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The Sports Scholarship Handbook

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Starting the race
Getting started:
Thousands of high school seniors are waiting for calls from college coaches. Some of those calls will be made, but many highly talented athletes will not get called. What went wrong? Why didn't an All-league or All-state athlete get recruited? The answers can be complicated, but the most important reason is visibility. There are many things you can do to raise your visibility among college coaches and to improve your chances of being offered a college sports scholarship. Rule 1 is do not wait. As soon as you read this, it is time to begin working on your recruiting strategies.
Are you on college coaches' recruiting lists?shoot
In most sports, NCAA coaches cannot make recruiting phone calls until near the end of your junior year in high school. Before that time, how do you know if you are on their recruiting lists? Before your junior year in high school an NCAA coach can send a brief questionnaire. During your junior year the coach can send you a recruiting brochure. If a coach has sent a questionnaire or a recruiting brochure before the end of your junior year, then you are on that coach's recruiting radar screen. 

If you are not getting those signs of interest, then you may need to seize the initiative to raise your visibility. The Sports Scholarship Handbook can show you how to take action and get on the coach's radar screen. Do not put it off. Start now! If a coach does not know about you, he cannot recruit you.
What are the odds?
Approximately 1 out of 25 high school students goes on to compete at an NCAA school. Approximately half of those receive athletic aid. So, the overall odds are that about 1 in 50 high school athletes receives a college sports scholarship. The odds are better in some sports than others. Talent is important, but your talent must come to the attention of coaches. You can improve your odds.
What will be your best college sports opportunity?
The college sports opportunity that is best for you will depend on many things: your goals; your sports talents; your academic  achievements and more. The only way to know what is possible is to explore those possibilities. Not all opportunities will come knocking on your door or ringing your phone. NCAA or NAIA? Division I, II or III? Scholarship or not? Small college or large university? The way to know what fits your interests, talents and goals is to explore on your own initiative. The Sports Scholarship Handbook can be your guide to that exploration. It can show you how to seize the initiative and be the explorer instead of sitting back and hoping that something good comes your way.
Don't delay:
Each athlete's season for being recruited lasts for just a few months and the time flies by. You can stretch this season out by taking charge early and making contacts. The Sports Scholarship Handbook gives you specific actions you can take that will extend the time period for coaches to get to know about you and your talent. By the time recruiting officially starts, many coaches have already identified their top choices.  You want to be on their list of top prospects before your recruiting season begins. Regardless of your year in high school, there are steps you can take today, tomorrow and next week that will increase your chances of being recruited and of competing at the college of your choice.

Early signing pushes the pace:running
Most NCAA sports have an early signing period before the end of the fall semester. This signing period, early in November, is often overlooked in the planning by high school athletes but it can dominate the timing of everything involved in recruiting. Calls by coaches, home visits, official visits to colleges all will happen before that early signing period for the students who sign early. At some schools and in some sports a majority of the scholarships will be offered at this time, leaving fewer for the regular signing period. If your sport has a first semester early signing period, it is even more is essential that you become visible to recruiting coaches as early as possible. The National Letter of Intent pages have a schedule of signing periods.

Four-year time line:
Freshmen: The first two years of high school are an athlete's time to grow and to develop skills. It is also a time to get an essential start on academic eligibility. No matter how good your skills, you will not be eligible to play as a college freshman if you do not have the right high school courses on your transcript. Therefore, your very first job, even as you develop your athletic skills, is to read the NCAA Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete (download the free PDF). Then plan your high school schedule with eligibility in mind. Enlist the help of your counselor early. Remember, it is not enough to have good grades and get a good score on the college entrance exam. You must also have the right mix of courses to meet NCAA standards.

Sophomores: Sophomore year is the time to get serious if you are interested in competing in college and in getting a sports scholarship. Learning about recruiting and the rules around sports scholarships now will put you ahead of the game when it counts. You can start working on raising your visibility as well as learning about colleges and their sports programs. The Sports Scholarship Handbook is a great way to start learning about recruiting and investigating college sports opportunities.

Sophomore year is also about development. This means both developing your sport skills as well as working on your leadership abilities. You will be a more valuable recruit if you have built a reputation for teamwork, sportsmanship and maturity. Establishing that reputation is a long process and it requires consistency. It is important to have fun and keep a sense of humor, but even more important to be fair, honest and mature. College coaches need motivated athletes who contribute to team unity and stay clear of trouble.

Juniors: No year is more important to recruiting success than your junior year. Most people know about recruiting as a senior activity, but it is the accomplishments of your junior year that will get you recruiting phone calls. The earlier that you get onto the coaches' radar screens, the better your chances of having a successful recruiting season your senior year. Do not sit back and wait for lightning to strike.

Sports Scholarship Handbook
You can boost your visibility to coaches by making phone calls, visiting schools and meeting coaches. You might think that it is the coach's job to meet you. However, there are various NCAA rules that prevent coaches from reaching out until late in your junior year. Learn about the rules and learn how you can use those rules to get a head start on recruiting. You can contact the coaches and you can meet with them and show your interest as long as you follow the rules. The Sports Scholarship Handbook has specific strategies and tactical advice on the things that you can do to improve your recruiting chances. If you wait, you risk running out of time and losing out on opportunities.

For NCAA Division I sports other than football, you can receive one phone call in March of your junior year. In football you may receive one phone call in May of your junior year. With a few exceptions, active recruiting in most sports starts July 1, following your junior year. In Division II, coaches can start making recruiting calls on June 15th of your junior year.

Seniors: You have many things to juggle at once. Time is in short supply. You need to continue to make sure that you are eligible by filling any holes in your transcript. Your sport skills should show continuing development. You may be receiving calls and you may get a request for a home visit by the coach. How should you handle a home visit? You may be fortunate enough to get an early scholarship offer. Is this offer the best you will get? Will you have to make a commitment before the signing period? What if the offer is good but you do not think that the school is right for you? What should you do and who should you see on an official recruiting visit?

Back of Sports Scholarship HandbookBe prepared. How can you best prepare to make the best of opportunities that come up? The most common comment I have heard from dozens of recruited athletes is that they wished that they had known at the start of the recruiting process the things that they had learned by the time it was over. Almost every scholarship athlete I have met  told me that they could have done a better job during recruitment if only they had known in advance some important things. That is where the The Sports Scholarship Handbook can help. The handbook will help you to prepare for all stages of recruiting from phone calls by coaches, home visits by recruiters, official and unofficial visits to colleges, verbal and written offers and the Letter of Intent. If it keeps you from being taken by surprise by one question or one event it will have been worth buying and reading.

Recruiting Services:
There are dozens of so-called "Athletic Recruiting Services," "Sports Scholarship Services" and "Sports Marketing Services" ready to provide recruiting help for a fee. I have talked to athletes and parents who have spent  hundreds of dollars on such services. In virtually all cases the athlete has not ended up accepting a scholarship from a college identified by the service. The bottom line is that the money spent on recruiting services can be far better spent on visits to colleges and marketing yourself in other ways.

Recruiting yourself:
For every star high school athlete who gets the attention of major regional newspapers and who is recruited by dozens of college coaches, there are dozens of other talented athletes who go on to compete for college teams and receive sports scholarships. There may be dozens of equally talented athletes who for whatever reason do not gain the attention of college coaches and who do not compete in college.

Recruiting yourself means carefully evaluating college sports programs and learning where your talents may best fit in. It also means contacting coaches, visiting colleges, highlighting your talents and much more. The sooner you start evaluating and planning the better handle you will have on the process.

College Sports Organizations/Divisions:
A majority of college sports scholarships are granted by schools that belong to the NCAA. However, a relatively small number of NAIA schools and schools belonging to other athletic organizations also offer sports scholarships. It will be useful to read the NAIA Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete to learn about NAIA sports, eligibility and recruiting.

Recruiting rules:
Learn how recruiting rules affect your prospects of a scholarship and how they affect your interactions with coaches. When can the coach can talk to you at a location away from his own campus? When are times to avoid making campus visits? When can you contact a coach by phone, by letter, by email or in person? When can the coach contact you? The answers are not always simple. They vary between NCAA and NAIA. They even vary with the NCAA Division and with the specific sport.

Your primary goal in understanding the rules of recruiting is to use those rules to maximize your opportunities. A major part of The Sports Scholarship Handbook is devoted to eligibility and recruiting rules and how they relate to maximizing your opportunities for a scholarship. The handbook has advice on how to  evaluate schools and sports programs and specific advice on actions that you can take to gain the attention of college coaches and get an opportunity to compete for a spot on the team and a sports scholarship.
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