Field Hockey Recruiting: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Initial contact either from coach or by athlete. Field hockey recruiting usually begins with initial contact either from the coach in the form of a “nonathletic recruitment publication” such as a flyer, brochure, or questionnaire, or by the athlete to the coach in the form of an email. One university field hockey coach often sends out hundreds of contact letters depending on the size of his/her field hockey program. Many of these initial outreach letters include forms or questionnaires for athletes to fill out. If you receive a questionnaire, it’s a good idea to fill it out and hit submit, but just because you received a form-letter style email from a coach doesn't necessarily mean that they are strongly interested in you. It does, however, mean you are in their 'system' and you should begin to build a relationship with them by periodically sending new tournament results, new video, and academic updates like grades, course selection, and transcripts.
- Since coaches are very busy people, they usually don't have time to read long emails, even though they enjoy hearing from you (honestly!). A better approach is to build your own recruiting website that you keep current with your latest information. Then, in your brief (4-6 line) update emails, simply send the coach links to your website with the updated information.
- Base evaluations. The next step in the recruitment process for field hockey is additional research and evaluation from the coach. This phase typically occurs during the athlete’s sophomore year, when the coach is not allowed to contact the athlete directly. The university coach will conduct research by looking online for information about the athlete and contact the field hockey player’s coaches. The university coach will consider athletic performance as well as the field hockey player’s class portfolio, test scores, GPA, game statistics, and performance records; the coach will also look at any available video footage.
- Personal contact. Next, the coach and field hockey player will make personal contact over the phone or in person. Depending on requirements according to the NCAA field hockey recruitment calendar, the coach may be able to initiate contact with the athlete; if not, the athlete can initiate contact with the coach. With a face-to-face or over-the-phone discussion, the coach can get a better “feel” for the field hockey player as an individual so that he/she can assess the athlete’s character, attitude, and genuine interest in the university’s field hockey program. Phone calls and visitations from the coach may continue for some time as both the field hockey player and coach get to know each other.
- Campus visit. After a series of phone calls and/or face-to-face meetings where the coach determines that you might indeed be a fantastic fit for their program, the player and field hockey recruiting coach will arrange an official campus visit. Campus visits help both the field hockey recruiting coach and athlete further assess whether the school and team are right “fits,” while also exposing the athlete the university and team. If the campus visit goes well, the next step in the process is usually the extension of an offer from the coach to the field hockey player.
How Field Hockey Recruiting Differs
Getting recruited for field hockey is more complex than many athletes and parents think, and is somewhat subjective because there are few normed 'hard' stats involved, unlike what occurs in individual sports. The stats that do exist are collected during high school field hockey season by agencies like MaxPreps, and college coaches can't fully rely on these because of the wide variations in playing ability across small and large schools, and throughout various regions of the country. This shifts the recruiting decision-making balance to Club field hockey, where teams compete in national qualifying tournaments or showcases that have discreet divisions that are well-known to college recruiting coaches. Naturally, the recruiting coaches gravitate to the higher level divisions, so if you are not on one of the top travel teams, it's even more important for you to build a field hockey recruiting website so you can attract the attention of recruiting coaches.
No stats that can help you with field hockey recruiting are kept in at the Club level, however, other than wins and losses, so college coaches either travel to the showcases or national qualifiers to see players live, or rely on a combination of video, coaches recommendations, and a player's personal and academic profile when recruiting for field hockey.
Because the academic standards of many of the colleges that have field hockey programs - like the Ivies, MIT, and Stanford - are so high, applicants to these colleges have to be within a certain academic range to get past admissions offices' criteria regardless of their athletic talent. The good news is that many field hockey recruiting coaches can influence admissions decisions, and that this academic 'range' is often broadened or softened for recruitable athletes. The bad news is that if your grades and test scores are not even within that range, it is unlikely that the top schools will take you. The best way to find out what that range is (it differs for every school) and whether or not you hit the target, is to ask! Simply pick up the phone and call the field hockey coach at your list of colleges or send them an email. It's actually a great way to introduce yourself.
Facts About Field Hockey Recruiting
- Recruitment periods. Serious recruitment for Division I field hockey starts on September 1 of an athlete’s junior year; at this point, NCAA field hockey coaches are allowed to initiate contact with the athlete. Official visits to Division I schools are allowed during a field hockey player’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 and note that field hockey falls under “other sports.”
- “Equivalency” status: Division I field hockey is considered an “equivalency” sport by the NCAA, meaning that college coaches are allowed a set amount of full scholarships that they can disperse among multiple players within certain guidelines. Division I field hockey coaches are allowed 12 scholarships which they may divide among a set of players. See the 2015-2016 NCAA Division I manual for more information.
- Female sport: The NCAA supports women’s field hockey as part of its commitment to female sports. For more information about women’s participation in NCAA college athletics, view the NCAA Women’s Sports Inventory and Title IX resource center.
- Commitments: Signing dates for college field hockey programs begin in November and extend through August of an athlete’s senior year. During this time, athletes submit an official “letter of intent.”
The Role of Recruiting Agencies in Finding a field hockey ScholarshipBecause field hockey recruitment can be intimidating for athletes and their parents, many athletic recruiting agencies exist to assist all parties involved in the recruitment process.
The value of mass-market recruiting agencies is highly debated and that coaches and players have mixed opinions on whether these agencies are “worth it” when it comes to the recruitment process. Although recruitment agencies can be helpful, they can also put the athlete at risk by not representing the athlete to the fullest or losing the “personal touch” of one-to-one recruitment. Whereas some coaches say that they “trust [agencies’] judgements and will take a look at the athletes sent our way,” others say that they immediately delete emails from agencies and consider them “equivalent to spam.”
With this in mind, it’s crucial that high school players do everything they can to help themselves stand out if they want a field hockey scholarship. By establishing an online profile with detailed academic and athletic information, it's easier for college coaches to find and recruit them. A athlete’s online profile should include all basic athletic and academic information and records, as well as video clips. For help setting up your own online athlete profile, contact us.
What About a Recruiting Coach? There are some recruiting services or recruiting "coaches" that do not spam college coaches, and who can be very helpful in finding field hockey scholarships. An example is Jack Renkens at Recruiting Realities. Although we do not endorse any one particular field hockey scholarship advisor, we have found Jack to be the most knowledgeable - and the most realistic - of all recruiting advisors in the U.S.Greg Pereira, Athletics Recruiting
Why Do I Need an Online Profile?
Compared to other NCAA sports like basketball and football, field hockey is a low/non-revenue producing sport -- meaning that college field hockey coaches are operating with limited field hockey scholarship budgets. With this in mind, it’s important that high school players do everything they can to make it easy for field hockey coaches to find and offer them a field hockey scholarship.
Why Should I Include Grades and Test Scores Within My Profile?
Because college coaches are required to maintain a minimum GPA among their team, they seek out high school athletes who show academic potential. For example, a college coach will choose a high school athlete with a higher GPA over an identical athlete with a lower GPA. 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.
Given this scenario, it’s important that high school athletes include academic information in their online profile. In choosing an online profile tool, seek out a platform that allows you to attach and post (not just state) your official GPA and SAT/ACT scores. Like we do at Athletics Recruiting, make sure that confidential information is secure and password-protected.
Although field hockey recruiting process is competitive, with few scholarships available, it’s also exciting. As a high school athlete, your skills are your most important asset -- but your ability to package and present these skills, along with your grades, test scores, and statistics, is also extremely valuable. With the right online recruiting profile, you have a better shot at standing out to coaches during the field hockey recruiting process and get a field hockey scholarship.