Athletic Recruiting

The Recruiting Funnel

recruiting funnel

Have you ever heard of “the recruiting funnel”?

College coaches are picky about their athletes. They reach out to a lot, they talk to a few, and they only ever see a tiny fraction. The best of that tiny fraction are the ones who get recruited.

Here’s a real-life example: all through high school, there was a football player named Chris who was on top of the world. He was getting letters from college coaches all the time and had a lot of interest.

But then junior year came around and his friends around town started to visit college coaches, and then signed letters, committed to schools and got scholarships. He still didn’t have one.

What happened?

First: he didn’t know about the recruiting funnel.

Here’s how the funnel breaks down for football: a coach sends around 15,000 letters. They end up watching about 1,000 highlight videos, and call half (500) of those players. They might make 150 verbal offers and invite half (75) of those athletes on official visits. Finally, they sign a maximum of 25 players to play and get scholarships. Other sports work basically the same way.

Chris thought that those letters he was getting meant that he’d have a spot waiting for him when he graduated. But the fact is that there were 14,999 other kids getting those same letters! The vast majority of them would never ever get their highlight video in front of a coach. A letter doesn’t mean anything. Even a phone call, a pretty big indicator of interest, is no guarantee – only 1 in 20 of the athletes who get a personal phone call from a coach will ever play for that coach.

No matter where you’re at in the process, keep pushing, because until you sign your name on that National Letter of Intent, nothing is for sure.

The second problem Chris ran into: he wasn’t proactive enough.Those letters were an indicator of coaches’ interest, sure. But even if a guy or girl likes you, you’ll probably never go on a date with them if you don’t go up and talk to them. College coaches are the same way – they need to know that you’re interested in them.

So if you get a letter, follow up, call them, let them know you’re interested. In addition to letting them know you’re serious about playing college sports, it shows that you’re the kind of person who takes initiative – exactly the kind of person they might want on their team.

If you understand the funnel, and know what you can do to make sure you stay in it, your chances of playing in college go up a lot. Stay humble – even if you’re one in a million, remember there are 7,000 people out there in the world who are just as good or better. You can get ahead with hard work and determination, but just like in sports, nothing in recruiting will be given to you or come easy.

Speaking of hard work and determination – when Chris realized what was happening to his recruiting process, he snapped into action and worked his behind off. He called and wrote every coach that he possibly could.

“Chris” was Chris Krause, the founder of NCSA. He eventually signed his National Letter of Intent from Vanderbilt, and now he spends his life making sure that no athlete misses their chance the way he almost did. Almost nobody understands the recruiting process right away – but once you understand it, there’s no excuse not to make the right moves.

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About the author
Aaron Sorenson