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Validation – How Good Am I?
Prior to starting any planning you must be honest with yourself and find out where you stand in terms of ability and what level of college sports is realistic for you to participate in from an athletic and academic standpoint. This might take some pride swallowing, but in the end, will save you a lot of time and enable you to be more focused on the planning and execution of your recruiting strategy.
First, as a pre-cursor to the steps I describe below for all players, if schools are pro-actively trying to recruit you, you probably have a good feeling you can play at the level and division of the schools that are interested. The next question you would want to ask yourself is: Do I want to play at a higher level than the schools that are interested? If the answer is YES, you should follow the guidelines I have set forth below.
Compare Yourself To Other Athletes
Second, do an honest self-evaluation of yourself and what type of player you are. Compare yourself to players you know and played against who currently play college or high school players you play with or against who have already committed to a school. How do you feel your ability is compared to these players? Are you at the same level of them in terms of skill, strength, speed and intelligence as a player? Do you bring more or less than these players/athletes in terms of leadership, attitude and work ethic? These are some of things you have to ask yourself to give you a better sample of schools to pursue. Again: BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF.
What Do Others Think of Your Athletic Ability?
Third, ask people you respect including your coaches, teammates, former teammates that are playing college now, their parents, coaches that you have gotten to know at camps, coaches you play against, etc. two questions:
• Do you think I have the potential to be recruited at the college level?
• What level do you think I am capable of playing?
Ask for an honest answer (see Commentary: “Asking Others About Your Athletic Ability). Now, people are human so you might get a range of answers (the reason you have to ask multiple people). Some might say there is no way that you will play college, others might say you will be a professional and others might be somewhere in between. You have to analyze these answers as a whole (not just take one positive or negative). By asking other people, you are trying to decipher if the level or division you believe you can play at is in the same ballpark as what others think – overall. For example, maybe they think you are a Division 1 level player but at a lower level Division 1 school and you think you are more a mid-to-high Division 1 level player. If this is the case: You are in the ballpark and on the right track in building a list of schools to target. If everyone says you are a Division 3 level player and you think you are a Division 1 player, you may have to look yourself in the mirror and change your strategy (see Commentary – Changing Strategies). I never want to tell an athlete something is unattainable (especially those with a huge passion for their sport and work their tail off every day), but if you are in this position you may have to change direction.
Check out the video on Building a Target List of Schools:
Fourth, you have to get an overall perspective from where you stand with schools from an academic perspective. Schedule a meeting with your guidance counselor to go over your academic records (GPA, SATs, standardized test scores, etc.) and organize them for your personal academic profile. Get their opinion on what schools would be easy for you to get into, what schools would be 50/50 and what schools are a stretch. This is very important for a couple of reasons. If there are schools that are 50/50 or a bit of a stretch, but you really would like to go to a particular school, your athletic ability might be what tips the scales in your favor and gets you admitted. Also, some strong and reputable academic institutions need players on their rosters to raise the overall team’s academic index and profile. So if you are a great student, this might give you additional opportunities and a greater chance to play at a great school and program due to your hard work both in the classroom and playing field. Remember, no matter what division or sport, coaches want winning and competitive programs and they will do what they can recruiting-wise (academically and athletically, within reason) to field that competitive team year in and year out.
I also want to mention our partnership with Playced.com. Playced provides a “Matching Engine” that creates a list of schools based on your athletic and academic information. It is a powerful tool that can save you a lot of time and frustration.