Getting an athletics scholarship is the dream of every young athlete. What could be better than playing the sport you love for a high-level team, plus saving on your education costs in the process? Securing an athletics scholarship can be challenging, especially if you have a preference of school. Many athletes will compete for a few select spots on university teams, so you need to do everything in your power to better your odds.
It will require some hard work and dedication, but there are many ways that you can increase your chances of securing your dream athletic scholarship. Here are the best things you can do to give yourself the best opportunity to get an athletic scholarship.
- Don’t wait
From the minute you enter high school, you need to begin honing in on the sport you want to focus on if you want to work towards athletics scholarships. College and university coaches will often follow athletes for many years to determine their potential, not just during senior year. Ideally, you will know exactly what sport your both passionate about and excel in. That way, you can begin training right away and have more potentials to be seen by visiting coaches.
You can also begin reaching out to coaches as soon as your first season is over. As long as you have some stats, there is no reason to wait until the next year to make contacts. If you start from freshman year, that gives you over three years of building relationships with reputable coaches so that they know exactly who you are.
On top of that, starting as a freshman gives you the time to get better at your chosen sport and gain more experience on the field.
- Start talking to coaches
You can be the best athlete in the whole country, but if coaches don’t know that you exist, then you have no chance of getting a scholarship. Get the ball rolling by beginning to talk to coaches, which will put you on their radar. You will need to spend your entire high school career building a network of coaches who know about you and are intrigued by what you bring to the table. There are some essential things to keep in mind, though, when reaching out to coaches.
The NCAA has rules in place to make the scholarship recruitment process fair. Once you’ve contacted a coach, they can call you only a set amount of times, so you need to make those interactions count. When you’re speaking to a coach, it’s important to be highly professional, as if you’re at a job interview. Always use proper grammar and do your research on the coach to know a bit about them and their program.
You’ll also want to share status updates with them about areas where your stats are improving or any new records you’ve achieved. Each coach will value different stats, and it’s crucial you know exactly what they are looking for so you can share the appropriate information. Some coaches will want to hear about academic achievements and your GPA, while others will value volunteering or involvement in student groups.
- Create an impressive video
One of the best ways to grab a coach’s attention is with an impressive video demonstrating your skills. Coaches may happen to pass by your school and see you on the field, but it’s not a sure bet. The best way to get coaches out to your events or games is by contacting them directly. If you don’t have a video that impresses them, then it’s unlikely they will come to scout you.
When you’re making your video, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make your video dynamic and fast-paced. You don’t want them to get bored and end up not watching the entire thing.
- Put your best clips first. There may be some cases that coaches don’t watch your whole video, so you want to make sure you show them a fantastic clip first.
- Keep your video short. Make it more of a highlight reel and aim for between 3 to 5 minutes. Coaches can always request full-game footage if they want to.
- Make sure the video is high-quality. Don’t include clips that are out of focus or where the camera is shaking.
- Include a variety of different skill sets. Instead of just showing one skill that you’re best at, include clips of multiple skills to show that you’re a well-rounded athlete.
- Make sure that you’re in the spotlight and highly visible during the clips. If it is a broader angle, use spot shadows or freeze frames to identify yourself to coaches.
- Work on your grades
Being a fantastic athlete is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting an athletic scholarship. Having good grades is another critical component and will give you an advantage when being considered by coaches. Coaches need to meet a certain GPA on their teams. They may often take on a less skilled athlete if they have an excellent GPA to boost their overall team score.
The NCAA requires any Division 1 athletes to have at least a 2.3 GPA to play during their first year. They must also have taken four years of English, three years of math, two years of science, and two years of social science. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the requirements before entering high school to make sure to take all the required courses.
If you have a GPA of at least 2.0, you could qualify as an academic redshirt. That means you can get a scholarship and practice but cannot compete during your first year.
It’s entirely possible for any athlete who has drive and motivation to secure an athletic scholarship at their dream school. By starting early, networking with coaches, creating a fantastic video, and keeping your grades up, you can better your odds. Make sure to do your research and never miss deadlines, and you’ll have the best chance of success.