How to Get Recruited Guide

Recruit or Prospect?

Do college coaches consider your high school athlete a recruit or a prospect? Do you understand the difference between prospect and recruit? Even more important, do you know how to tell when a coach is actually recruiting your teen? You need to know this if you want to understand whether or not your teen is on track to become a college athlete.

When college coaches look at high school players, they see two types.  They see a prospect or a recruit. Let’s break this down:

A recruit

Players in the center of a coach’s radar screen are “recruits.” Coaches are interested in these players. What makes a “Recruit?” How do you know your athlete is considered a recruit?

When a coach expresses interest in your teen joining their athletic program, your teen is a recruit. Here are some indications a coach wants to pursue your athlete, and maybe make an offer. 

  1. A coach or assistant coach contacts your teen.
  2. A coach invites your family for a campus visit.
  3. A coach encourages your athlete to take the necessary steps to be admitted and play on their team.
    • Apply to the school
    • Send in your ACT/SAT scores
    • Send in your transcripts
    • Register with either the NCAA or NAIA eligibility center (except for NCAA Division 3, no eligibility center is required).

If you’re helping your teen plan campus visits or fill out admissions forms, your teen is a recruit. This doesn’t mean your teen is guaranteed a spot on the team. Even if a coach encourages your teen to apply and work through the financial aid process, the coach may not offer your teen a position. Coaches have all their recruits go through the admissions process to be sure the recruit is serious about the college.

In this stage, a coach might call your teen a PSA. That stands for Potential Student-Athlete. And the key word is potential.

But you can be excited because these are all good signs that your teen could potentially become an incoming recruit.


Don’t make this mistake.

When I talk to parents of high school athletes, I hear them make one mistake over and over. Parents tell me their teen IS being recruited by college coaches. And the proof? They received a postcard inviting them to sign up for an ID Camp (or showcase event, or any other recruiting event). If the college had their teen’s name on a mailing list, their teen must be a recruit. Right?

This makes sense. After all, your teen’s name did end up on a mailing list. They know your address. You must be doing something right.

But actually, the coach might have mailed the same postcard to 1000 athletes. Sure, it’s a smaller pool than every other athlete who competes in the sport across the entire US – or even the globe. But you know there’s not one coach out there looking to bring 1000 players in with next year’s recruiting class.

The 1000 names on that mailing list are prospects.

Okay, what’s a prospect?

Any high school athlete can be a prospect. A college coach might have hundreds of prospects on a master list.

Coaches obtain these names from showcase events, high schools, recruiting services, admissions departments, or ID Camps. Any time a coach can find a name to add to that list, they add it.

Coaches often send out hundreds or even thousands of emails to “prospects.” For instance, they send material asking for an action step, such as filling out a questionnaire. Coaches fish for a select few athletes that have these three things in common:

  • May have an interest in their school
  • May add value to their program
  • The coach has not seen them play

And once a coach has a list of prospects, they start contacting them. The coach’s goal is to whittle that list of prospects into a pool of recruits.

Is there hope?

So, if you’ve suddenly realized your teen is a prospect, is there hope? 

Sure there is. Being a prospect is the first step of the recruiting process. Start responding to the coach’s invitations and your teen might become the next recruit.

Start expressing interest in joining their program, and coaches will take a look at your teen. And if you decide one college program isn’t the right fit, move on and try again.

Whether your athlete is a recruit or a prospect, be proactive! Opportunities come to those who reach out and grab them!


Next, take a look at Are College Rosters Filling Up Without You? 

Only 7% of all high school athletes are able to experience the life-changing experience of college athletics. If your teen’s passion is to play in college, you need to make a plan to get there.

How to Get Recruited

How to Get Recruited: Get a step-by-step plan that gives you all the knowledge and confidence you need to help your teen become a college athlete.