7 Habits of Highly Recruitable Student-Athletes

Do you want to continue your academic and athletic career in college? Do you think you have what it takes to be a college student-athlete?

Playing in college goes well beyond your athletic abilities. Do you rest on your talents or are you willing to put in the time, effort, and energy to be the best you possibly can? Would you consider yourself lazy? Do you prioritize your academics? What kind of character do you have? Being recruited is about being a well-rounded individual. Taking the words from Shaquille O’Neal who borrowed them from Aristotle, “Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.”

Leaving athletic abilities and skills aside, what are the habits of a highly recruitable student-athlete? Stephen Covey, the world renown author developed the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I have created my own 7 Habits of Highly Recruitable Student-Athletes:

Habit #1: Identify Goals

We also call this habit “Discovering Your Why.” This is very similar to Stephen Covey’s habit, “Begin with the End in Mind.”

Before you start the college recruiting/college search process, you need to establish your motives and goals not only for playing college sports but attending college in general.

What do you want to get out of your college experience, academically, athletically, and personally? Your answers to these questions will define your why. By developing this foundation you will have a much clearer picture of what you are looking for and how to find it.

Habit #2: Self-Confidence

Being a college student-athlete, you need to be confident in who you are as a student, an athlete, and a person. If playing your sport is important to you, then there is place out there for you. No matter what level you think you are capable of playing at, possessing self-confidence is an important habit. You need to be able to express to a college coach what value you can provide to their program both on and off the field. The only way you can do that is be confident in who you are. Having self-confidence mixed in with a little self-awareness will take you a long way through the college recruiting process.

Habit #3: Prioritize Your Preferences

What is important to you? When looking for schools that fit your academic, athletic, and personal needs, you need to figure what factors are most important to you in your college search. Mount St. Mary’s Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Jamion Christian, says that every recruit should write down five things that are important to them in their college experience and stick to the game plan when navigating through the process. Here are some of the factors you need to consider:

  • Location (Distance from home, part of the country, climate)
  • Size
  • Academic Programs
  • Athletic Program
  • Level of Play
  • Playing Time
  • Program Success

Habit #4: Understand the Process

What do you know about the recruiting process? It’s important to have a grasp of how the process works:

  • What are the differences between the various levels of play (DI, DII, DIII, and NAIA)?
  • What do you know about athletic scholarships?
  • When can you contact a college coach?
  • When can a college coach contact you?
  • How to use Social Media to enhance your personal brand?
  • What are the best ways to communicate with college coaches?
  • How do coaches identify and evaluate prospective student-athletes?
  • Having the answers to these questions will help you navigate through the communication and exposure phase successfully.

Habit #5: Be Proactive

Nobody will accomplish anything by sitting on the sidelines and watching. If you want something bad enough, you have to take action. The recruiting process is no different. If you are part of the other 98% of high school student-athletes who are not being courted by a big time Division I school, program, or coach you need to do the work to be recruited. Practicing the previous four habits are useless if you aren’t willing to put yourself out there and be proactive. Being Proactive refers to more than the recruiting process but how you approach things in your life. In school, are you willing to go the extra mile to get a better grade on that final exam? Will you spend extra time on the court working on that 20 foot jumper, or more time in the pool to work on that flip turn?

You cannot sit idly by and expect you will just magically improve those skills, and in the recruiting process, you cannot wait for college coaches to discover you.

You need to contact college coaches directly via email, phone, or even social media. In order to be evaluated by a college coach you need to attend college showcase events or college ID camps/clinics. Being proactive is the habit of implementing and executing action items to achieve specific goals.

Habit #6: Appreciate the Journey

The opportunity to go through the college recruiting process is the pinnacle of all of the time, effort, energy, and commitment you have made to your sport. It is important that you not only enjoy the experience but appreciate the journey and where you are going.

There have been many people who have supported you over the years and have helped you get to this point in your life make sure you appreciate what they have done for you.

The coaches who have helped you refine your craft, the teammates you have played alongside, and of course your parents who have sacrificed so much for you to achieve your goals.

You should be grateful for the opportunity you have been given. Never take anything for granted. Be thankful for every letter, email, text, social media message you receive from a college coach. There is no better feeling than being wanted and loved by a college coach no matter what division it may be.

Coach Christian says, ” go to the place where you are not only loved but wanted and needed. I’ve seen it too many times where student-athletes choose a school where they don’t really want to go but do because of the level. Happiness cannot be measured if you have a burning desire to play. ”

You need to keep the big picture in mind, playing college sports is an opportunity to play a sport you love while building an educational foundation for your future.

Habit #7: Refine Your Craft

Don’t ever be content on where you are with your overall development as a student, an athlete, and as a person.

Refining your craft means more than just working on your game, it means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have–you.

In order to be the best version of yourself by the time you step on campus for the first time, you need to create a balanced program for self development in all aspects your life: physical, social, mental, and spiritual.


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