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Freshman Year Recruiting Checklist

Freshman Year Recruiting Checklist

While jumping into your recruiting journey now may feel early, you will thank yourself later for building a strong foundation this year.

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Summer Before Freshman Year


Strengthen Your Athletic Skills

As you prepare for your high school career, you may hear from coaches about doubling down on one sport to maximize your chances of getting recruited by colleges. It’s okay if you aren’t ready to commit to one sport. Playing multiple sports can help you cross-train different muscles and maintain your fitness year-round. There may be a time when you decide to focus on one sport, but don’t feel rushed into making that decision. Have fun and take the time to try different sports.

Look Up Potential Club Opportunities

Most student-athletes will have more opportunities to be seen by college coaches during club season rather than during their high school season. This is because high school seasons typically mirror the college sports season in most areas of the United States, so it’s more difficult for college coaches to see you play in person during that time of year. One of the benefits of joining an established club program is that they may have strong relationships with college coaches through past athletes who have committed to their programs. Research some local organizations and see if you can find where some of their older athletes have committed in recent years. Club coaches can be your strongest athletic advocates during your recruiting process. Athletic advocates will assist you in various areas of the recruiting process, such as communication, school recommendations, and access to video.


Talk to Your Family About Playing in College

Becoming a collegiate student-athlete takes a lot of work. Communicating your long-term goals to your parents or guardians is typically the first step for many student-athletes in their recruiting process. While you do not need to decide on a program your freshman year, it’s still important to start talking about your goals of playing at the next level with your family and coaches.

Research Local Clinics or Camps to Develop Your Skills

Invitations to recruiting events are something that all families going through the recruiting process will become familiar with. If you are just starting your process, we recommend signing up for a clinic, camp, or training-focused event that allows you to strengthen your skills. Some local colleges offer these clinics; here, you can receive feedback directly from the coaching staff. This early in the process, maximizing your technique and knowledge of the game should be a top priority compared to exposure to college coaches. 


Create Your SportsRecruits Profile 

Creating a SportsRecruits profile will allow you to keep your recruiting information organized in one place. Having and maintaining an online presence has become crucial to the recruiting process as more coaches use online footage to evaluate prospects. Your SportsRecruits profile is built to host all of the information college coaches need to evaluate you and is engineered to amplify your profile to coaches in your sport. Since you are early in your recruiting process, you may be unable to complete your profile yet, and that's okay! Focus on updating the “Essentials” section. Your profile essentials include your first and last name, grad year, position, and profile picture. You can update the rest of your page as you progress through the recruiting process.

Write Down Your Goals for Freshman Year

Starting high school will mean more challenging classes, more independence, and an increase in your competition on the field. Whether you want to achieve a certain GPA, on-field success, or big-picture ideas, writing your goals down makes them easier to visualize. 

Gather Your Video Footage from the Summer

If you attended any tournaments or showcases that gave you game film access, identify your best clips and publish them to your SportsRecruits profile for coaches to see. If you don’t have access to video just yet, don’t panic! There will be plenty of opportunities to add this to your profile as you progress through your high school career. Even if college coaches aren’t focused on your graduation year, you need to get familiar with the importance of video in recruiting.

Freshman Fall


Talk to Your Athletic Advocates

Letting your high school and club coaches know that you want to compete in college athletics may be overwhelming, but being on the same page with them will make it much easier for you as you begin this process. Having people who know your athletic ability will make it easier as you start to build your target list. Once you build out your list, your athletic advocates will help you determine what programs are a reach, fit, or safety for you athletically. 

Meet With Your High School Guidance Counselor 

You want to start building a relationship with your high school guidance counselor as early as possible. This will allow you to create an academic game plan for the next four years and discuss the possibility of competing in college athletics. They will also be able to guide you on the types of courses you must take to fulfill NCAA eligibility requirements to play, especially if you have aspirations of competing at the NCAA DI or DII level. 


Build Your Target List of Schools

Take advantage of SportsRecruits' advanced school search tool to reach and build a target list of schools. We recommend starting with 20-30 schools and having a variety of reach, fit, and safety options. Your target list of schools will be fluid, and it’s important to re-evaluate it every few months consistently.

Virtual Tour Colleges on Your Target List 

Virtual tours are a great way to preview what life is like at the schools you are considering from the comfort of your home. This will be helpful when you eventually start setting up in-person visits to schools you are interested in. It is also a great exercise to consider what type of campus and surrounding area you see yourself in. You can typically find a virtual campus tour when visiting a school’s admissions website. If you happen to live near one of your target schools, check out the admissions site for campus tour availability so you have a baseline of what to look for at future visits.

Introduce Yourself to Your Target Schools 

It's up to student-athletes and their families when they want to start communicating with college coaches. However, there’s no need to feel nervous about contacting coaches too early! There are no restrictions on student-athlete communications to college coaches. There are only rules and regulations in place for college coaches. Initiating contact early in your recruitment process is crucial for visibility and ensuring you are on the coaches' radar.  If you just wrapped up your Fall season, send an introductory email to coaches with how you did and provide your updated video. Make sure you make each message personal to that specific school!


Finish the Fall Semester Strong

Whether it’s exams, essays, or presentations, make sure you are starting your high school academic career with a solid first semester. If you are falling behind or struggling in any subject, seek tutoring options or any academic support your school offers. The longer you wait to fix a problem, the bigger it becomes!

Publish Summer and Fall Film to Your SportsRecruits Profile

If you have in-game footage from the summer or fall season, identify the best 15-20 clips and combine them into one standout highlight reel. If you weren't in season and don’t have access to any in-game clips, consider putting together your first skills video. Skills videos are a great way to showcase you working on a specific technique or skill and should only be about 2-3 minutes long. Gathering video now will also be an excellent way to track your progress as an athlete while allowing coaches to evaluate you further.

Freshman Winter


Research Committed Athletes at Your Target Schools

The SportsRecruits college program pages show players who have committed to specific programs through SportsRecruits. You will be able to watch any public video on their profile. Evaluating these athletes allows you to see athletically what type of players typically end up competing for that program. These program pages also give you access to the school’s tuition, acceptance rate, majors, and more.

Understand the Type of Athlete Coaches Like to Recruit

Being a coachable student-athlete means being open to feedback, having a positive attitude, and respecting your coaches and teammates. A coachable student-athlete will be willing to learn and grow personally and athletically. A significant component of what college coaches look for in student-athletes is the intangibles that they have. Being open-minded to feedback, having a short memory after mistakes, and maintaining a solid work ethic are attributes that college coaches will look for as they evaluate potential student-athletes. 


Write Down a List of Goals for the Upcoming Year

Writing down your goals is much more likely to result in success than only thinking about what they are. Identify a few academic and athletic goals you want to achieve over the next year. The short-term goals you identify for yourself are building blocks to your long-term goals for playing at the next level. 

Add Fall Updates to Your SportsRecruits Profile

Consistently adding new information to your profile is crucial to the recruiting process. As you progress through your high school career, you are creating a resume that helps college coaches evaluate how you’d fit into their program. You must maintain your online presence to keep coaches aware of how you improve in the classroom and on the field. Add information like your upcoming event schedule, recent academic or athletic awards, extracurricular activities you are involved in, and much more! Log into your account, click the “profile” icon, and scroll through.

Message College Coaches Fall Updates

At this point, you have already reached out with an introduction email to the schools on your list, if not we recommend sending that to your full list. If you add any new academic or athletic information or video to your SportsRecruits profile, make sure you contact college coaches directly about this new information. It’s important that you do not sit back and wait for coaches to come to your profile, and that you are proactive by using the Messaging System to get in front of college coaches. 


Learn About the Differences Between College Divisions

When most people think about college athletics, they think of the NCAA Division I programs that compete in nationally televised games, matches, and meets. However, there are many different divisions and governing bodies that student-athletes compete in. Familiarize yourself with the differences between NCAA Division I, Division II, and Division III programs and the NAIA and NJCAA organizations. It will be essential to have an open mind when building your target list of schools. Don’t be afraid to add schools that vary in division or governing body.

Learn How to Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Establishing an online presence with your SportsRecruits profile is a fantastic starting point for your recruiting process. However, another excellent place for online exposure is through your social media applications. Following the accounts of college coaches and programs could be a great way to gain additional knowledge about your target list of schools. Some student-athletes create social media accounts for recruiting, where they can post about their athletic and academic achievements. It’s important to note that being active on social media should not replace your communication with college coaches via email. It should be utilized as an additional way to gain attention as a prospective student-athlete.

Message Your Target List

If you have followed along, you may have already introduced yourself to college coaches on your target list of schools. If you have not, we recommend sending an introductory email, letting coaches know who you are and why you are interested in their program. If you have already sent an introduction message, take the opportunity to reach out to your list with any academic or athletic updates or if you have added new video.

Freshman Spring


Add Winter Updates to Your SportsRecruits Profile

Consistently adding new information to your profile is crucial to the recruiting process. As you progress through your high school career, you are creating a resume that helps college coaches evaluate how you’d fit into their program. You must maintain your online presence to keep coaches aware of how you improve in the classroom and on the field. Add information like your upcoming event schedule, recent academic or athletic awards, extracurricular activities you are involved in, and much more! Log into your account, click on the “profile” icon, and scroll through the “athletic” and “academic” tabs to make sure you have as much information added to your profile as possible. 

Update Your Target List of Schools

It’s essential to evaluate and update your target list of schools regularly. As you progress through your high school career, you will better understand which factors are critical to you in a college or university. With the SportsRecruits School Search Tool, you can find every school in the country meeting the criteria most important to you. You can filter your search based on location, academic rigor, athletic division, and, depending on your sport, schools that have published Roster Needs. Using these filters, many athletes find schools they have never heard of that end up on their target list! Remember, as you continue to analyze and build your list, ensure you have academically and athletically suitable reach, fit, and safety schools. Learn how to build your target list here.


Make Sure You’re On Track to Be NCAA Eligible

Most high schools will use the Spring semester to create student schedules for the upcoming school year. If you meet with a guidance counselor, ensure they know your goal is to play at the NCAA level. They’ll help you ensure you are on track to complete your core courses, which you must take to be eligible to play for NCAA DI and DII programs.

Start Researching Summer Recruiting Events

Educate yourself on the different types of recruiting events you can attend. The most typical invitation student-athletes will receive is for prospect camps or ID clinics that schools host on their campus. Student-athletes finishing their freshman year of high school are typically not the focus of college coaches at prospect camps, as they are most likely looking for athletes one or two years older than you. However, prospect camps can be worth attending at this age to experience that environment for the first time! Recruiting Clinics focus more on skill development, which makes them an excellent opportunity to continue practicing your skills over the summer.

Another type of event to consider attending this summer is showcases. These events are usually attended by several coaches, which would provide you with an opportunity for greater exposure. Also, if you are part of a club team, you will most likely attend tournaments. This is another type of event that multiple colleges will be attending. 


Message College Coaches Your Upcoming Summer Event Schedule 

The summer season is typically hectic for college coaches when they see prospective student-athletes in person. Communicating with college coaches before events increases your chance of being seen. Send your target list of schools an email highlighting all of the recruiting events you are attending that summer. When you are 7-10 days out from an event, you should contact college coaches you know will be attending with information to help them easily find you at that event (i.e., jersey number, start times, field location). Coaches attend recruiting events with a pre-determined list of student-athletes who have reached out and expressed interest, so make sure you get on that list! 

Identify a Skill to Work on This Summer 

Becoming a collegiate-level student-athlete requires hard work, and identifying your strengths and weaknesses on the field/court is vital. Part of identifying those weaknesses is accepting that you have room to grow as an athlete, which means you can turn weaknesses into strengths. Talk to your athletic advocates so they can provide constructive criticism and any drills or training techniques you can work on throughout the offseason. 

Publish Spring Video to Your SportsRecruits Profile

If you play a Spring sport, do your best to grab your best clips from the season and turn them into a standout highlight video. Once you’ve created a highlight reel, it’ll be essential that you message college coaches with your new footage. Make sure you add your video to your SportsRecruits profile, then use the Messaging System to let coaches know about your new footage. If you don’t have footage from games you played in Spring, create a skills video showcasing a specific technique you’ve been working on.

Check out the Sophomore Year Recruiting Timeline for what to focus on this upcoming Summer season.


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