Getting a sports scholarship to play college sports in the US is the dream of thousands of students. It allows you to keep playing the game you love – having a chance to become a professional – while you get a higher education diploma.
Such an opportunity, no doubt, has a massive competition, and thousands of students around the world are searching for a sports scholarship opportunity every year.
Knowing the right steps you need to take during high school to prepare yourself will give you an advantage over other prospects.
In this post, we will tell you how you can prepare yourself to become a high prospect to get recruited by an American university under a sports scholarship.
When should you start the recruiting process?
To find sports scholarships, students, in general, can start their process any time they want. When they are starting high school, year 11 or year 12, after graduation, and even after they began a university course somewhere else.
The success of the process for most of the students will be up to them. It will depend on when they are starting their process and the requirements they will be able to fulfil from that point on. For this reason, the earlier you start working to make yourself a high prospect, the better.
There are three different leagues you can play for in the US sports college system: NCAA, NJCAA and NAIA. Each one of the associations has different requirements you need to meet to be eligible to play. Taking the NCAA as an example, they have three separate division: D1, D2 and D3. NCAA Division 1 is the highest level possible to play sports, and their requirements are the hardest to meet. As they are the hardest one, we will use the NCAA Division 1 as a guide for you. Then you know that if you meet the requirements to play D1 level, you will be able to play in any other division or league you want.
To keep it all as simple as possible, we will describe how you should prepare yourself to play NCAA Division 1. We will talk about four topics: Grades, Test Scores, High School Curriculum, and Sports Skills.
I will put this information in capital letters hoping it will be emphasizing enough what I want you to understand. GRADES ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR BECOMING A HIGH PROSPECT RECRUIT.
The US educational system has a GPA (Grade Point Average) as their grades evaluation, and it scales from 0.0 to 4.0. You calculate the GPA by the grades you get in a specific subject and the credits provided by that subject to your curriculum.
Every university has different requirements in terms of the GPA for admission, as well as the leagues and their various divisions have different GPA requirements for playing eligibility. NCAA Division 1 requirements for both university admission and eligibility will have the highest demands.
The entire high school period is taking in consideration when calculating your final GPA, which you will use to apply for admissions and playing eligibility. That’s the reason why having good grades throughout high school is the most important thing you need to do.
Test Scores are an essential step in the recruiting process. For now, we will talk about it briefly as we will have a specific post to discuss it in more depth.
Test Scores are an entry-level requirement for admissions and playing eligibility. The most common tests you will need to take are the SAT, ACT, TOEFL and IELTS. Universities will request different exams depending on their process. For playing eligibility, you will typically take the SAT or the ACT.
As an international student, you won’t be able to get recruited without a satisfactory test score. Both the university and the leagues will require a minimum score.
Test Scores and Grades walk together, though. NCAA Division 1 has a sliding scale that matches your final High School GPA with the test score you achieve. It pretty much is if you have a high GPA, you will need a lower Test Score. If you have a low GPA, you will need a higher Test Score.
High School Curriculum
The High School Curriculum is attached to the playing eligibility for NCAA Division 1. Playing eligibility involves much more than the high school curriculum. Still, if you don’t follow it as you should, you won’t be able to play Division 1 sports.
NCAA Division 1 requires students to complete 16 core courses during the high school to give you playing eligibility.
The 16 core courses are:
- Four years of English
- Three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
- Two years of natural/physical science (including one year of lab science if your high school offers it)
- One additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
- Two years of social science
- Four additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy
From the 16 core courses, you must complete 10 of them before your seventh semester (beginning of year 12), including seven in English, math or natural/physical science. After you begin your seventh semester, you can’t retake any of those ten courses to improve your GPA.
When you start the process to be recruited late in high school (year 11 or 12) or after you graduate, you will be at risk of not being able to complete all the 16 core courses needed.
In this case, you might not be able to play Division 1, but you might meet the requirements for other divisions or leagues. Make sure to sit down with your curriculum advisor and make a plan to complete all the core courses throughout high school.
Alternatively, you can take AUSA free assessment to find out where you are situated.
Of course the highest level of your skills in your sport, the better are your chances of getting a sports scholarship offer from a higher level league and division.
The thing is, as an international student, you won’t be able to show college coaches your skills in person. The way you will be showing your talent will be through highlights skills video.
Let’s say a coach has to decide between you and a player that has higher skills than you. From a video perception, you can showcase your video with plays that will make the coach believe you are the better player. So the way you market yourself and the way you present your highlight video is even more important than your actual skills.
Every sport will have a different way to showcase the players’ skills as well as various types of skills that needs to showcase on the video. When recording game and training footage of your skills, following the tips below will make your video stand out over others.
- Introduction – Make sure to put your name, position, height, weight, and contact information at the beginning of the video. Additionally, you can also include your GPA, clubs you played for and high school.
- Best plays come first – College coaches receive tons of highlights videos from students from all over the world. Impress and catch the coach attention right from the beginning to increase your chances of getting noticed from your video.
- Use game, practice and skills footage – Again depending on the sport you play, coaches will prefer one of the types of footage mentioned. Game footage is always the best, but skills and practice footage are also essential.
- Make use of narrows, freeze the video or use spotlights/shadows – College coaches don’t know who you are. They need to be able to identify you in your highlights video. Indicating who you are when your play is about to happen, give coaches the clarity to know you were the one performing that fantastic skill.
- Quality Video – No coach will be able to identify what is happening on your highlights video if the video quality isn’t good. Record your skills professionally as much as possible.
Your video will show college coaches if you have the skills level for playing to their program. Take your time when editing and picking the plays you want to add to the video, as rushing to make a quick video can cost you scholarship offers.
See below an example of a video:
Make a plan and be consistent
The competitiveness of the recruiting process to get a sports scholarship in the US is getting harder and harder every year. The globalization of the world gives people worldwide a chance to find an opportunity to play college sports in the USA.
Following the guidelines shared with you in this post since the first year of High School will get you ahead from other prospects. Starting your recruiting preparation early in High School does make a big difference in making you a high prospect recruit.
Remember, playing college sports is totally up to you. Take the right preparation steps, stay on track of your grades, study for the entrance exams, record your games, practices and skills drills and you will be on the right pathway to follow your dream.
Not sure about if you are on the right path to get recruited for a sports scholarship? Take AUSA Free Assessment, and we will tell you the chances you have of getting your offer.