Pandemic Edition: How to get recruited for sports scholarships while on COVID-19 lockdown
In the long run, the COVID-19 shutdown is a temporary shutdown — even though it’s been long-lasting, with no definite end in sight. But, realize that all recruits are in the same boat, nobody has an edge right now as everything has basically grinded to a halt. Whichever players can adjust and adapt to the new normals will have the opportunity to make the biggest impact in their recruitment. This will heavily impact seniors, but for everyone, this will be a life lesson that you will carry with you, and has the opportunity to teach you how to become more creative in your problem-solving and leadership.
College coaches are only increasing their recruiting time right now, with travel halted and team activities stalled. College coaches are extremely creative, and have not lost a step in recruiting during this time and are using it to spend it to do more film evaluations, reaching out to more prep coaches for leads on players and combing through their assigned regions to find the top and up-and-coming recruits. Believe me, they are not sleeping on recruiting — if anything, it’s only become a bigger priority for them over the last few months.
Here are 15 tips to help you navigate the current situation and get recruited:
#1- The #1 Rule to get recruited is that coaches must evaluate your play. Since they can’t come out to your school now — and camps, combines, third-party events, showcases, AAU events, etc are canceled — your video is your biggest tool right now. Get your video together from last season and compose highlights, and have a few of your best games ready. (SEE: 15 TIPS TO PUT YOUR RECRUITING VIDEO TOGETHER)
#2- Turn this major roadblock into a positive. You will never have more time than now to do your research, put together your Student-Athlete resume and video, contact coaches, improve your weaknesses, build on your strengths and get focused on your goals. There is no excuse — you have fewer distractions and plenty of time on your hands. Make it count!
#3- Set small, measureable goals for yourself. First, sit down and pick an end date and write down a couple big goals for yourself. Then, break that down to weekly or bi-weekly smaller goals to meet. Keep up on those weekly or bi-weekly goals, and over a few months — you will have made a good stride.
#4– If you aren’t getting a ton of attention (and even if you are), this is a time to let your work ethic shine. Put in the extra work — set and meet some new goals with position work, strength, speed, weight gain/loss and academics. Be proactive, ask your coaches for individual drills, research drills on YouTube/Google. Master a few fundamentals of your position, don’t spread yourself too thin trying to improve in every area. Your coaches will notice, and it may move you up in their mind when talking with college coaches who are calling around (and most are making a lot more calls than usual) and asking about recruitable players. College coaches love recruits with tremendous work ethics, and your extra efforts will pay off during these trying months. If you show an incredible work ethic and make big improvements — it should help get you into the convo.
#5- Research ways to get extra weight training or speed work in. Search the internet for programs, and use household items that you already have. Money doesn’t have to be an issue or a factor to hold you back from improvements on your own.
#6- Sit down (you or with your family) and really think about your selection factors — distance, academic program, playing time, path to starting job, conference competition. What 2-3 things do you really need to be happy at a program? (SEE: DEVELOP YOUR SELECTION CRITERIA) Keep returning to these points, and don’t get distracted by all the other things coaches may be throwing at you about their program.
#7- Now is a good time to break ties with negative influences in your life — be less available and start reducing your communications and interactions and grow apart during this time.
#8- Stay in regular contact with your prep coaches and be proactive with them. Ask how you can improve, ask them what weaknesses you need to improve on.
#9- Research on the internet, or call athletic departments, to get direct email addresses and phone numbers for the assistant coach who recruits your area. Or, hit these coaches up on social media as well so that once you have your film and Student-Athlete Resume together, you can contact coaches. (READ: HOW TO GET COACH’S CONTACT INFO & TO GET AN EVALUATION OF YOUR VIDEO)
#10- Keep a low profile on social media if it’s too big of a distraction for you. Impressing your peers on social media isn’t as important as keeping a good reputation with college coaches. Constantly posting about your grind and hustle online isn’t always believable to coaches. Let your actions and improvements speak for you more than your tweets, IG posts and TikToks. (READ: 15 TIPS BEFORE YOU POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA)
#11- Also, while you’re at it — clean up your social media profile so it’s easily to find through search. Many coaches may try to hit you up on social media, make it easy for them to find you! Use your real name, team, jersey number, city.
#12- Find ways to grow and develop leadership, and build relationships with teammates and coaches off-the-field. Here are a few examples to get started:
- Start a big brother or sister mentoring program — matching underclassmen with upperclassmen to build stronger relationships and help develop and encourage younger players
- Hold Zoom checkins with your position group, offense/defense, grad class or team meetings. Ask everyone to join with one idea to help the team improve, or to check in on each other’s progress and accountability.
- Hold Zoom with successful former players or interesting speakers who can provide advice or do a Q&A session
- Host a virtual talent contest
- Host a virtual theme night where everyone dresses up in costumes
- Host a group yoga or meditation session online
- Host a Jeopardy-style quiz game or trivia night online
- Two truths and a lie over Zoom — everyone reveal two truths about themselves and one lie, with teammates guessing which is the untruthful statement
- Virtual scavenger hunt
- Play virtual charades and break off into teams by offense/defense or grad class
- Bucket list confessions online session – everyone reveal one of their biggest bucket list items so you can learn more about teammates off-field interests
- Building a storyline — start with a crazy opening line, and each player in jersey number order adds the next sentence to create a funny story over Zoom
- Play Guess Who over Zoom — everyone submits random facts about themselves and teammates/coaches have to guess who it matches with
- Socially distant or virtual meetups for off-field relationship building (fishing, video game competitions, etc) and/or drill workouts in position/small groups
- Shoutout teammates on social media who have made improvements, help encourage others
- Create a long-term competitions to help motivate each other — who can make the biggest improvement in certain areas like speed, strength training, conditioning, weight gain/loss, grades, etc.
#13- Get ahead on studying/classes if possible
#14- Be responsive to college coaches, even if you’re not too interested in the program. Take digital tours, respond to questionnaires, return phone calls. You don’t want to burn any bridges.
#15- Keep a journal to write your notes, fresh after speaking with college coaches or after taking virtual tours. Thoughts on your likes/dislikes, who you bond with, the financial aid being offered, etc. Research programs on your own. Keep track of questions you want to ask the next time you talk to particular coaches/programs. (SEE: 10 MUST-ASK QUESTIONS DURING THE RECRUITING PROCESS / MORE QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING RECRUITING PROCESS)