Men’s lacrosse is a prominent sport on the East Coast and is rapidly growing in the Midwest and California. To get recruited and secure a spot on a college men’s lacrosse team, you need to be more than just athletic. College coaches are looking to fill their rosters with talented, well-rounded athletes whose dedication to success reaches beyond the field and into the classroom. Student-athletes looking to stand out from the crowd will need to spend time building a strong recruiting profile and maintain clear and timely communication with college coaches at the colleges they are interested in.
Many factors go into a successful recruiting process. Student-athletes begin by determining at what collegiate level they are qualified to play before selecting a list of prospective schools within that division that they are most interested in. From there, student-athletes, with the help of their families and coaches, can begin the recruiting process by building out their profile, creating highlight video, contacting college coaches, competing in tournaments and attending prospect camps.
While exciting, the recruiting process can be complicated with all of the rules and regulations created and enforced by the governing bodies of men’s college lacrosse: the NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA. We’ve created this section to help student-athletes navigate all aspects of the recruiting process for NCAA lacrosse, as well as NAIA and NJCAA lacrosse.
Men’s college lacrosse has some of the most restrictive rules governing when and how college coaches and recruits can communicate during the recruiting process. The changes were implemented to prevent the rampant early recruiting that was previously so popular in men’s lacrosse. A study conducted by the NCAA in 2017 revealed that of the 11 NCAA sanctioned men’s sports, lacrosse had the highest rate of early recruiting with 81 percent of athletes receiving their first recruiting contact before their junior year.
In 2017, USA Lacrosse and the IWLCA and IMLCA set out to end early recruiting with a proposal to prohibit college coaches from any communication with student-athletes until September 1 of their junior year. The NCAA approved the proposal in April 2017, allowing college coaches to communicate with athletes via verbal offers, emails, calls, texts and recruiting letters starting September 1 after an athlete’s junior year.
Of the 113,313 male US high school lacrosse players, nearly 13 percent go on to play men’s college lacrosse. Student-athletes who continue their lacrosse career at a collegiate level are characterized by their dedication to practice time, on-field ability and commitment to thriving off the field. Off the field, student-athletes need to excel in the classroom and remain an active member in extracurricular activities. Men’s college lacrosse is offered at varying levels, including NCAA D1, D2, and D3, as well as NAIA and NJCAA. Each division comes with different expectations for athletes at every position.
Men’s lacrosse is growing in popularity but offers a limited number of scholarships across the NCAA’s 300 men’s lacrosse programs. As an NCAA “equivalency sport”, men’s college lacrosse coaches are given a pool of money that they can dedicate to athletic scholarships. On average, Division 1 NCAA lacrosse teams have 44 players with a maximum scholarship limit of 12.6 per team. Though, college lacrosse is not fully funded at each school, which means some programs have even fewer than 12.6 scholarships to award each year. College coaches often opt to award student-athletes with partial scholarships, rather than full rides, to make the most of their scholarship budget. Student-athletes with high GPAs and standardized test scores can also qualify for some form of financial aid through academic scholarship, grants and other forms of aid.
Student-athletes should be diligent in their scholarship pursuits by contacting coaches as soon as possible to begin building a prospect-coach relationship. Remember, standing out during the college lacrosse recruiting process does not just mean demonstrating athletic talent but also proving the student-athlete is a good culture fit for the team.
Playing for a competitive club team and maintaining a strong academic record only begins to answer the question of how to get recruited for college lacrosse. Active and clear communication with coaches is critical in the recruiting process. It is the student-athlete’s responsibility to nurture a relationship with college coaches, understand their status as a recruit and invite coaches to watch them play. Student-athletes can kickstart their relationship with college coaches by building a recruiting profile with stats and sending coaches with quality video featuring 20-30 game clips that showcase their athletic talents that coaches can use to evaluate players.
A lacrosse highlight video is a student-athlete’s opportunity to grab a coach’s interest in four minutes or less. In order to make a strong, attention grabbing video, student-athletes need to understand what college coaches are looking for in a recruit. For example, if the athlete plays attack, they should include varsity game clips that show confidence in high pressure situations and clear communication with teammates on the field. Once an athlete has a good grasp on what college coaches are looking for, they can work with coaches, family and friends to capture game footage.
But the process doesn’t stop there. Once the footage is captured, student-athletes need to know how to organize, edit and upload their highlight video. When the video is uploaded, it’s time to share with college coaches.
How can student-athletes increase their recruiting exposure and demonstrate their athletic talents in front of college coaches? This question is particularly important for student-athletes that reside outside of the Northeast region, where the majority of lacrosse programs are located.
The best way to play in front of a college coach audience and get noticed is at lacrosse camps. There are four different types of lacrosse camps: prospect camps, clinics, college camps and showcases. Lacrosse camps are held around the country, giving athletes an opportunity to travel to different regions and play against top talent. Student-athletes can expect camps to focus on offensive and defensive drills, team play and other skill training.
Of course, camps aren’t just a great way to aid the recruiting process, they also provide student-athletes the opportunity to explore campuses.
Playing college lacrosse doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes a team effort to ensure a student-athlete is equipped for success at the next level.
That team can be made up of a plethora of individuals, including a student-athlete’s family, college advisors, lacrosse coaches, off-field trainers, teachers, and more. IMG Academy, one of our regarded partners, has proven experience in supporting lacrosse student-athletes throughout their journey to the next level. They also have each of these areas on-staff on their Bradenton, FL campus to ensure each individual is set up for success. IMG lacrosse student-athletes also experience a schedule that mirrors that of a collegiate environment, so they’re are already familiar with their schedule from the moment they step foot on a college campus.
Within IMG’s college-preparatory environment for 6-12th graders, as well as gap year student-athletes, athletes will:
You can find more information about IMG Academy directly through the link below. NCSA has seen incredible success stories from families who have taken their journey to IMG Academy in tandem with NCSA’s recruiting services.
How many college lacrosse teams are there for student-athletes to consider? Student-athletes have the choice of over 400 colleges that offer lacrosse at the NCAA, NAIA and the NJCAA level. Finding the right college fit should not be based solely on athletics. Instead, families should focus on the right college fit athletically, academically, socially and financially. For example, under “social fit,” location is a factor that student-athletes consider in the college selection process. While NCAA Division 1 and 2 programs are primarily located in the Northeast region, student athletes looking to play in the Midwest have plenty of options at NCAA Division 3 schools and NAIA schools.
While NCSA offers an extensive recruiting guide from men’s lacrosse, there are a number of additional resources that student-athletes and their families can reference during the college recruiting process. Websites such as collegecrosse.com, insidelacrosse.com and uslaxmagazine.com provide advice and helpful tips. For lacrosse recruiting rankings, student-athletes can reference NCSA’s Power Rankings and the NCAA’s website.
NCSA’s Power Rankings are designed to help student-athletes find the right college fit by analyzing schools based on factors that are important to prospective students. Using resources, such as U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, 2017 IPEDS graduation rates and 2017 IPEDS institutional net cost, NCSA evaluates college location, size, cost and academics to create a list of the top athletic programs in the U.S.
Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.