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Women’s Lacrosse Recruiting Guidelines: What Coaches Look for in Lacrosse Players

“What are the odds of playing women’s lacrosse in college?” “Where do college coaches go to recruit lacrosse players?” “What do coaches want to see in your lacrosse recruiting video?” These are just a few of the questions that we answer in this section to help student-athletes understand what college coaches are looking for in defenders, attackers, midfielders and goalies, how to market their skillset and ultimately find the best college fit.

How good do you have to be to play college lacrosse? 

  • Division 1: College coaches award scholarships to the top five percent of women’s lacrosse players at the Division 1 level. College coaches at Divisions 1 schools have influence over admissions and can use this privilege to lock down top talent. Student-athletes who want to play at this level will need to be a top performer on the field and in the classroom.
  • Division 2: Division 2 programs are looking for student-athletes with strong athletic talent, who demonstrate a dedication to academic excellence. There is only a small drop-off in ability between D1 and D2 lacrosse.
  • Division 3: Division 3 programs may not offer athletic scholarships, and coaches have less influence over admissions, but top end Division 3 programs still recruit and offer roster spots to Division 1 and 2-level talent. Division 3 schools award student-athletes with academic scholarships, which are often better packages than the athletic scholarships that athletes receive from Division 1 and 2 schools.
  • NAIA: Similar to Division 2, the NAIA allows student-athletes to compete at the intercollegiate level with scholarship opportunities. The NAIA looks for strong, passionate student-athletes who are committed to academics.

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What are the odds of playing women’s lacrosse in college? How many high school players go on to play D1?

Just over 12 percent of high school lacrosse players go on to play women’s college lacrosse. Over five percent of these student-athletes play for a NCAA Division 3 programs, while only three percent are offered a roster spot at one of the 115 Division 1 programs. An even smaller percentage of student-athletes - 2 percent - go on the play Division 2 women’s college lacrosse. The remainder of student-athletes play for an NAIA or NJCAA lacrosse program. 

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How important is club lacrosse when getting recruited to play in college?

If a student-athlete wants to play college lacrosse, they need to compete on a club lacrosse team. While club teams have many benefits, they can be particularly beneficial for student-athletes looking to play lacrosse at the collegiate level. Club lacrosse programs help student-athletes develop their skillset and showcase their talents in front of college coaches at tournaments across the country. Playing at tournaments increases a student-athlete’s visibility and access to college coaches who attend to evaluate talent and recruit.

With so many NCAA Division 1 college lacrosse programs in the Northeast region, club tournaments are especially important to student-athletes competing outside of this region, as they provide opportunities to travel to tournaments that college coaches attend. Club coaches are also a good resource during the recruiting process because many of them have strong relationships with college coaches.

Student-athletes who play lacrosse for an elite high school program that routinely sees college coaches at games are an exception to this.

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How to play women’s lacrosse – what lacrosse skills are needed?

Athleticism is just one of the skills college coaches look for in student-athletes. Regardless of what position a student-athlete plays on the field, college coaches are looking for versatility, a high lacrosse IQ and the strength to play the game from start to finish. Of course, college coaches are also looking for position-specific skills in goalies, attack, defense and midfield players. From Division 1 to the NJCAA, we’ve broken down the four lacrosse positions and identified college coaches are looking for in student-athletes.

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Women’s lacrosse goalie skills and recruiting guidelines

  Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
Description Top D1 programs Lower D1 Top D2 and D3 Lower D2 and D3
Club Experience Multiple year Tournament All Star & MVP honors All Star Honors at multiple events All Star nominations and all tournament recognition Multiple year participant
High School Experience Top 3-5% in the country. 3-year varsity starter. All American and/or Nominee. All-state selection or multiple years nominated. Multiple seasons All State. Multiple years all region, area, county. 3-year varsity player and multiple sport varsity athlete. Club Travel team All Star Honors. Multiple year starter and/or contributor Multiple year member & starter
Avg. Height 5’11” 5’9” 5’8” 5’7”

Tier 1 Goalie NCSA Expert Notes:

Division 1 college coaches are looking to recruit goalies that meet the criteria listed under tier 1. Goalies at this level are ranked in the top five percent in high school lacrosse because of their strong communication skills on the field, command over the defense when needed and ability to take over the game at any moment. Regardless of difficulty, goalies make all “must” saves and have an accurate clearing game to create a fast-break scoring chance for the offense.

Tier 2 Goalie NCSA Expert Notes:

Goalies who meet the tier 2 criteria are best suited for a lower level Division 1 program. Student-athletes at this level show flashes of greatness and stubbornness in the net, but they are less consistent. While their clearing game is not as strong as tier 1 athletes, goalies at this level are still strong communicators who have the ability to lead the defense.

Tier 3 Goalie NCSA Expert Notes:

Tier 3 level athletes are generally bound for top Division 2 and 3 programs. With a solid understanding of the fundamentals in the net, tier 3 goalies are confident when handling the ball and communicate well with the defense. Where these goalies lack is command over the defense on the field.

Tier 4 Goalie NCSA Expert Notes:

Lower end Division 2 and 3 schools typically recruit student-athletes with tier 4 level experience. These goalies are not exceptional, but still reliable in the net to make steady saves and a good clearing game. While they exercise good communication skills, they don’t always step up to lead the defense. They create fewer fast-break scoring chances for the offense.

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Women’s lacrosse attack skills and recruiting guidelines

  Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
Description Top D1 programs Lower D1 Top D2 and D3 Lower D2 and D3
Club Experience Multiple year Tournament All Star & MVP honors All Star Honors at multiple events All Star nominations and all tournament recognition Multiple year participant
High School Experience Top 3-5% in the country. 3-year varsity starter. All American and/or Nominee. All-state selection or multiple years nominated. Multiple seasons All State. Multiple years all region, area, county. 3-year varsity player and multiple sport varsity athlete. Club Travel team All Star Honors. Multiple year starter and/or contributor Multiple year member & starter
Avg. Height 5’9” 5’8” 5’7” 5’5”

Tier 1 Attack NCSA Expert Notes:

Top Division 1 programs fill their rosters with tough attackers that have the experience and meet the criteria of tier 1 athletes. Even on the biggest stages, these athletes have the confidence to take over the game, demonstrate a high lacrosse IQ and have solid change of direction and vision in high pressure situations. These athletes are natural leaders that take command of the offense and threat to score and distribute.

Tier 2 Attack NCSA Expert Notes:

Tier 2 attackers have what college coaches look for at lower end Division 1 schools. These athletes are less unique, compared to tier 1 athletes, but they are still competitive, consistent and reliable with their skills, scoring and assisting. Tier 2 attackers don’t control the game as often as tier 1 athletes, but they do step up on occasion.

Tier 3 Attack NCSA Expert Notes:

Student-athletes who compete at top Division 2 and 3 schools fall under our tier 3 column. While these attackers are able to move the ball well to create offense and scoring chances, they make less of a scoring and assisting impact than tier 1 and 2 athletes. 

Tier 4 Attack NCSA Expert Notes:

Tier 4 attackers are best suited to compete at lower Division 2 and 3 schools. These athletes lack the reliability seen by attackers in the higher tier, but they are still athletic and quick on the field. These athletes contribute to the offense and rely on their advantages to pose a scoring threat.

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Women’s lacrosse defense skills and recruiting guidelines

  Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
Description Top D1 programs Lower D1 Top D2 and D3 Lower D2 and D3
Club Experience Multiple year Tournament All Star & MVP honors All Star Honors at multiple events All Star nominations and all tournament recognition Multiple year participant
High School Experience Top 3-5% in the country. 3-year varsity starter. All American and/or Nominee. All-state selection or multiple years nominated. Multiple seasons All State. Multiple years all region, area, county. 3-year varsity player and multiple sport varsity athlete. Club Travel team All Star Honors. Multiple year starter and/or contributor Multiple year member & starter
Avg. Height 5’11” 5’10” 5’9” 5’7”

Tier 1 Defense NCSA Expert Notes:

To be a tier 1 athlete and compete at a top end Division 1 program, defenders must have strong technical and on-ball skills. College coaches at this level look for defenders that have the confidence to take control of the game, fellow defenders and the competition’s offensive team. These players are confident handling the ball often and pose a threat in the clearing game.

Tier 2 Defense NCSA Expert Notes:

Tier 2 defenders have the skillset and experience that college coaches look for at lower end Division 1 programs. They show flashes of greatness, but they are not always the top defender on the field. With great athletic ability, these athletes cover top tier offensive threats and play strong 1 vs. 1 defense.

Tier 3 Defense NCSA Expert Notes:

Athletes who just missed making a Division 1 roster are considered tier 3 athletes. These athletes play for top ranked Division 2 and 3 programs. Tier 3 defenders understand their strengths and play to them on the field. They can cover strong offensive threats and handle the ball with confidence. 

Tier 4 Defense NCSA Expert Notes:

Tier 4 defenders are good athletes, but they are the least skilled of the four tiers. These athletes typically compete at lower end Division 2 and 3 programs. Tier 4 defenders understand and contribute in team concepts and aid the defense with good communication. These athletes know their strengths and use them very well.

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Women’s lacrosse midfield skills and recruiting guidelines

  Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
Description Top D1 programs Lower D1 Top D2 and D3 Lower D2 and D3
Club Experience Multiple year Tournament All Star & MVP honors All Star Honors at multiple events All Star nominations and all tournament recognition Multiple year participant
High School Experience Top 3-5% in the country. 3-year varsity starter. All American and/or Nominee. All-state selection or multiple years nominated. Multiple seasons All State. Multiple years all region, area, county. 3-year varsity player and multiple sport varsity athlete. Club Travel team All Star Honors. Multiple year starter and/or contributor Multiple year member & starter
Avg. Height 5’11” 5’10” 5’8” 5’6”

Tier 1 Midfield NCSA Expert Notes:

Top end Division 1 lacrosse programs require student-athletes to have tier 1 level skills and experience. These athletes are strong two-way midfielders with great vision, strong defensive skills and the ability to create offense at will. These athletes are reliable in faceoffs and in transitions. 

Tier 2 Midfield NCSA Expert Notes:

While not as skilled or experienced as tier 1 midfielders, tier 2 midfielders are great athletes that have the talent needed to compete at lower end Division 1 programs. They demand attention on the offensive end and move the ball to allow for scoring opportunities. Tier 2 athletes are less dominating yet perform well under pressure to provide solid defense and faceoffs. 

Tier 3 Midfield NCSA Expert Notes:

Top Division 2 and 3 programs look for good athletes that meet the tier 3 criteria. These athletes understand their role on the field and play to their strengths as a difference maker, dodger and feeder. While not a regular go-to player, tier 3 midfielders are capable of being a go-to player on occasion. 

Tier 4 Midfield NCSA Expert Notes:

Lower end Division 2 and 3 programs recruit tier 4 midfielders who have room to improve. These athletes are less versatile and typically rely on a niche that they can truly perform well within. While they are not top scorers, they are strong contributors on offense and occasionally create scoring opportunities.

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Do you have to be a certain height or size to play women’s lacrosse in college? 

While lacrosse college coaches do reference average height and size guidelines, they do not hold fast to these guidelines the way other college sports do. College coaches allow themselves to think outside the height and size guidelines and evaluate the athlete as a whole during the recruiting process. Many college coaches have found that sometimes the most skilled, confident and competitive athletes don’t meet the height and size guidelines.

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Lacrosse IQ: How does it impact getting recruited?

College coaches look beyond athleticism and skill for what sets apart a good athlete from a truly exceptional one. Lacrosse IQ is one of the skills that college coaches look for when trying to make this distinction. Athletes with strong Lacrosse IQ have the ability to understand a strategy and pivot off this understanding when assessing a situation to take educated and thoughtful action, based on past experience. College coaches look for athletes with high lacrosse IQ during showcases, at prospective camps and in highlight video. Does the athletes truly understand the strategy behind a play? Does the athlete accurately evaluate a situation and take thoughtful action? Does the athlete have the experience to know when and how to take action during a play? 

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What do coaches want to see in your lacrosse recruiting video?

Student-athletes have about 30 second to catch the attention of a college coach during their recruiting video. It’s important that student-athletes start their video with a few impressive clips that really draw in the college coach’s interest. So, what do coaches look for in your lacrosse recruiting video? College coaches are looking for three main elements when watching recruiting video: versatility, lacrosse IQ and athleticism.

  • Versatility: Include a variety of plays that show college coaches the student-athletes is capable of more than one skill.
  • Lacrosse IQ: College coaches need athletes who can learn and execute plays but also think on their feet and make real-time decisions on the field. Include footage that showcases the student-athlete’s ability to evaluate a situation, develop a plan and successfully execute that plan.
  • Athleticism: Demonstrate that the student-athlete is more than just athletic. What coaches are really looking for is an athlete with stamina, strength and agility.

To learn more about creating a lacrosse recruiting video, visit our highlight video guide

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Where do coaches recruit lacrosse players?

Club tournaments, third party camps, college camps and high school games, offer student-athletes the best opportunities to be seen by college coaches. During the recruiting process, coaches attend these events to assess an athlete’s athleticism, sports IQ and versatility, as well as their ability to learn from instruction and drills, as well as how they perform in competition. These events also allow college coaches to connect with athletes and gauge their character. Student-athletes can visit our guide to camps and tournaments for a list of events near you.

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