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Getting Recruited


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How Recruiting Really Works

How Recruiting Really Works


Follow the process 1:30

Do athletes or coaches initiate contact 7:45

Athlete Role 22:05

Parent Role 31:21

College Coach Role 40:22

Recruiting Process for Coaches

Step 1: Coaches put together a list of athletes who meet their primary requirements

The first step coaches take to find new recruits is by identifying athletes who meet basic criteria which include but are not limited to: physical features, position, graduation class, and academics. Coaches use the following tools to find this information:

  • Recruiting ranking and rating websites

  • Recruiting services such as ImRecruitable

  • Recommendations from coaches

  • Recruits contacting them 

  • Camps, combines and showcases

ImRecruitable Insider Tip: Recruits need to think of the college recruiting process like a pyramid. Student-athletes should start at the bottom with a large list of schools that fit their basic preferences. Subsequently, they should start to narrow down that list as they discover which colleges are going to be the best options.

Step 2: Coaches contact potential recruits by sending them recruiting letters, questionnaires and camp invites

The next step in the recruiting process involves coaches contacting potential recruits through the following mediums:

  • Request to complete a recruiting questionnaire

  • Camp invitation

  • Interest letter

If a coach contacts an athlete, it means that they are likely evaluating them as a potential recruit. Consequently, it is in the athlete’s best interest to follow up with the coach to increase their chances of making it to the next step of the recruiting process.

Step 3: Coaches conduct thorough recruit evaluations


At this stage, coaches will try to learn more about their recruits to develop a list with their top prospects. Coaches will start having deeper conversations with athletes, getting in touch with high school and club coaches for recommendations, and watching recruits play matches or showcases. Often coaches will also offer official and unofficial visits at this stage as well.

ImRecruitable Insider Tip: It is important to communicate often with college coaches. If a coach shows interest in an athlete, the athlete should quickly determine whether the school would be a good fit for them or not.

Step 4: Coaches send out scholarship offers and confirm commitments

In step 4, coaches will now have a list of their top prospects and start locking down commitments. Coaches start giving offers to their top recruits and work their way down the recruiting list until all positions on the roster are filled. A recruiting class can range from 1-30 or more athletes, but this depends on the division, sport and size of the program. A verbal offer (non-binding agreement) can happen at any time. However, since verbal offers are non-binding, both the recruit and coach can back out of the agreement. Finally, official offers typically become official when an athlete signs their National Letter of Intent, which often happens in their senior year of high school.


Step 5: Coaches ensure athletes sign for their program and meet eligibility requirements

The final step in the recruiting process is ensuring that athletes sign with their program and meet all eligibility requirements. Below is a timeline of this process:

  • Athlete verbally commits to the program

  • College extends an official offer

  • Athlete signs the official offer

  • Athlete continues to meet eligibility requirements (ie. core courses, GPA, etc)


College Sports Recruiting Timeline

The college recruiting timeline varies between sports, divisions and programs. However, provided below is a standard recruiting timeline for a high school student-athlete:

Freshman year: Research various divisions and learn the differences in competition, eligibility requirements and understanding sport measurables.

Sophomore year: Building an athletic resume and ImRecruitable profile, creating a recruiting video and contacting coaches at levels which permit recruiting at this age (ie. D3, NAIA, junior college).

Junior year: Contact college coaches and compile a list of target schools. Most D1 offers are made at this stage. A target list of 30-40 schools is sufficient.

Senior year: For those who have not yet received an offer, continue contacting coaches and perhaps start targeting lower division schools or other alternatives.

Online Recruiting


Follow the process 1:30

Do athletes or coaches initiate contact 7:45

An Athlete's Role 22:05

A Parent's Role 31:21

A College Coach's Role 40:22

What Do College Coaches Look For in Athletes?

College coaches have different needs for their rosters depending on the institution and program. While some coaches put more emphasis on certain criteria, the general categories are listed below:

Athletic Ability: This is typically the most important factor for coaches. A coach’s job is to build a winning team; thus, they will likely sign the best athletes possible.

Academics: Academic performance is another key criterion college coaches look for in athletes. If choosing between multiple athletes of a similar level, a coach will often pick the one with a stronger academic standing. At academically rigorous schools such as the Ivy league institutions, academics plays a major role in the recruiting process.

Character: This pillar is significantly more important than most athletes and families believe. Coaches will likely watch how recruits interact with their teammates, opponents, staff, and even parents to get a general idea of the athlete’s character. College sport programs want players who will hold themselves accountable, work hard, and be an overall team player. For coaches to build a strong team culture, a player's character plays an integral role.

Location: Top programs who have large budgets may recruit throughout the country and even on an international level; however, smaller programs lack the resources to recruit outside certain regions, which benefits those within a short-distance of target schools.

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