College recruiting… Hollywood edition!

I LOVE sports movies! Even the cheesy ones. However, it seems that often what people know about the recruiting process comes from movies like The Blindside, Stick It, or Remember the Titans. Assuming that recruiting strategies shown on the big screen can be applied in real life is a dangerous mistake. Read on to learn why Hollywood shouldn’t be your guide to the recruiting process.

How coaches really find you

It’s incredibly rare that a coach finds you. 99% of the times you find the coach! While Hollywood would have you believe that if you’re a standout on your high school team, coaches from near and far will somehow hear of you and come to watch you play, this is not how recruiting works today. The majority of recruiting happens at large club tournaments where coaches have the opportunity to watch dozens of high caliber players in a single day.

There are always exceptions to the rule and occasionally you will hear of players who didn’t play club volleyball, who are still recruited to play in college. If college sports is your goal, don’t bank on being an exception—go out there and find a club team that will help you to develop your skills and love for the game!

How coaches can actually contact you

In The Blindside, a plethora of college football coaches knock on Michael Oher’s front door with the promises of college scholarships and numberless perks. Do not expect this to happen to you! While coaches are allowed to perform home visits, it is never going to be the way they first contact you. Most often, home visits are made to recruits who have already committed to a school, late in their senior year.

In Stick It, Haley Graham is approached by her coach following a star performance at the National Gymnastics Championships. The coach has a number of white pieces of paper, all representing scholarship offers from NCAA schools, that he shows to Haley. This is NOT how scholarships are offered! The vast majority of scholarships are offered either in person or via a phone call. No coach in their right mind would consider offering a scholarship to a player without having a personal conversation first.

What coaches can offer you

Johnny Be Good is an older movie that features a quarterback who is offered every bribe one can imagine from a number of schools—cash, girls, and even a car. While some of this kind of behavior may have been tolerated at one point, it is definitely not allowable by the NCAA today. Occasionally, you still see massive recruiting scandals, like the one that unfolded in college basketball last year, and the consequences can be severe.

Do you remember the scene, also from The Blindside, where Michael Oher’s little brother adorably negotiates with a number of college coaches for perks like leading the team onto the field? Also not a thing! You and your family aren’t allowed to benefit from your participation in college athletics outside of what is specifically allowed by the NCAA.

How does recruiting actually work?

For an overview of the basic recruiting steps, click here.

There are very very very few athletes who are so exceptional that they don’t have to put in a fair amount of work on their side to be recruited. The vast majority of athletes need to pitch themselves and their skills to as many coaches as will listen. It’s up to you to reach out to coaches and show them what you’re made of! You can contact coaches at any time in your athletic career, regardless of your age. Don’t be afraid to call and email coaches to tell them who you are and where you want to take your athletic career.

What benefits are you allowed to get?

Playing sports in college can come with great benefits, such as scholarship money, living stipends, athletic gear and clothing, free laundry, free tutoring and access to dedicated academic counseling. You’ll also be able to get your friends and family into your matches for free. There are lots of amazing benefits, but if a coach offers you something too good to be true or that seems fishy in any way, be extremely careful. A coach who would make you an offer that goes against NCAA rules does not have your best interests at heart. Outside of your living stipend, you cannot receive financial benefits that are not explicitly approved by the NCAA (even if they come from boosters or fans).

Go for it

If you have an interest in playing college sports, go for it! If you’re wondering some of the reasons why you should play college volleyball, click here. Playing in college is an incredible opportunity and may already be more within your reach that you think. Don’t be afraid to stretch for a great goal!

At BreakOut Sports, we believe it’s important for players to help each other through the recruiting process.

Click here to read about Captain in the Airforce, Cami Richan and the journey that led her to being a Division 1 athlete and a fighter pilot.

Click here to read about Deme Morales and the journey that led her to a top 25 school, multiple awards, and professional teams all over the world.

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