May 21, 2024

Chapter Six – Your Game Plan to Play College Sports

Since you now know what your strengths and weaknesses are better than anyone, your mission is to MAXIMIZE YOUR STRENGTHS and minimize or eliminate your weaknesses.

Stay energized and focused each step of the way. Candidly evaluate your progress and be organized in your pursuit. Develop a “never give up” and “never give in attitude”.

Accomplish your game plan with intensity of purpose and stick with it until you have the scholarship in hand. Constantly look for ways to improve athletically and academically so that you can give the recruiters and coaches every reason to choose you. Generally, college coaches start looking at recruits somewhere between the spring of the junior year and the summer before their senior year of high school.

Academically Refer to Chapter 9 to make sure you are taking the required courses for the division you want to participate in.

As Soon As Possible: With your future in mind, consistently work to keep your grades up. Develop good, daily study habits that will serve you well on into college. Also, make and accomplish on a regular basis new and bigger athletic goals. Consciously strive to improve in both areas. Plan and follow a schedule, which provides time for family life, social activities, academics and athletics. It will be crucial that you learn to balance these areas of your life before you arrive at college.

Many, many college freshmen flunk out in the first year because they have not learned how to balance their daily activities. Be willing to discipline yourself socially. Decisions that you make even at this point can affect your chance for a scholarship. Remember, if it comes down to you and someone else with the same athletic talent, the scholarship will go to the one with better academics and better attitude. You may ask why do coaches care about my GPA? In your mind, you may be thinking that my GPA, no matter what it is, won’t affect my contribution to the team.  You couldn’t be more wrong.

Your high school GPA is an important indicator coaches use to determine your possible success in college, your maturity level, and your degree of self-discipline.

If you were failing high school, why would a coach believe you could succeed in college? Additionally, once you receive a scholarship you will have to maintain your GPA in college to maintain your eligibility.

Academically – Sophomore

Spring – Set your goals as to what you expect of yourself as well as what is expected of you to be eligible. Talk to your academic counselor at school and inform him or her of your goals.

Very often a counselor can offer suggestions and tips to help insure your success. Visit the career center and start researching colleges you want to attend and check out their admission requirements.

Focus on what you will need to do to accomplish these goals. Pay attention to your studies, keep your grades up and make sure you are on track to meet all eligibility requirements.

Plan out your schedule for your junior year and try to balance your time. Schedule time for academics, athletics, family and extracurricular activities.

In order to improve in all areas of academics, you will need to plan to study for every test. Then the actual test will be the easy part. Remember the one test you don’t study for could make the difference in where or if you go to college on scholarship.

Athletically – Sophomore

Summer – Set goals as to what you want to accomplish this year as well as your junior and senior season. Then make a list of what you will need to do to accomplish these goals.

One exercise that is very beneficial is to write out an athletic resume. Make this resume cover a list of all that you have thus far accomplished athletically.

Next, write a resume covering all you want to accomplish by next year at this time. Then, list the things that you will need to do to accomplish these goals. Begin researching what schools you would like to play for. Try to go to some of their games, or watch them on television, watch ESPN, read about them in the newspaper.

Academically – Junior Year

Fall – This year is key to building your recruiting foundation. There are approximately 1975 colleges and universities in this country with athletic programs.

Request some general information from the office of admissions at the schools you are interested in.

throughout the United States to get a complete listing of possible schools. Get an ACT/SAT study guide and start studying for these important exams. ACT/SAT preparation help is abundant and is quickly available on the Internet.
Click Here For Admission Tips for preparation courses. Also, you might talk to other students who have taken the test before you.

Remember, based on your ACT/SAT scores you could qualify for some form of academic scholarship that would make you even more attractive to college coaches.

Winter – Stay on course, keep up and study for all tests.

Spring – Register, prepare and take your ACT/SAT tests. You can’t participate in college athletics if you don’t take the exam, or if you take the exam and don’t score high enough.

In fact, if you don’t take this exam and score high enough, not only will you not get to participate in college sports, you won’t even get into college. Taking and passing the test is your responsibility – step up and do it. You might ask why you need to take the ACT/SAT now?

College coaches want to make sure you make an acceptable score before they will consider making a scholarship offer to you. Help them keep you in mind by staying eligible? Also, you need to leave yourself time to retake the test in case you have a bad test day for one reason or another. For example, girlfriend/boyfriend troubles keep you from concentrating and giving the test your best shot.

You would be wise to take the ACT/SAT two or three times since your scores can improve 10% – 40% just by retaking the test. Don’t wait until spring of your senior year to take the ACT/SAT-it is an unnecessary pressure and could very possibly cost you a scholarship.

Summer – Plan out your senior schedule and make sure you are doing all the things necessary to be eligible for college. Fill out all academic and financial types of scholarship forms you can get your hands on.

Learn what types of scholarships other than athletic are available. Apply, apply, and apply! In many cases based on financial need, the first ones that apply receive the financial scholarship. Your academic counselor can assist you with this.

Athletically – Junior

Fall – Start contacting coaches from the various schools that you are interested in. Send the coaches a basic letter expressing your interest in their programs and also include your game schedule.

This is the best way to get noticed, as well as to find out what it will take to be a part of his or her program. Put the finishing touches on your resume, video and other materials that you will be sending to coaches when they express interest.

DURING SEASON: Think and play your sport like never before, you will need to focus on being the best student of the game, the best athlete in the game and the athlete who plays with impeccable sportsmanship. In general, during this season of play, be the best that you can be. Keep articles out of newspapers and keep track of any honors you receive. Accumulate any pertinent information that separates you from the crowd.

OFF-SEASON: Reevaluate your goals for your senior season. Look at what you had hoped to accomplish and what you actually did accomplish. Rewrite your goals for this season. Continue following and researching the teams that you are interested in.

Academically – Senior

Fall – Register and be certified by the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse, your counselors can obtain registration materials, at no cost by calling the clearinghouse at 319-337-1492 or you can register on line at

At this time, a transcript, which includes six semesters of grades, should be sent to the clearinghouse from the high school. You must fill out the NCAA Initial Eligibility form to be eligible to compete in college athletics; the fee is $30.00.

Make sure that you’re meeting all deadlines for any scholarship and grant applications. Keep checking to see if there are any other scholarships you qualify for. It’s important to make sure that you have the applications to each school you’re interested in.

Start filling out the applications as soon as possible. Schedule enough time to work on the applications; it will be time consuming. Begin to think about what you’ll write your essays about.

Stay in contact with your college guidance counselors. They can help you honestly evaluate your chances of being admitted to each school on your list.

Take at least three SAT II’s. Many colleges have SAT II requirements. If you’re not happy with your junior year scores, keep taking the test until your scores are acceptable.

Remember, colleges look very closely at first semester grades from this year. Avoid any senior year slump.

Winter- Stay on task with your studies. This is crucial. Study and prepare, remember one test can make the difference. There will be many extra activities this year. To do well, you’ll have to maintain a balanced yet challenging schedule. Follow-up on your applications and make sure nothing else needs to be done to be eligible for any scholarship. It is your responsibility to stay informed and organized during this process. Use a tracking sheet for the applications.

Athletically – Senior

DURING SEASON: This is when the cream rises to the top and this is when all your hard work starts to become apparent. Continue your pattern of excellence. If you have done all that you should have, this year should be one of the most exciting years of your life.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be the next superstar at the top school in the country, but it does mean that you’ll have an excellent shot at getting an athletic scholarship.

OFF-SEASON: Follow-up with all coaches and make sure they have everything they need. Make sure the coaches know you are interested; however don’t make a pest out of yourself.

WAYS TO IMPROVE Academically

If you are struggling in any class, get a tutor. Your academic counselor can refer you to someone. Not only is your grade in that particular class important as far as your GPA is concerned, but that class is very likely a building block for the more advanced required college course.

For example, it you are having difficulty with high school math, now is the time to establish your math foundation, do not wait until you get to college. If a tutor is not practical, Click Here for some Academic Tips!!

If you are in the habit of studying only the night before a test, determine to change to the much more productive schedule of studying on a daily basis.

You will perform better, learn more and actually spend less time overall in studying. Don’t skip school or be excessively tardy since these behaviors are indicators of your ability to take responsibility and your level of maturity.

While the coach’s job is to recruit the best athletic talent, they must also make every effort to make sure that every recruit can perform academically. If you can’t maintain the required GPA, you won’t be allowed to play.

WAYS TO IMPROVE Athletically

**Attention baseball, soccer, softball, swimming, and track participants. If you are interested in getting an athletic scholarship, it is probably more important for you to play club sports if you are interested in playing at the Division I or Division II schools. Coaches in these sports recruit heavily from the clubs.

CAMPS: Coaches spend summers coaching at camps and interacting with athletes for the purpose of recruiting. Most coaches run camps on their own campuses and if they’re not running one, you can bet they are working some other coach’s camp.

Participating in camps is highly recommended and is a great way to compete against different athletes, learn new skills, improve skills and get exposure. There are a variety of summer camps offered.

Attend as many as possible. If the financing for the camp will be a hardship, contact the coach in charge and ask if there is anything you can do to get a scholarship for the camp or work at the camp in some capacity.

AAU: Amateur Athletic Union charters teams from coast to coast in thirty-two sports and in a number of age groups. AAU competitions allow athletes to compete with other similarly talented athletes throughout the country and it is one very effective way to get that all-important coach exposure. Multiple coaches can see an athlete during one of these AAU competitions. Shoe and gear companies such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok spend millions of dollars on these AAU competitions. They provide sponsorships to high school teams, AAU teams and college teams. The sponsorship can include free shoes, camps, clothing and gear. It is perfectly legal for athletes to be steered toward colleges that AAU coaches suggest however there is an ethical controversy concerning the influence AAU coaches and shoe companies have on athletes. The NCAA is currently discussing reducing the number of days that athletes can be recruited in the summer because of alleged recruiting improprieties. Click for the latest NCAA ruling.

CLUB SPORTS: There are only a few sports that offer year-round club teams: volleyball, softball, swimming, soccer and baseball, to name a few. Club sports are for the most part expensive, but if you have the opportunity to participate with a club team, it is highly recommended. Many college coaches, especially women’s and men’s soccer coaches, rely heavily upon scouting club teams to fill their rosters.

College coaches believe that club players are more dedicated and talented since they play year round and are constantly involved with their sport.

Therefore, if it is possible for you to participate in club sports, you will be constantly improving your game and at the same time be increasing your chance of getting noticed.

COORDINATION: The way you move, balance, change of direction, and how smoothly or fluidly you perform your physical skills is called coordination. Coordination is very important to any athlete, without it, you can forget it. With excellent coordination you can become an outstanding athlete. Coordination is a gift from God, however you can improve your coordination by participating in as many athletic movements as you can. Coordination can be improved beginning in childhood and continuing through high school. Each sport, no matter how different, can teach your body how to fine-tune your coordination.

STRENGTH: Today more than ever, strength is an advantage in most if not all sports. Strength is a great asset but it is not measured the way most people think. Recruiters and coaches don’t focus on how much weight you can lift. They want to see how you use your strength on the field or court. Do you appear to be physically stronger than your opponents or are you pushed around? Are you easily knocked off balance? What your strength looks like on the court, in the water or on the field is what is important. Click Here and click on your specific sport

and see what strength training resources we recommend.

CONDITIONING AND STAMINA: There is not much worse than being tired and having to do something. So how do you prevent this? Easy, get in shape and stay in shape. Being in good condition is essential to your success.

There are numerous reasons why being in shape is advantageous.

1) You are less likely to be injured.

2) You’ll be able to play your very best at all times.

3) It’s possible that a scout or recruiter could be watching or videotaping you.

4) Being in tip-top condition shows that you are a disciplined athlete who is willing to do what it takes to be the very best.

If you get tired because you aren’t in good condition, think about the message you’re probably sending to the scouts and recruiters.

Among other things, you’re telling them that you are not quite as fast or don’t jump quite as high or swim quite as strong as someone they might be interested in.

They are interested in the bottom line only. If someone lacks the dedication and discipline to get in and stay in shape, chances are that he or she won’t work very hard at anything else. Bottom line–GET IN SHAPE AND STAY THAT WAY IF YOU WANT AN ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIP!!

In summary, participate in camps as often as possible. Compete with many different athletes, don’t just round up the people who you know you can beat.

The better your competition, the more you will improve. Make it a point to play at higher and higher levels. As an example, if you’re on a women’s basketball team, use a good men’s team as a practice squad.

Become a student of the game, watch and learn from athletes who are better than you and practice what they do. Constantly work on skills and drills to improve your strength, coordination, and conditioning.

Click Here – then on your specific sport and look for training resources we recommend.

WAYS TO IMPROVE Personally Always be polite and courteous to all coaches (high school and college), officials, and counselors. These people can make you or break you in the years to come.

Why is this so? Very often, a coach will narrow his decision for a particular scholarship down to three people. If their athletic skills are approximately equal, then character attributes will be of prime consideration. When you’re actually being seriously considered for an athletic scholarship, college coaches and recruiters will be talking to your high school counselors, coaches, teammates, teachers and anyone else who they feel will help give them an accurate picture of your overall character and accomplishments.

Again, treat all of these people with respect and do your best in your interactions with them; give them every reason to speak well of you. Be aware that coaches move around a lot. Just because a coach is employed at a school you’re not interested in this year, does not mean that he or she won’t relocate to the school of your choice next year.

Don’t rule out anyone anywhere; keep your options open, that way you will have more and better opportunities. As we stated earlier, if it comes down to a decision between two athletes who are of equal athletic ability, the scholarship will go to the one who has performed better academically and who has a better attitude. Stay out of trouble and avoid drugs. Think of the people you admire and the qualities you admire about them. Then try to emulate those qualities. Stay positive and don’t tear other athletes down in an effort to make yourself look better. The lists below contain some popular character traits and other qualities that coaches look for when making decisions concerning scholarships.

Do you possess these personal characteristics? If you are an above average athlete and possess most of these characteristics, you will have an excellent chance to succeed in college athletics.

Take the time right now to measure how you rate relative to each of these personal traits.










*Emotional Control


*Team Oriented


*Mental Toughness


*Committed to excellence

*Positive attitude




Do I need to register with the NCAA-Clearinghouse if I have been home-schooled? If you have been home schooled during all of grades nine through twelve, you do not have to register with the clearinghouse. Your certification status will be determined through an initial-eligibility waiver.

If you attended a “ traditional” school for some portion of grades nine through twelve, you are required to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Will the NCAA Clearinghouse provide the eligibility information to the colleges that are recruiting me? No, You will have to request the NCAA Clearinghouse to send the information to the specific colleges you want to receive the information.
Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3

Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6

Chapter 7|Chapter 8|Chapter 9

Chapter 10|College Sports Recruiting



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