College field hockey recruiting tips
The recruiting process involves many steps, so we’ve made a list of seven recruiting tips to help guide student-athletes.
- Evaluate skillset: Student-athletes should work with their club and/or high school coach to evaluate their skillset and determine what division level is best for them.
- Research prospective programs: In order to find the right college fit, student-athletes should research programs based on academics, athletics, social and financial fit. This includes looking at the current roster, checking out the school’s academic and extracurricular offerings and learning about the social life and community culture on campus.
- Build a recruiting profile: Before college coaches can begin contacting student-athletes, they spend time reviewing recruiting profiles and evaluating potential recruits from afar. Athletes should create an online profile with their latest stats and highlight video.
- Create a highlight video: All student-athletes should have a quality, three- to four-minute video with 20–30 game clips that communicate their athletic talents.
- Contact college coaches: Student-athletes need to remain engaged in their communication with college coaches to show that they are interested in the program and serious about the recruiting process. Active and consistent communication is key to nurturing a healthy relationship with college coaches.
- Play for a club team: Playing for a competitive club team allows student-athletes to develop their skillset year-round, while also increasing access to college coaches.
- Attend tournaments, showcases and camps: Competing at these events for an audience of college coaches can increase an athlete’s visibility and opportunity to be recruited.
The college field hockey recruiting process
To fully understand the recruiting process, we also have to look at it from a college coach’s perspective. While student athletes are busy preparing for the recruiting process, so are college coaches. To begin the process, college coaches will create a list of prospective recruits based on certain criteria. Coaches will then send letters to these athletes to gauge their interest in the field hockey program. Remember, college coaches can send camp brochures, questionnaires, and NCAA materials and non-athletic recruiting publications at any time, but they must wait until June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year to contact athletes and send printed recruiting materials.
After June 15 of a recruit’s sophomore year, college coaches will begin to call and email recruits, as well as invite them to campus for an official visit. Once the coach has completed an evaluation of all their recruits, they will rank their top picks to determine which athletes will receive an offer. The recruiting process will wrap up with the athlete signing the official offer.
Getting scouted by college field hockey coaches
While recruiting profiles are a great recruiting resource, college coaches also like to watch athletes participate at field hockey camps, tournaments and showcases. These events allow college coaches to connect with athletes and evaluate their talent in high-pressure situations.
Student-athletes must be proactive to show college coaches that they’re serious about the recruiting process. Student-athletes should build a list of prospective schools and express their interest in the field hockey program by calling and emailing coaches to introduce themselves. Student-athletes can also turn to their high school and/or club coach to see if they have an existing relationship with any of the programs on their list and can help connect the athlete and college coach.
When does the recruiting process start for field hockey?
- As soon as freshman year, student-athletes can begin to:
- Research college field hockey programs and build a list of prospective schools
- Build a recruiting profile
- Create a recruiting video
- Send introductory letters to college coaches
- Attend tournaments and camps where college coaches are present
- Starting June 15 of the athlete’s sophomore year, college coaches can begin contacting student-athletes.
- Beginning August 1 of the athlete’s junior year, student-athletes and their families can schedule official and unofficial campus visits.
Am I good enough to play college field hockey?
Of the more than 64,000 U.S. high school field hockey players, less than nine percent compete at the collegiate level. College coaches are looking for student-athletes that are dedicated to training, demonstrate strong on-field ability and thrive off the field academically and socially. Student-athletes need to remain in good academic standing and participate in extracurricular activities. Each NCAA division level has its own expectations for student-athletes at each position.
Do I need to play club field hockey to get recruited?
The simple answer is yes; all student-athletes need to play for a club team if they want to play college field hockey. The biggest benefit of playing club field hockey is getting visibility and access to college coaches that student-athletes don’t get from playing high school field hockey. Unlike high school field hockey teams, club teams compete in local and travel tournaments that draw in college coaches from across the country to evaluate talent and recruit. These events give athletes a stage to showcase their skills and compete against top field hockey talent. For student-athletes living outside the regions where most college field hockey teams are situated, these tournaments might be the only time they have the chance to play in front of college coaches. Club coaches can also provide a great deal of support during the recruiting process, as many have connections to college coaches.
What to know about club field hockey, elite field hockey, and travel field hockey teams
Club, elite and travel field hockey teams open many opportunities for student-athletes. For underclassmen, these teams provide opportunities for growth. Athletes master the fundamentals, learn to work and communicate as a team and gain experience in competition. Upperclassmen benefit from opportunities to attend local and travel tournaments where college coaches are present. This access to college coaches can aid the athlete’s recruiting process by giving them an opportunity to showcase their skillset and compete against top talent. Coaches can also serve as a resource during the recruiting process by evaluating the athlete’s skills, providing feedback and helping connect athletes to college coaches
Your coach’s role in the recruiting process
High school and club coaches can play a large role in the college recruiting process. Not only do they help develop athletes’ skills, but they can also be a resource when it comes to contacting college coaches. Those who have been in the business for many years have relationships with college coaches and can help connect athletes to field hockey programs. Below is a list of ways that coaches can help student-athletes in the recruiting process:
- Create connections: Over the years, high school and club coaches tend to develop strong relationships with college coaches and programs. Coaches can leverage these relationships to help introduce student-athletes to college coaches and, in turn, help college coaches identify strong potential recruits.
- Provide feedback: It’s important for student-athletes to understand what division they are best suited to compete in before they begin their college search. Because high school and club coaches watch student-athletes compete throughout the year, student-athletes can ask them to evaluate their skills and provide honest feedback to help make this decision. Assessing talent and work ethic and comparing it to the various levels of competition at the college level, coaches can make suggestions about what division level their players are best suited for and provide feedback on areas they need to improve.
- Recommendations: High school and club coaches are often asked to comment on a student-athlete’s character, attitude, work ethic and talent. How they answer these questions can have a significant impact on the athlete’s recruiting process. If a student-athlete is being recruited by college coaches, they should let their coach know that a program might be reaching out to them for a recommendation and provide their coach with all relevant information.
Researching schools and creating a target list
To find the right college fit, student-athletes should begin their recruiting journey by evaluating what colleges offer academically, athletically, socially and financially. The first step to finding the right college fit is understanding the difference between each NCAA division level. Student-athletes, with the help of their high school and/or club coach, must determine what division level they are best suited to compete in before they can begin their college search. This includes evaluating where they fit in terms of their athletic skills, GPA and ACT/SAT test scores and financial requirements. Next, student-athletes can begin to research field hockey programs within that division that meet their academic, athletic, social and financial needs.
NCSA has developed a Power Ranking system that ranks the best colleges using factors such as cost, academics, graduation rate and more to help student-athletes find the right college fit.
Creating a field hockey recruiting video
Student-athletes will need to create a three- to four-minute recruiting video that highlights their talents. Before the recruiting process officially begins, college coaches can view an athlete’s video on their recruiting profile to evaluate their skillset. Below are field hockey recruiting video tips to help student-athletes get started:
- All footage should be shot at varsity or club game.
- Shoot from the stands or from the press box to give an elevated perspective.
- Zoom in enough for the viewers to see the jersey numbers, foot skills, and technical ability, but keep a wide enough shot to show the progression of the play.
- Use a tripod for stability and ease.
How to contact college field hockey coaches
If a student-athletes wants to capture the attention of college coaches, they need to be proactive and initiate conversation. Student-athletes should start with an introductory email.
For the subject line, student-athletes should write something attention-grabbing that will stick out in the coach’s inbox, such as numbers and stats, ACT score, graduation year, position, etc. This email should begin with the student-athlete explaining why they want to play for that particular program. It’s also a good idea to mention something about the team that interests them. After the student-athlete has declared their interest in the program, they should outline what makes them a good fit for the program and include the following information:
General information: name, graduation year, high school and club team name
Academics: GPA, ACT/SAT scores
Athletics: sport-specific stats and relevant measurables
Contact information: phone number and email, as well as the athlete’s club and high school coach contact info
The email should end with clear next steps. Student-athletes should state a specific time that they will call the coach or invite them to a tournament that the athlete will be competing in.
The importance of field hockey showcases, camps, and tournaments
Showcases, camps and tournaments provide student-athletes opportunities to develop as athletes and showcase their skillset while competing against top talent and connecting with college coaches. College coaches rely on these events to evaluate recruits’ talent, consistency and ability to compete in high-pressure situations. For student-athletes who live outside the regions where field hockey programs are located, these opportunities provide access and exposure to the NCAA field hockey coaches.
Managing the field hockey recruiting process
Managing the field hockey recruiting process can be complicated. Student-athletes must be proactive with keeping their recruiting profile updated, researching prospective schools, scheduling unofficial and official college visits, staying on top of deadlines and evaluating athletic scholarship opportunities.
Resources like NCSA help student-athletes and their families manage the field hockey recruiting process and keep them on track to find the right athletic, academic, social and financial fit. NCSA’s staff of former athletes and coaches aims to reduce the stress that comes with the college recruiting process by helping student-athletes create a personalized recruiting plan, understand the NCAA recruiting rules and timelines and, ultimately, increase exposure to college coaches.
Understanding different scholarship offers and how to negotiate for the best offer
- Full-ride scholarship offer: As an “equivalency sport,” college field hockey coaches are given a scholarship budget to divide up and award to current players and recruits. Due to the few numbers of field hockey scholarships, student-athletes are more likely to receive a partial scholarship, rather than a full ride.
- Partial scholarship offer: Partial scholarships allow college coaches to make the most of their scholarship budget and award more athletes with financial funding that can cover the cost of tuition, books, room and board and other fees. Partial scholarships can be combined with academic scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid to cover the cost of college.
- Recruited walk-on (preferred): College field hockey coaches don’t always have enough scholarship money to offer every recruit funding, but they can offer them a spot on the roster as a preferred recruited walk-on. Athletes who receive this offer are guaranteed a roster spot.
- Unrecruited walk-on: If a college field hockey program hosts walk-on tryouts, student-athletes who do not receive a scholarship or a guaranteed roster spot still have a chance to make the team. During tryouts, athletes must impress the coach in order to make the team as a walk-on.