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Want to Play College Sports? Here Are Some Tips to Help Get You On Your Way

Do you ever think about where you want to go to college?  How about where you might have a chance to play a varsity sport? You may have big dreams about playing at a big school, but the question is: How do you get there? Kid Reporter Kate Gilliam interviewed two coaches from Hofstra University, men’s lacrosse coach Seth Tierney and softball coach Larissa Anderson, who spoke about recruiting and what they look for in potential student athletes.  

Work Ethic
Both Tierney and Anderson said that they look for an athlete with a good work ethic, which means they want someone who practices in his or her spare time, gets to the field before practice, and stays late after practice. Both coaches also mentioned that they look at how athletes handle themselves off the field and agreed that having a strong work ethic is one of the most important qualities an athlete can possess.

Be Competitive!
“When I start to recruit a girl, I ask her, ‘On a scale of one to 10, how competitive do you think you are?’” says Anderson. “If a girl looks me straight in the eye and says, ‘I’m a 10,’ I know she will be successful.” Both coaches mentioned that they want a competitor, someone who competes against himself or herself in the classroom, on the field, and in the weight room and who will continue to compete after graduating. 

Exposure is important.
If you are looking to play a sport in college, it is important to be seen by coaches. You can play in tournaments and showcases, and you can also go to summer camps for your sport.  Basically, you just want to put yourself out there for coaches to think about. If you just play for your high school team, you may not be as exposed as those who go to camps and tournaments. 

Do your research.
Research is one of the most important things involved in recruiting.  If you are interested in going to a specific college, you need to research the program, the coaches, and the team’s background, and you also want to make sure you are going to get a good education. It might sound weird, but do your research!

Be a leader, not a follower.
Both coaches said they look for athletes who are leaders of their teams. This does not mean you need to boss everyone around or be the captain; it just means that you should be a role model for your teammates. You can show them you want the team to succeed as a group by being a leader. Every once in a while, help a teammate out or help your coach.  

Play at the highest level your ability allows you to.  
Anderson said that if you have the same ability as players who are two years older than your age group, you should try to compete with those older players because it will improve your skill. “If you are in fifth grade but you can do eighth grade math, you should be doing eighth grade math so you can improve,” explains Anderson. 

Master the basics of your sport.
Tierney said that he looks for athletes who have the basics down. One of the most important things in a sport is fundamentals because without them, you can’t do anything else. Think of it this way: If you are doing math and you don’t know how to add, you can’t continue to learn new strategies. The same thing goes for sports.

Find your position.
If you are looking to play a college sport, find what you are best at within that sport and stick with it. If you play in a tournament and play offense when you are actually a defender, the coaches won’t see what you do best. 

Recruit the school.
Anderson said that you should recruit the school as much as you want the coach to recruit you. Also, you should try to get in touch with people such as the athletic director and the coach you want to play for. In addition, you should consider going down to the college for an unofficial visit because the campus is going to be a huge part of your experience there. Both Tierney and Anderson said that recruits can email or call at any time to try to know the coaches better because they will be spending a lot of their time in college with them. (When you get to high school, there are many rules about coaches writing you back and returning phone calls. If you have questions, you can review the rules on the NCAA website.

Be well rounded.
Tierney said that it is just as important for athletes to be good students because that can really affect if the college accepts you. Try to make time for clubs and activities that interest you. It will make colleges look at you more seriously because you have a background in other cool things.

ncaa recruiting college sports
ncaa recruiting college sports

Photos: Zack Lane/Hofstra University, Josh Fryd/Florida Atlantic University