Are you a men’s or women’s high school lacrosse player looking to get recruited for college lacrosse? Learn more about the NCAA recruiting process and the importance of creating an online profile so that you stand during your recruiting process. We’ll explain how to get started below.
Lacrosse Recruiting: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Initial contact from coach or by the player. The recruitment process for college lacrosse recruiting typically begins with an initial introduction/interest letter sent by a coach to an athlete, or an email directly to the coach from a player. Coaches typically send form letters to hundreds or thousands of athletes as a “first sweep” to assess interest among recipients and introduce their program to prospective recruits. For Division 1 schools, before a lacrosse player's junior year, the NCAA places restrictions on the content of these communications. In the early stages, communication from a coach to a player must be restricted to information about their programs in general, or their camps. These early emails often include basic questionnaires for athletes to fill out.
What does it mean if I get an email from a coach? Just because you received one of these mass-market emails - often quite personalized with a "Dear John" salutation - directly from a coach does not mean s/he is definitely interested in recruiting you. Receiving an email from a coach at this point only means that you are on their 'list'. But that's the first step. Congratulations! Although college coaches do aggressively seek out the top athletes on competitive high school and Club lacrosse teams, there is still much success that can be had by players that make the first contact to coaches via email, and then follow-up. In fact, that is how the majority of student athletes get recruited.
- Base evaluations. If a coach continues to be interested in you after initial contact is made, he/she will follow up with additional desk research. The coach will search online for additional information about you, such as your academic portfolio, test scores, GPA, game statistics, and performance records. The coach will also start reviewing your social media (keep it clean!) and video footage, and documenting your specific strengths and weaknesses. At this point, the coach might begin to rank perspective recruits according to factors such as size, ability, potential, and academic eligibility. Coaches also make their rounds at the US Lacrosse sanctioned tournaments, and sometimes even visit regional club tournaments in the upper divisions.
- Campus visit. After a series of personal interactions, the typical next step in the recruiting process is a campus visit. At this stage in the process, the coach is looking to ensure that the athlete is comfortable with the school and the team. The coach also has a chance to interact with the athlete in a new environment and expose the athlete to college life. If the campus visit goes well, the next step in the process is usually the extension of an offer.
Lacrosse players who want to play lacrosse in college are pretty much expected to attend high-level tournaments, summer recruiting camps, and showcase events. Therefore, it's a benefit to get on the best Club lacrosse team possible, as early as possible, because although the coaches will most certainly make their rounds to come see you play if you email them directly in advance, they tend to flock around the top-level teams because they know that's where they are most likely to find players that can benefit their programs most.
Why is Club Lacrosse Important? Generally speaking in high school sports, there's tremendous variation in playing ability as you move from smaller schools (D5) to larger high schools (D1), simply because there are more kids to choose from in larger schools so lacrosse teams from bigger schools tend to be better. Variations in talent also exist throughout various regions of the country. Therefore, college coaches cannot depend on stats kept from high school lacrosse, because not all accomplishments are equal.
The playing field is leveled, though, in Club Lacrosse, because teams fall into distinct categories, and coaches can easily gauge the level of competition by the division your team competes in.
Team sports like lacrosse, volleyball, etc., pose recruiting challenges because of the subjective nature of the decision-making process and the lack of 'hard' stats, especially with defensive positions. Coaches can't fairly judge you by your high school stats, and almost no stats are kept at the Club level. Overlay that with the fact that mass-market recruiting agencies are flooding coaches' inboxes with so much email that they don't really have time to look at each one carefully, and you see that lacrosse recruiting becomes a marketing game. You have to be a good player, and your grades and test scores need to be within range of the schools you are targeting, but beyond that, it's a race to try to get the coaches out to see you and to stand out from the crowd. How do you do that? With good video and an online profile (watch our video) that cuts through the noise.Greg Pereira, Founder, Athletics Recruiting
A Closer Look at the Lacrosse Recruiting Rules
NCAA rules regarding lacrosse recruiting have some unique features that make the recruiting process for this sport different than others. Rules vary across divisions:
Initial contact: The NCAA allows Division I lacrosse coaches to contact lacrosse players with forms, emails, flyers, and questionnaires during the athlete’s sophomore year; no personal contact is allowed until the athlete’s junior year. Therefore, if you invite a coach to one of your tournaments as a freshman, sophomore, or junior and he avoided you or seemed cold or aloof, there is a reason for that: he is not allowed to talk to you, especially at a tournament.
Recruitment periods. Formal recruiting for Division I college lacrosse begins on September 1 of an athlete’s junior year, when NCAA lacrosse coaches are allowed to initiate contact with the athlete. Official visits to Division I schools are allowed during a athlete’s senior year. For Division II and III programs, these steps in the recruitment process are allowed to start earlier. For full details, view the NCAA’s college-bound athlete guide.
“Equivalency” status: The NCAA considers Division I men’s and women’s lacrosse as “equivalency” sports. This means that college coaches are allowed a set amount of full scholarships that they can disperse among multiple players within certain guidelines. Division I men’s lacrosse coaches are allowed 12.6 scholarships per school team; Division I women’s lacrosse coaches are allowed 12 scholarships per school. See the 2015-2016 NCAA Division I Manual for more information.
Commitments: Signing dates for college lacrosse programs typically begin in November and go through August of an athlete’s senior year.
Why Should I Include Grades and Test Scores In My Profile?
Most colleges require that their lacrosse teams maintain a minimum or an average GPA -- and therefore, college lacrosse coaches favor high school athletes who show potential to help their team meet this requirement. For example, if a coach is considering two very similar players during the recruiting process, and one has a 3.4 GPA and the other has a 2.8 GPA, the coach will most likely make an offer to the athlete with a 3.4 first. Note that high school students must maintain a 2.3 GPA to compete during their freshman year of college for Division I sports; visit the NCAA’s 2point3.org website to learn more. With this in mind, it’s crucial that your online profile include academic details. In choosing an online profile tool, be sure to choose a platform that allows you to attach and post (not just state) your GPA and SAT/ACT scores. For safety, be sure that any sensitive information is password protected -- something we always ensure at Athletics Recruiting.