high-school-lax-recruits-guide

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Otherwise let me start by saying, “It’s a jungle out there!”…

The skills to navigate the lacrosse recruiting process are completely different than the skills needed to become a better lacrosse player.

They’re two different animals.

For quite some time, I searched for an A to Z guide about lacrosse recruiting.

Couldn’t find anything…

I just added it to the list of my lacrosse recruiting frustrations.

There’s plenty of stuff  about where the top players are committing, etc. etc.

Not what I wanted.

Instead, I needed (I wanted) detailed information that explained the entire process.

Something that all players (from the best to the average) can use to gain a better understanding of how everything works.

And most importantly, how to use that to better position themselves in front of college coaches.

Seeing that one didn’t exist…

…well, I had to create one myself.

So…Let’s start at the very beginning.

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The Complete Guide to Lacrosse Recruiting:

What is Lacrosse Recruiting? (A Quick Overview)

How to Talk to Coaches (The Right Way)

How to Make a Highlight Video (Like a Pro)

Lacrosse Camps to Attend (Or Not)

Choosing to Play D1, D2, or D3 Lacrosse (Things to Consider)

How to Pick the Right Lacrosse College (And Be Happy)

Additional Lacrosse Recruiting Resources

What is Lacrosse Recruiting?

(And Why Is It Important?)

In the most basic terms, lacrosse recruiting is the process when a college lacrosse coach tries to convince a high school lacrosse player to play at their school.

It’s a two-way street.

For example –

Sometimes a college coach really pursues a kid.  The coach sees the kid as a “difference maker”…someone who can really add value to the team.

Or –

Sometimes a kid really pursues a school.  Like, “I really want to play at Duke.”

Or –

Sometimes a coach and kid mutually end up united.

The scenarios go on and on…

No matter how you cut it, the bottom line is this:

All coaches want to win.

Most are extremely competitive and hate to lose.

A huge part of being a good college coach is being able to recruit.

It’s a major part of their jobs (that is if they intend to keep their job).

They spend tons of time on this all year long.

Over the years, lacrosse recruiting has started earlier and earlier.

I call this the..

lacrosse-bobby-knightThe Bobby Knight Effect:

Let me explain…

{Brief trip back in time to the 1990’s}

I was a huge college basketball fan growing up.

(Still am, but just not as intense.)

My Dad constantly brought me to Providence Friars games.  When we weren’t there, we watched tons of other games on TV.

Bobby Knight was a huge coaching figure at that time.

(For those that don’t know, he coached Indiana for years…then later at Texas Tech.  He’s an ESPN commentator now.)

He commanded such attention.

Anyway, Coach Knight always had at least one star player.

Steve Alford was a big one.

Another was Damon Bailey.

Bailey never went on to have a big NBA career or anything like that.

But, he was extremely well known…even before he stepped foot on the Indiana Campus.

In fact, Coach Knight offered him a scholarship in 8th grade!

How crazy is that???

{Back to present day}

I coach lacrosse at Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C.

So far, I’ve witnessed two 8th graders verbally commit.

…Just like Damon Bailey did 20 years ago.

Lacrosse is becoming basketball in that regard.

Craziness.

This causes anxiety for lots of kids and parents.

Will you be left out if you’re not committed before your junior year?

In some parts of the country, it sure feels that way.

I bring this to your attention, just so you realize that the process starts early.

You need to be aware so that you’re not at a disadvantage simply because you waited too long to follow the roadmap.

What Else is Lacrosse Recruiting?

It’s a chase really.

Two different parties are pursuing each other.

There’s salesmanship.

There’s offers.

The coach offers a roster spot.

The kid commits to the school.

This same relationship occurs in all facets of life…

  • A company trying to attract top talent.
  • A guy trying to get a date.

It’s best to think of lacrosse recruiting in stages.

Let me touch on a few of the big ones…

How to Communicate with Lacrosse Coaches

best-lacrosse-coaches-recruiting
(Don’t do this….)

Ok, so this is a big one.

There’s 3 different types of communication…

Emails.

Phone calls & texts.

In person contact.

Obvious, I know.

What’s not obvious is…

All have different strategies, but let’s start with email.

The first email to any college coach is the Fishing Email.

BIG TIP = make things super easy for college coaches.

Your emails should contain the exact information they need.

The Fishing Email Essentials

(this helps save time by eliminating unnecessary back-and-forth communication):

  • All emails should be sent from the player
  • Cleary state your grade
  • Include contact information for your high school and/or club coach
  • A link for your Highlight Video
  • Include your current classes (an unofficial transcript if you have one)
  • Include your grades (no matter what time of year it is)
  • Include your playing schedule. Let them know where they can see you play
  • Include any standardized test scores (you won’t have any if you’re a still a freshman so don’t worry if that’s the case)
  • It needs to be tailored to each school (this is a big one…make sure you start it with “Dear Coach X” and not “Hey Coach”)
  • Quick update of what you’re doing (are you playing other sports, etc?)
  • Lastly, make sure to SPELL CHECK!


That’s a good start…

How to Make a Lacrosse Recruiting Highlight Video

lax-shooting-highlight-recruiting-video

These are crucial.

You need to have one.

When you start sending those Fishing Emails to coaches, highlight tapes are a critical component.

(I talk more about Fishing Emails in the Recruitment Roadmap…)

So do whatever is needed to get one.

Make sure it shows what you’re capable of as a lacrosse player…

Don’t make the college coach have to guess what player you are in the video.

Make it painfully clear who you are!

It’s best to think of highlight tapes as an iterative process…

Make that initial highlight tape around 3 minutes long.

Include a series of clips that really demonstrate your strengths.

Highlight tapes can be made from a simple hand help camera and a basic video editing software.

You’re gonna want to capture those clips and put them in order (remembering to  clearly label who you are).

Once your dialogue with coaches continues, you’ll want to send updated videos.

If certain coaches ask for full games, then send one over.

The best full games to send are those against strong competition.

Coaches want to see how you perform against other top players.

They don’t get any value from you scoring 5 goals against sub-par competition.

The beauty of the internet is how easy it is to send clips through email.

Gone are the days when college coaches have stacks of DVDs in the corner of their office just collecting dust.  Now, they can watch you play in a matter of seconds.

Those initial 2 minutes are huge.

You want to have clips that really show you making plays.

If you find it difficult to make a highlight video yourself, then there are plenty of services that you can hire for the job.

Your high school or club coach can help you with this as well.

Hotline Bling:

Lacrosse Recruiting Tips

Calls are a huge part of the recruiting process.  Coaches want to talk to their top prospects regularly.

A top recruit receives tons of recruiting calls from college coaches.

Texts are also huge.

There’s separate rules with calls for each division.

For example, Division 1 coaches can’t call or text recruits until the start of junior year.

(The rest of rules are spelled out in the Recruitment Roadmap.)

Recruits can always call coaches.

However, it can be tricky trying to catch them.

Often times, high school and club coaches help coordinate times for players to call college coaches.

The Exploratory Expedition

Coaches want recruits to get campus to check things out.

The initial visit includes a meeting with the coach and a tour of the school (including athletic facilities).

It’s a day trip.  Lasts a couple hours.

This visit serves dual purposes.

It gives the recruit (and parents) a chance to interview the coach and see the school.

Vice versa, it gives the coach a chance to interview the recruit (and parents).

Hence, my fancy title…The Exploratory Expedition.

Both parties are feeling each other out…exploring if you will.

Mind you (depending on distance), the initial visit is separate than the actual recruiting trip.

(With early recruiting, the actual recruiting trip can be a formality, certainly if the prospect already verbally committed.)

I suggest going on a bunch of these Exploratory Expeditions.

The more you see and experience, the better prepared you’ll be come decision time.

By Invitation Only

Lacrosse Recruits

If there’s a mutual interest between the coach and the recruit, then a recruiting trip is scheduled.

This is by invitation only.

The top programs have big budgets to really show recruits an awesome experience.

Some Division 1 schools even have the funds to pay for this trip.

Pretty cool, huh?!

A recruiting trip might take place over a weekend (or a single night…it varies).

It may include (some things may have occurred during the Exploratory Expedition):

  • A meeting with the coach
  • A tour of all the lacrosse facilities
  • A tour of the complete campus
  • A meeting with the academic advisors
  • An option to attend a class
  • Attend a practice
  • Attend a game
  • Attend another game (if lacrosse is out of season)

The recruit stays with a team member for either a night or two.

This allows the recruit to experience college life…

Sleeping in the dorm.

Eating in the dining hall.

Socializing with other team members.

All schools have some level of this.

(As I stated above, the recruiting trip can be a formality for some committed players.  After all, their decision is already made.)

Non-committed players use these recruiting trips to really help narrow their decisions.

lacrosse-recruiting-campsAttend a Lacrosse Recruiting Camp

The majority of these are during the summer.

But there’s also fall stuff.

Plus there’s college Prospect Days.

I’m guessing you’ve already figured out these aren’t cheap.

Coaches spend countless hours on the road driving from event to event.

…just trying to discover those players that fit their program’s needs.

My recommendation…choose wisely.

It makes no sense to attend an event if the coaches you’re trying to impress aren’t there.

Some due diligence is required to find out where they’re gonna be.

Choosing to Play D1, D2, or D3 Lacrosse

Initially, most kids want to play Division 1.  They want to play on the big stage come Memorial Day weekend…

(This is the case early on that is…I was in the exact same shoes.)

As they get older, these same kids start to gather more information about the different options.

They discover the lower tier Division 1 schools, the Division 2 schools, and the Division 3 schools…

As they dig deeper, they realize that there’s some damn good lacrosse being played at all levels.

It’s really interesting actually…(I learned this while I was in college and it was reinforced later when I was coaching in college…)

The talent gap between Division 1 and the other schools is very small (if it even exists at all).

Sure the top Division 1 schools have players with super talent, but outside that, it’s really compatible.

(I ended up playing at Tufts…Their team nowadays is just loaded with phenomenal lacrosse players.  Several players have been drafted to play in the MLL.)

Let me take some time to explain some of the differences between the divisions.

The two big ones are scholarships and time commitment.

The biggest different between Division 1 and 2 compared to Division 3, is that Division 3 can’t offer scholarships while the others can.

Fully funded Division 1 programs can offer 12.5 scholarships.

Fully funded Division 2 programs can offer 9 scholarships.

Division 3 can’t offer scholarships.

All divisions do have financial aid programs.

Next up…time commitment.

Division 1 is the biggest time commitment.  You can expect to have lacrosse related activities (practices, film sessions, and team lifts) for 3 to 4 hours a day.

This doesn’t include any additional time you require in the training room, etc.

So the hours can really add up.

Division 1 and Division 2 can have fall practices with games.

Some Division 3 programs aren’t allowed to have any official fall practices.  Some can.

Almost every Division 3 program has organized captains practices in the fall.  There’ll also be team lifts probably 3 times each week.

At Tufts, our strength coach ran those team lifts.

Come springtime, the Tufts season doesn’t start until February 20ish.

Whereas, Maryland starts spring practices in early January…

You’ll want to figure out how much lacrosse you want to play.

I’ve had the opportunity to play and coach in Division 3.

I’ve also coached in Division 1.

I spent 6 years at both levels, so really understand the differences between the two.

If you love lacrosse, then the time commitment required for Division 1 is awesome.  You’re around the game constantly, just trying to get better each day.

Although, the rules for Division 3 don’t allow for as much time with the coaches, there’s still a big commitment.

These are all good questions to bring up during your Exploratory Expeditions.

best-lacrosse-colleges-for-d1-d2-d3Factors to Consider when Choosing a School

There’s different stages when choosing a college.

The first stage is developing the list of schools that contain the elements your looking for.

Think broad initially.  This will allow you to get a feel for different offerings.

I recommend that initial list be a minimum of 10 schools.

Here’s some factors you want to consider….

  • Academics – Be realistic here. Make sure you look at schools that match your current ability and accomplishments to date.
  • Admissions/ability to be admitted – There’s no sense pursuing schools if there’s no shot you can get accepted. (Lacrosse may be able to help in the admissions process.)
  • Location of school – urban (city) / rural (country) – Are you looking for a city atmosphere with lots of action and people? Or, are you looking for a school located in the country where school life dominates.
  • Location of school – close/far from home – How far are you willing (or wanting) to travel from home?  Some kids want to be close to home.  Others want to get away for some time.
  • Size of school – There’s a huge range here. I went to Tufts with 5,000 students.  That’s on the smaller size.  Other schools in our league (like Bates, Bowdoin, and Amherst) were around 2,000 kids.  Then you have a school like Ohio State that has over 40,000 kids.  Take some time to figure out how big of a school you want.
  • State school/private school – State schools (if you’re a resident of that state) are often cheaper. There’s some really good ones out there as well (UVA and Michigan come to mind).  A lot of private schools have sterling reputations and have strong alumni networks (think Harvard, Stanford, and Yale).
  • Major – You might not have a clue on your path of study. All good, not to worry.  But those that do, make sure the schools you’re looking at offer those majors.  For example, you don’t want to attend a liberal arts school if you’re looking to study engineering.  Keep in mind, you may change your mind while at the school.  Tufts was awesome because it had both a liberal arts school and an engineering school.
  • Diversity of the school – Some schools attract a lot more diversity.  The student population of those schools spans the entire world.  Think about what you’re looking for here.  It’s great to get those experiences interacting with different cultures.
  • Values of the school – Some schools have reputations that you’ll want to consider. This kind of goes in line with school spirit.  Usually a school with strong values have tons of school spirit.
  • Academic support for student-athletes – When you start meeting with college coaches for Exploratory Expeditions, make sure to ask what types of academic support they offer. At Georgetown, there was a dedicated school employee who tracked and assisted with players academics.  Some schools have more than one.  I think Maryland has multiple employees for that.  They help set up study sessions and tutoring.  It can be really helpful for those students who need a bit more assistance with the study process.
  • Financial (can I afford it) – College tuition is expensive.  The upward trend isn’t ending anytime soon.  I bet Tufts is $60,000/year.  I went there over 10 years ago, and I think it was $45,000.  This is something that you need to spend a lot of time with.  Do you want to take out student loans and be burdened with debt post-college?  Can you parents cover the cost?  Is there any type of assistance or scholarships that the school is offering?
  • Social experience – The social experience can be a huge part of your experience. Are you looking for this?  You can get a sense for the social scene when you start going on overnight recruiting visits.  On those, you’ll be staying with another player on the team, and seeing first hand what the players do socially.  Other schools are “commuter” schools.  Meaning…a lot of kids go home on the weekends.  The social scene as these types of schools is much different.
  • Feel of campus – This can be factored in to your urban vs rural decision. Some urban schools don’t have the sprawling campuses that rural schools possess.  I loved Tufts because it had a great campus, but was also four miles from the heart of Boston.  Kind of the best of both worlds.  A school like Cornell has a beautiful campus with ravines.  It’s huge.  Basically it’s own town.
  • Big time sports – Are you looking to attend big time sporting events? I would go to tons of other sporting games at Tufts.  But it was a completely different experience than if attended Alabama.  Tufts probably attracted 1,000 people to football games.  Alabama gets about 90,000.  Just a completely different experience.
  • Athletic facilities – More and more schools are heavily investing in their athletic facilities. It’s pretty cool to have a dedicated all-year-long lacrosse locker room, a lacrosse weight room, a turf field, an indoor training facility, and an athletic training staff.  Some schools have all of this.  You can get a feel for how much a school cares about its athletics based on the investment put into the athletic facilities.   At times, college coaches win recruiting battles over players based on the athletic facilities.
  • Academic facilities – Just as you would evaluate the athletic facilities, you want to do the same with the academic facilities. Take a look at the different buildings where you’ll be taking classes.  Do you think they’ll help inspire and motivate you on a daily basis?  The last thing you want is to feel miserable walking into an old building where it’ll be hard to learn and concentrate.
  • Religious/non-religious – Some schools have a strong religious affiliations. Georgetown is a Jesuit school.  You’ll be required to take some religious classes to fulfill the necessary credits to graduate.  If this is something you won’t like, then make sure you find a school that doesn’t have that affiliation.
  • Lacrosse tradition – This can go either way really. Some schools just have great lacrosse traditions.  Think Syracuse, Virginia, and Hopkins…It just seems that these types of school are always in the mix come May playoff time.  Schools with strong lacrosse traditions exist in every division.  You can decide to attend a school that already has an established tradition, or you can go to a school in the hopes of starting a new one.  This is exactly what happened with me at Tufts.  Coach Daly was a new, young coach back in 2000.  He wanted to start a new Tufts lacrosse tradition.  We were his first recruiting class.  It’s awesome to see this tradition grow after the years continue to pass by.
  • Recent lacrosse success – Every year a new team pops into the mix. Recently you can point to Marquette and Richmond.  These schools have new lacrosse programs where the universities are invested in their success.  Playing for such schools can be very exciting.  On the other end, every year some schools may take a step back from the success they once celebrated.  As they say in finance, the past is guarantee of future success.  However, you can potentially spot trends and use intuition to gauge how things might look.
  • Likelihood of future lacrosse success – You can get a feel for where a program is heading to look at their records the past couple years, how the long the coach has been there, what their plan going forward is…stuff like that.
  • Head Coach – You’ll be around your head coach probably more than any other college employee during your time in college. You want to understand that, and get a feel for whether that will be a good or bad thing.  When talking to other current players on the team, get a feel for how they like the head coach.  That’ll be your best resource.  Also, it’s important to factor if he might retire soon.  Or…on the other hand, it could be his first year as a head coach.  It will take time for that person to grow as a head coach.  There’ll be learning experiences along the way.
  • Head Coach coaching style – This is a big one. Do you want to play for a hard disciplinarian?  Or would you rather play for a head coach who’s more laid back?  Getting yelled at constantly can get old for some kids.  Other kids thrive on that… It’s a major factor you want to consider.
  • Assistant coaches – Some college staffs have assistant coaches who have been around forever.  Others see assistants come and go.  It’s a great sign if assistants leave to become head coaches at other schools.  That signals that the head coach is a great molder of coaching success.  If assistants are leaving to take lateral jobs (meaning the same job at other schools), then you’ll want to dig a little deeper into why that is.

Great assistants are awesome.  You’re gonna be around them a lot.  They’re usually tasked with running the offense or defense.  Something like that.  Ask them if they intend to stick around if you’re worried they might leave.  You’ll get a good feel for their plans.

  • Support for lacrosse by administration – Some schools only really care about a few sports. It’s rather obvious because you can see the resources that are allocated to those sports and compare them to the others.  Other schools want every sports team to be great.  Think Stanford.  When you tour schools, you’ll get a sense of how the school views lacrosse based on the resources they have.  Take a look at the field, the weight room, the locker room…stuff like that.  Again, you can ask the head coach how the school supports lacrosse.  Maybe not a bad thing to inquire about.
  • Culture of lacrosse program (hard working/dedicated) – Some programs just constantly grind. There’s an expectation of excellence that is accomplished by constant, hard work.  Try to watch a practice (or team lift) if possible.  This will be the best indicator of how the players work and what the coaching philosophy is.
  • Relationships with current team members – This can be accomplished several ways. You can meet some current players at the school’s summer camp.  Try to talk to them about lacrosse and non-lacrosse stuff.  Also, you’ll obviously get a feel for the vibe of the team on your overnight recruiting visit.  Take mental notes and then determine if you could see yourself fitting in.
  • Team values (ethics, morals, community service, good people) – When you have your introductory meeting with the coach, try to get a sense of what the team does in addition to lacrosse. You might discover some cool team bonding events that they do every year.  This could help influence your ultimate decision.
  • Life skills (develop students for life after college) – This goes along with the majors offered at the school and the alumni network. Find out where graduates typically go on to work.  (At Georgetown, a lot of lacrosse players would head to New York City to work in finance.)  One other thing to consider…there’s a lot of college coaches who are extremely disciplined and organized.  The habits that they use to run their teams can easily be adopted for your personal life.  This will help you grow and evolve after college.
  • Alumni connections/ Job network – This is a big one.  Playing college lacrosse for 4 years is a special experience.  Those that finish are part of a special family.  A family that you can rely on for the remainder of your life.  Some programs have super strong alumni connections.  You can find this out by asking the coach and current players.  Try to find out where kids go on to work.  Also make sure to ask if they have any events where players get to meet the alumni in person.
  • Ability to contribute on the ream relatively early – Some schools have tons of talent. You need to ask yourself if playing immediately is a priority.  If it is, then you might want attend a school where you know that will happen.  If not, you should be prepared to work hard for two years to hopefully get playing time come your junior year.
  • Will be happy at school if injured and can’t play – This is a big one…Imagine the hypothetical if you walked on campus the first day of your freshman year and got hurt.  The injury prevented you from ever playing lacrosse again…would you still be happy at that school?  At times, kids pick schools solely for lacrosse.  Throwing all the eggs into that basket can be risky…Put some serious thought into this…
  • Additional considerations – This is unique to you.  Do you have other specific things your looking for in a school?  An example might be if you’re allowed to study abroad?  Some teams want you around in the fall so that option doesn’t exist.

There you have it…

A complete guide to lacrosse recruiting.

There’s a lot more to the story.  But this is good for starters.

Read through it again.

Start taking control over your lacrosse recruiting.

Talk soon,

Coach Miller

Our Top Resources on Lacrosse Recruiting:

#1 -Lax Recruitment Killers

Lacrosse Recruits

Lax Power 

US Lacrosse

Lax Magazine

lacrosse-recruitingLacrosse Recruiting: [How To] Guide for High School Playershttp://lacrossescoop.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Lacrosse-Recruiting-Guide.jpghttp://lacrossescoop.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Lacrosse-Recruiting-Guide-150x150.jpgSeanRecruitingListen up: If you want a short-cut to recruiting, go checkout this video series now: Recruiting Short-Cut (VIDEO) (There's a short survey. Definitely fill that out) Otherwise let me start by saying, “It’s a jungle out there!”… The skills to navigate the lacrosse recruiting process are completely different than the skills needed to...