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Helping Hand

A high school coach should play a critical role in creating the opportunity for an athlete to play in college if he or she is hoping to do so—and if it’s a realistic possibility given the athlete’s skill set and mental make-up.

An article on says that the first step is for the high school coach to realistically evaluate that player's ability relative to the appropriate college level, understanding that the skill requirements are different at the Division I level vs. Division II or III or NAIA. As a coach, you should put in the necessary time to understand these requirements.  Watch all levels of college games in your sport.  Talk to college coaches at the each college division and ask them how they see the difference between levels.  You should also track where the players at your school and perhaps in your area by making a chart; note such as things as their high school skills and character, how they fared in college play, and whether their skill set and personality enabled them to have success as an athlete at that college.

The MaxPreps article says that “once a coach has determined what the realistic option is for the player, a meeting should be set up with the player and his/her parents to discuss what the player is looking for in a college experience. From that meeting, the player should produce a list of schools he/she is potentially interested in attending.

“At this meeting, the coach should explain the rules of contact that players need to know for NCAA Divisions I and II. Rules on when email and phone contact can occur differ from division to division within the NCAA, and between the NCAA and NAIA.”

Following that discussion, the high school coach should instruct the player to do the following things:

1. See their academic counselor about their goals and see if academics and test scores are in line with their objectives. Visit and register for the NCAA Eligibility Center if applicable.

2. Contact the college coach with a specific email (or phone call) expressing potential interest. College coaches greatly prefer hearing directly from the individual player, rather than his or her parents.

3. Provide the college coach with a detailed schedule of tournaments they will participate in. As the tournament approaches follow up with a schedule of games, date, time, field and player jersey number.

4. Encourage the player to follow up after the tournament with a phone call. It might be useful for you to provide a phone script to help the player fight through their nerves with this call. Please inform the player that depending on their year in school the college coach may or may not be able to call back but can answer the phone.

The article on MaxPreps recommends that a high school coach should take these steps in assisting an athlete who is looking to play in college:

1. Contact college coaches that you’re familiar with at the appropriate level for the athlete and encourage these coaches to consider him or her. It’s important for the coach to be honest about the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses; this is important for not only for the recruiting of this specific athlete, but for your reputation in recommending future candidates to the coach.

2. Help the athlete in producing a quality video, then offer to either send it to the college coaches you’ve talked to, or send the coaches a personal email with the Youtube link to watch the video online.

3. Find out what tournaments these coaches will be attending where your athlete is participating and ask each coach to provide an honest assessment after watching the player at a tournament. Look for specific feedback and ask the coaches if they feel the athlete is good enough to play on their team.

4. If you don’t know the coach where your player is hoping to be recruited, call that coach to begin a dialogue. The MaxPrep article notes that “This will not only help current players but also will create a network of coaches to help with future recruits.”

If your athlete makes a recruiting visit to a school, you should contact that college coach right after to see what “he/she thought and offer to help out with communication if need be.” In terms of the player and his or family ask them for opinions on what they liked and did not like about the visit.

The last step for the high school coach in this process to provide the athlete and your opinions if they are interested in receiving your input. The article says, “Remember, the high school coach should want his or her player to choose the school that will provide the best overall experience (academically, athletically and socially). Be supportive when a decision is made and spread the word far and wide that one of your high school players has decided to continue playing the beautiful game at the next level.”


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