletic scholarships, check out our article about athletic scholarships

Academic Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded to students at the top of their academic class. When looking into schools with your college counselor or guidance counselor, see if there is an opportunity for you to apply. 

Merit-Based Scholarships: Merit-based scholarships are awarded for various reasons. It could be through community service, extracurriculars, or leadership roles. 

Financial Aid: Access to financial aid varies from school to school. While international students are not eligible for Financial Aid from the U.S. government, they may have other opportunities depending on the schools.

Loans: Similar to financial aid, international students may not apply for US federal loans. However, they could qualify for private loans. It’s important to note that loans will need to be paid back, unlike scholarships or grants. 

NCAA Eligibility Number as an International Student-Athlete 

You must obtain your NCAA Eligibility Number if you want to play at an NCAA Division I or NCAA Division II school.

NCAA Division I Eligibility Number 

  1. Complete your 16 NCAA-approved core courses before secondary school graduation.
  2. Within those core courses have a 2.3 GPA average.
  3. You will need to submit your official transcript and proof of graduation. 
  4. Proof of amateurism by submitting an amateurism certificate. 

NCAA Division II Eligibility Number 

  1. Complete your 16 NCAA-approved core courses.
  2. Within those core courses have a 2.2 GPA average.
  3. You will need to submit your official transcript and proof of graduation. 
  4. Proof of amateurism by submitting an amateurism certificate. 

To register for your NCAA Eligibility Number, click here. As an international student, it will cost $160.00. 

NAIA Eligibility Number as an International Student-Athlete 

You must register for your NAIA Eligibility Number here to play for an NAIA program. From there, you will need to purchase an InCred Evaluation. Other documents that will need to be submitted when registering for the NAIA eligibility include your SAT/ACT scores, transcripts, class rank, and amateurism certificate. 

Ensuring You Are Academically Eligible 

To be academically eligible, you must have a 2.3 GPA or meet two of the following criteria after high school graduation.

  • Graduate in the top half of your high school class
  • Achieve a minimum of 970 on your SAT or 18 on your ACT
  • Achieve a minimum overall high school GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale. 

After you receive your NAIA number, you must submit it to your future NAIA coach for them to add it to their “Short List.” This list contains the names of prospective student-athletes that are highly prioritized to have their eligibility reviewed.


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