Navigating the System

College Recruiting Guide

College Recruiting is a system like any other. Each college has a few variations within the system, but for the most part they all operate the same way. Therefore, it is our goal to help our athletes and parents understand the system so they feel confident, competent and capable of navigating it with ease and comfort.

The System

Every college is trying to find and recruit the best field hockey players possible. Their scouting process is to:

  1. Go to club tournaments – local and national – and watch and evaluate players. Except on rare occasions, coaches will watch players they are interested in MANY times before making any decisions. They are looking for talent, athleticism, potential, work ethic, attitude, team spirit, technique, height, strength…

  2. Talk to club coaches about potential players that might be a good fit for their program.

  3. Use Coach Packet - a software company that helps college coaches track athletes at tournaments nationwide
  4. Send a potential recruit information about the school and field hockey program.

  5. Make contact with the player – up until September 1st of the junior year of high school when coaches can send athletes emails, college coaches will go through the club coach to make contact and request that the player and parents contact the coach personally.

  6. Coaches want to get to know the player, talk to them on the phone, email them, and have them visit the campus if possible.

  7. Coaches determine the ranking of players they are interested in by position and then offer a scholarship when they feel they have a good understanding of the player, their goals, and their ability to have a positive impact on the program.

  8. There are subtleties to this process – so ask your recruiting coordinator for help!

Take Action

  1. Establish your goals and the level you want to play at. Your club and/or high school coach should be able to help you determine which level you are capable of playing at. However, I always encourage the athlete to trust their own interpretation of their ability to succeed. As an example, many players are not considered very good and then 6 months later they are a top 20 recruit simply because something clicked or they grew 6 inches. So, be honest with yourself, and encourage your coach to be honest with you, but also believe in yourself and don’t be shy about your aspirations.

  2. Consider what level of investment and effort you want to put into college field hockey. Conferences like the Pac-10 are extremely competitive and require the athlete to make a big commitment time-wise, emotionally, physically and mentally. Conferences and schools with less pressure on athletics and winning will require less commitment and provide more balance. However, big time athletic schools for the most part do take good care of their athletes and provide excellent services to help them succeed in all areas. So, this is an important thing to consider when determining at what level you want to play.

  3. Make a list of schools you’re interested in. More is not always better. Be thoughtful in your selection and remember that you can always take schools off your list and put new ones on. Some of the criteria you want to consider are:

    • Head Coach – personality, style, success, reputation…

    • Training Philosophy – positive, technical, difficult, demanding…

    • Academics – major, degree notoriety

    • Level of Play

    • Conference

    • Location – there are A LOT of great schools outside CA! Look!

    • Town and State – is it your style, or something new?

    • Team Dynamics

    • Campus – feel, ease of getting around

    • Support Services

    • Scholarship commitment (full, half, partial)

    • College atmosphere – sports, arts, activities

    • Feeling – emotional connection with coach, team, school…

  4. Make a bio and a video if possible.

    • Email your bio and tournament schedule to the schools on your list

    • Build a YouTube page for your videos and email coaches the link with your bio (make dvds and mail but YouTube is cheaper and greener)

    • Your videos do NOT need to be special in any way. In fact, they want them very very simple. They want to see you PLAY (best filmed from the back of the court and a static position), and some skill work. Errors are okay – do NOT over-edit tapes. They are simply looking for technique, athleticism, feel and potential.

  5. Your information will be entered into Coach Packet with your membership in USAFH. This is the recruiting aid used by coaches attending all the USA FH tournaments.  They use the software to track you, rate you and find your schedule at tournaments. After the tournament is over they can watch a full game video of your games.

  6. Have your club coach or recruiting director contact a coach at your top schools to see what their interest level is.

  7. HContact the coaches of the schools you’re interested in by phone – especially if they’re interested in you. You want to establish a relationship with them as soon as possible. Ask them how often they would like you to keep in touch so that you can stay connected. Do NOT be afraid to CALL! They are very good at talking to perspective athletes and their parents and you should feel confident that they will be able to focus the conversation in the right direction. When you get really serious you want to ask the college coach some straightforward questions:

    1. Where do you see me fitting into your program?
    2. Do you have any scholarships for my graduating year?
    3. How many other girls are you looking at for my graduating year?
    4. If they’re not interested, what can you do to get them interested?
    5. What type of coach are you?
    6. What type of training do you do?
    7. Would you say you’re a positive coach?
    8. How do you help the players to succeed off the field?
    9. What type of support services does the University offer athletes?
    10. What type of players do you recruit?
    11. What do you see as the future for your program?
    12. Are the field hockey player’s friends with other athletes?
    13. Bottom Line: ASK QUESTIONS!!!
  8. Do your homework. Learn about the school, the town, the field hockey program. See if it is a place you want to live for 4+ years.
  9. Visit the school. If you’re not a senior you may make an unofficial visit to the campus. You can call to set this up with the coach yourself or you can have your club coach help you. Try to stay at least one night and see the team practice or play. You will want to meet the coaches and the team as well as tour the campus and get to know the facilities and athletic department staff. Make sure to ask the players questions about the coach, the school and their overall experience.

  10. Compare and contrast the top schools that remain in your top 3 or 5. Talk with your parents and/or coaches about the positives and negatives and ultimately listen to yourself about what feels right to you. Try to be really honest with yourself about what you want and what you’re getting yourself into. Making a commitment just to make one doesn’t usually work out in the long run for you or the school. Be thoughtful and take your time on making your decision. Try to make decisions about things that will really affect your life in college – not your clothing colors, your mascot name, or the baseball or football team.

  11. Make a commitment to the school that is the right fit for you. Depending on when you commit, you will “sign” a letter of intent from the University your senior year of high school.


Disclaimer – this information is provided to be helpful in the recruiting process. It is not fact and you are encouraged to learn from your own experience and trust your own opinions and process.