I have more than two decades of college coaching experience, and I’ve also had multiple children go through the lacrosse recruiting process, so I have some tips on the subject.
Lacrosse recruiting can be a hectic time for a young person, and it can be especially difficult to navigate without tips and help from those who have been through it before. So, I’ve put together a few of the top tips I would offer to an athlete entering the lacrosse recruiting world. Hopefully they can make the experience more fun, fulfilling, and successful for you.
Lacrosse Recruiting Tips from a College Coach
Paying Money to Play Lacrosse
Whatever you sign up for, make sure you have fun and that the value of the event meets your needs. You may get recruited from the event, but the event has to be worth it in the first place. Showcases can be a ton of fun, but it’s sometimes not the best team lacrosse.
I do like attending showcases as a coach, because I can see a lot of talented players in one place. My assessment of a player is easier when I see them live and in action. Do they get their eyes up right away after a ground ball? Will they share the ball and share the work? Is their passing and catching crisp? Are they fast? Will they do the million little things that need to be done in a competitive environment? Are they good teammates? Are they polite and respectful off the field? Would they fit in with our dudes? I get answers to all of those questions when I attend these events.
If you join a summer club program, recognize that your mission is to improve as a lacrosse athlete by playing more lacrosse. There is a ton of hype about getting “recruited” and not enough hype about getting better.
Fact: you need to get better before you even think about playing college lacrosse. Even DIII? Yes, even DIII. Very few freshmen jump right from high school or club ball into a major role on a competitive DIII team. The role is usually fairly different than that of what you needed to do in high school.
What is the value of playing club lacrosse then? It is tremendously fun. You play with people from all around. You play more competitive lacrosse games against tougher competition. As a lax parent, I remember fondly the many road trips and excellent time with my sons. My memory is pretty fuzzy on our stats, record, etc. It really is all about family time and getting better through competing.
What If I Play Other Sports?
If you don’t play for a summer club program, you can still get recruited. You won’t have your club coach helping you out, but your high school coach should be able to help you get film organized and reach out to college coaches.
Every college coach has a network of high school and club coaches whom they trust to give an accurate assessment of a recruit. That list is usually pretty small, though, and the preponderance of references generally are laced with hyperbole.
This is why it’s so important for us to be able to see you live. I love watching a good high school rivalry game to get a sense of a player’s competitiveness. I’m looking for players who put their heart and soul into playing, and most times you can’t really see that in the fifth game of a weekend at a summer tournament.
Connect with Coaches
Please, invite us out to see a game. Usually, it will be later in the campaign as our season is going at the same time, but sometimes I’m on the road to watch playoff games, and I can’t wait for them!
You can’t get recruited if we don’t know who are you are. If you want us to take a look at you, make sure we have your schedule, your number, and basic information, like your grad year and position.
We organize our recruiting class by your graduation year. We may assess more than 300 potential recruits to get a class of 12, and then 12 more walk-ons will show up, too. We want the right fit for our academic institution first. For us, this rules out a lot of potential players right away.
We usually will ask for a copy of your unofficial transcript. We’ll use that to check if you’ve had a rigorous high school curriculum and will be up for the challenges of the college classroom. Not every school is like this – some schools have lower academic expectations and can look at a larger pool of student-athletes.
Use a search tool like niche.com to help you wade through the metrics of your search. You should use your data to assess the fit before you reach out to coaches. Probably the most important thing you can do as a recruit is to make a list of the places where you would like to study (without lacrosse as a factor) and start to narrow down that list. Then, lacrosse can help you target the schools you’re pursuing. Also, if you’re getting emails (yes, you should check your email regularly and respond to coaches, please), you can use the search tools to see if the school is a good fit for you.
You should drive this process. As a coach, I appreciate it if you’re interested in another school and not interested in ours. I totally get it, and I respect that it is your college search. Plus, it’s nice to know that I can focus on other recruits. I’m narrowing down my list the same way you should be narrowing down yours.
Play for Your Parents
I have worked through the process as a head coach for years, but my experience as a parent has been the most valuable.
Parents want the best for their kids. As a potential recruit, you may need to help your parents, just like they will need to help you with your FAFSA. Help your parents by playing hard, doing your research, and taking ownership of your college search.