Now that you understand a little more about what the different levels are, it's time to think about how you can gain exposure to your target schools. Luckily, technology and social media have made highlighting your results and overall brand/portfolio a lot easier. That being said, there are still traditional methods like college camps, competitions, and more that you should participate in.
There is no substitute for coaches seeing you live in action, which is why we will emphasize that. Secondly, personality is one of the biggest aspects a college coach watches out for. That's why utilizing social media to demonstrate key team characteristics is vital.
Here are several key areas to gain exposure with specific instructions to better your chances of getting noticed:
Attend College Camps
Attending college camps is a great opportunity to gain exposure because it demonstrates all the important things a college coach needs to see. First, it shows the initiative that you want to connect with college coaches and their programs. Second, it allows you to demonstrate your skills in person, which can be very different from in a highlight video.
But what does it really mean when a college coach invites you to camp?
It's sometimes hard to tell whether you are being recruited or just getting a generic email. Look for personal information in the email that would separate you from someone else. It's a good sign if a coach also leaves their personal contact information.
Regardless of whether you are considered a camper or a recruit, there are a few tips and tricks you should have down before going to increase your chances of impressing the coaches.
- Remember the primary focus is showing your skills and demonstrating your ability and desire to improve/develop them further. Depending on where you're at in your junior career, the expectations may be a little different, but demonstrating the care for growth is important.
- Know the college coaches who are going to be there. Write a list of each coach/assistant/school and make sure you know their faces. Going the extra mile by taking an interest in their previous seasons or notable differences from one another is important.
- Find a way to stand out in the right way. Having a QR code that directs coaches to your list of academic and athletic accomplishments is a great way to showcase your abilities when the camp is over. This is one of many ways you can stand out.
Attend College Showcases
College showcases are different from college camps because they put the main focus on your ability to perform within your sport. While a lot of the same principles from above apply, you should think about emailing the coaches you have interest in beforehand to let them know you are coming. This will put your name on their radar from the beginning.
It's important to remember that it's OK if you don't do your best. Some coaches care more about how you react when you struggle than how you do when you win. This is because it shows character that will or will not fit within their team.
Create Highlight Videos
Creating highlight videos has never been easier. With social media and technology, creating a good highlight video doesn't have to take as long as it used to. Remember, a highlight video(s) linked on social media should stand out.
How do you do that?
- Create a portfolio on social media solely dedicated to your sport, providing updates on results and your training.
- Create a few different highlight reels that introduce who you are, what your goals are, and some of your best moments.
- Make individual videos for programs you are interested in. THIS SHOULD NOT be posted online. This is to email each program expressing your interest in their specific school and why. Then include your highlights! Bonus points if you mention some obstacles you've overcome and some long-term goals.
Talking to Your Highschool/Junior Coaches
Whether you play for your high school team or you are a part of an academy, it's important to involve your current coaches in the process. They may have connections or be able to introduce you to programs they have previously worked with.
If you come from a good program, other players before you will likely have found their way to schools that may or may not be at your target level. Talking to your coach about your dreams and goals for attending specific colleges is not only a great way to gain exposure but also to make sure your team is on the same page.
Not everyone's high school program is a great fit. This is why gaining exposure on elite club teams, joining academies, or participating in individual tournaments is a great way to control your exposure and work on your game. If you are considering playing a college sport, it is not unheard of for a high school athlete to transfer schools or programs to find a more suitable program for their level.
Look at what programs and academies players at your schools of interest played for. If it is possible to follow similar paths by joining the same programs, this will further help you gain exposure to specific universities.
In every sport for certain elite levels, there will be specific tournaments or showcases that college coaches are known to attend. These are events you want to be at to demonstrate how you fit in with their team.
* Originally published on November 19, 2021, by Brittany Collens