A Guide for Parents | KTA Recruiting
Connecting you with College Coaches

A Guide for Parents

The following information is meant to serve as a resource to introduce parents of college-bound athletes to the recruiting process. Our hope is to provide some helpful insights and education. Please do not construe anything here as legal advice or guarantee of recruitment.

The Recruiting Process

As a parent or guardian, you’ve worked hard to raise your athlete. You’ve taken them to youth sports practices and watched them grow into a young adult who is now considering the next step in athletics. Playing collegiate sports is a very special achievement, reached by only a select few. It takes both great athletic and academic talent to succeed at this level.

Your athlete's college selection is likely the most important choice they’ve ever had to make. This is not just a four-year commitment; it’s a decision that will shape their adult life and their future career will be influenced by the quality of education they receive and the degree they earn. While selecting a college to compete for is ultimately their choice, your life experiences, knowledge, and ability to research critically are an important element. 

Being prepared

Before going into the recruiting process it’s important to set realistic goals and expectations. Your son or daughter’s current coach is an excellent resource in developing an idea of what college level would be appropriate. He/she should also be able to supply game film you can use to create a highlight video. Once you know which college levels your athlete will likely succeed at you’ll want to read and explore information about them. We’ve provided a quick resource on the different divisions:

Since every school is different it is important to identify and prioritize those characteristics that are most important to your athlete and your family before going into the process. Friends, coaches, and especially college coaches/recruiters will offer their opinions and try to influence where your athlete should go. The key is knowing your own values and sticking to them as you evaluate the various strengths and weaknesses of the colleges your athlete is considering. This concept is so important that we add it as part of our Recruiting Checklist and sign up process.

How to Make it Happen

Getting your athlete out and noticed by college coaches is important. You cannot expect their current coach do all the recruiting work. Many coaches take pride in getting their athletes to the next level, but not all do. 

As a college football coach I contact about 1000 high schools a year asking for a list of top prospects. Sending out an email to all of them at once I can count on getting about 50 emails back within the first week. I have to follow up weekly with emails and calls to fill in the rest. Coaches are very busy, that’s the nature of it, we all understand. Unless you are a top Division I school you can’t expect high school coaches to jump when you make a request.”

- Current Division II Assistant Football Coach in West Virginia

We offer a service with the goal of connecting athletes with college coaches across the nation. By uploading a profile with highlights and relevant information we’re able to present your athlete to coaches in all corners of the country. This equates to many more college options, better chances at scholarships, and maximized odds of playing at the highest level possible. This is obviously a shameless pitch for our service, but if you are curious you can read more about What We Do right here. We are an effective (and cost effective) alternative to the big companies.

The initial process

Just like in advertising, if no one knows about your athlete no one will be recruiting him/her. You have to get out there. College coaches will frequently contact thousands of high school coaches to get massive lists of potential recruits to sort through, but this is a shot in the dark and the coach might not necessarily recommend your son or daughter.

Using a recruiting service like ours is an easy, effective, and inexpensive way (a few dollars a month) to allow coaches from all over the country to find your athlete. We also provide a professional template for emailing an introduction to any college coach. They get lots of emails a day about potential athletes and first impressions are important. When they get a proper email with quick links to highlights and a complete profile there is a greater chance that you will be noticed at the next level.

I get emails all the time from potential recruits trying to spark my interest. I have a rule, if they can't write in complete sentences or capitalize the letter "i" then I'm not interested."

- Current Division III Men's Basketball Head Coach 

Getting noticed

When college coaches notice your athlete he or she will begin getting phone calls, emails, texts, and letters. Here are a few tips:

  • Maintain good notes on each school that contacts your athlete.
  • Correlate the strengths and weaknesses of schools to his/her and your family’s priorities.
  • Try not to ignore calls from distant area codes; it might be a coach calling.
  • Don't be surprised if the coach gives you a pitch on the school too! College coaches understand the influential role parents play in the decision process and want to sell you on their school as well.
  • Make sure your athlete calls coaches back after they've left messages or emails. Try to get them in the habit of being a young professional. Eventually, if a coach doesn't receive a response back from a recruit they'll assume he or she isn't interested and move on to other fish in the sea.
  • Social media has become a suprisingly major tool for coach-athlete communication. Any half decent coach is going to vet your athlete with a social media "background check," reading over whatever they've posted going back years. They are looking for any kind of behavioral red flags. It's worth emphasizing to your athlete their social media is being examined, and to make smart posts or clean up past unwise content.

Gaging Interest

Coaches deal with thousands of recruits and have very limited and often rule-restricted times for contact. Here are some ways college coaches will contact your athlete and what goes on behind the scenes:

Mass Emails

"Dear [First Name]
We've selected you as an elite player for our 2015 recruiting class. Our fine program can offer you X, Y, and plenty of Z......"

They've collected hundreds or thousands of names and are trying to put out some feelers to see who's interested. Often they'll ask your athlete to fill out a questionnaire. Check out the school, if you like what you see you can fill it out or contact them back with a quick email or phone call. This will put your son/daughter on their list as an interested athlete. Expect to receive more personal attention from then on.

Mass Texts

"Hey [First Name], good luck in your game this week!"

"Hey [First Name], how was your most recent game?

"[First name], how is your season going?"

Coaches contact thousands of recruits this way using specialty software programs. Its a method of appearing personal without texting every single person individually. It means that your son/daughter is on their list of active recruits and they want to keep them interested. If your athlete replies back you can expect a coach to respond.

Personal Texts

This is a quick way for coaches to stay in close contact with players. Often times both parties are very busy and this ensures that a small message gets delivered.

Personal Phone Calls

This is a significant time investment by a coach. A phone call is a great sign that your student athlete is high on their list. Usually a certain coach will be assigned to recruit your area, or recruit a certain position. Phone calls are a great time to build a relationship with a coach and begin to get an idea of what the school will offer.

General Letters

These are sent out regularly to athletes who coaches have identified as good players. They're contacting hundreds or thousands hoping to spark interest and usually have a questionnaire to be filled out and returned. If the questionnaire is returned, or if contact is made in some way, expect to be given more personal attention.

Personal Letters

If a coach took time out of his day to send your athlete something it’s likely they are quite interested. A hand written letter signifies an even bigger gesture.

Game Visit

A coach traveling to attend a game can mean several things. If this coach hasn't contacted the athlete before it may be a general scouting trip or his/her college wants to show their colors at your school to spark interest on a general level from the team members.

If this coach has already been in contact with your athlete you can safely assume they are very interested. They are trying to build a relationship with the athlete by coming to be a part of the performance experience and see them compete. Consider the distance they had to travel and give them due credit if they've come a long way.

School Visit

During certain times of the year a coach might stop by a school to meet athletes, shake hands, and give his/her pitch in person. Coaches stop by many schools and will request to chat with certain athletes but High School or Junior College coaches can also recommend other athletes for them to talk to.

In-Home Visit

This is a big commitment from a coach. It requires travel, planning, and means he or she has dedicated hours of valuable time for a shot at signing your athlete.

You, the Coaches, and your Athlete's Personality

It is worth mentioning that college coaches are very interested in learning everything they can about prospects. There are many fish in the sea, and are likely evaluating your athlete closely to compare against others. Understand that these coach's success, reputations, and employment status depend on signing the best young people they can. Personality issues are big red flags. A major indicator for coaches is how your athlete interacts with you. 

No way we offer a kid who's rude to their mom. That's why we tour them around as a family. It's why we sit with them for a meal or go visit them at home. If they are rude to their parents in front of us, I can't imagine what kind of cancer they'd be in our program. I want young men who were raised right." 

-Current NAIA Football Assistant Coach in Ohio

Another point coaches look at when they meet your athlete is how they are dressed. The recruitment process is often compared to a lengthy job interview, and while the athletes don't necessarily need to go all out on formal wear (but see the quote below), their clothing can be indicative of an issue.

I once had a Tackle prospect show up at one of our recruiting events in a full tux, Step Brothers style. A 6'6" lineman with a big beard and a tux. It was hilarious, he was hilarious, totally my type of kid. On the flip side, I once had a kid show up in a shirt that had a pot leaf design. Not who we want to recruit."

-Former Division II Offensive Line Coach in Illinois

A safe bet for most recruiting events, game visits, and coach visits is to be somewhere between casual and a little dressed up. A letterman's jacket for your athlete is always good and ensures coaches and staff know exactly who they are and what school they're from. Another quick tip would be to avoid clothing with the branding of another college. 

How your athlete introduces themself is also important. Many coaches seriously evaluate if a prospect can look them in the eyes and give them a firm handshake, and if they can speak with confidence.

On recruiting event days, where we'd have about 30 prospects and their families on campus, we'd get into the office that morning, watch all their film and rank them. Then we'd do the event, meet them all, have them introduce themselves and their families to the group, and do all the normal recruiting day fun. When we'd meet back as a staff afterwards we ranked each prospect on their handshake and how they did talking to the rest of the group. We wanted to identify leadership potential. It mattered to us."

-Former NAIA Assistant Football Coach in Kentucky

It isn't to say coaches don't ever consider offering an athlete with a checkered past or a few personality flaws, but it is definetly something the coaches will evaluate. Investing a scholarship is not done lightly. When they are making those tough ranking decisions, splitting hairs over athletisiscm, you don't want any red flags coming up for your athlete. 

Campus Visits

Expect an overnight visit to be offered to your athlete at some point if a coach is truly interested. A visit to a school's campus is a great way to evaluate how well it meets the needs and expectations of your athlete - in other words to see if it is a good “fit.”  It also provides a great opportunity for your athlete to get to know the current team members away from coaches, showing them a true representation of the college. The following is a list of some important things to consider:


  • How much do they want your athlete?
  • Are your athlete’s strengths compatible with their style of play or system?
  • How are they personally?
  • What is their commitment to helping their athletes succeed academically? What support is offered?
  • How likely is it that they will leave soon for a new job?

Current members of the team

  • Are they welcoming?
  • Do they have positive things to say about their experience in the program?

Athletic facilities

  • Is there a commitment on the part of the school to invest in athletics infrastructure and equipment?

Academics & Campus facilities

  • What size is the school? Is it a university or a small liberal arts college?
  • What is the school’s mission?
  • Will the available academic programs meet the needs of your student athlete? Are these accredited programs?
  • What is the reputation of the school academically?
  • What is the ratio of instructors to students?
  • Are post-graduate studies available?
  • Are the buildings, grounds and student housing adequate and well maintained?
  • Be sure to tour typical student housing and inquire about what types are available. Some campuses offer a variety of options including co-ed dorms, apartment or suite-style dorms and fraternal living arrangements.

Campus Community

  • What is the culture of the college and the student body?
  • Are they supportive of athletics?
  • What kind of campus life is there?
  • Does the school embrace diversity?
  • Does it have a reputation as having either a very liberal or very conservative culture? Is it a strict and dry campus or considered a "party school?"
  • Is there strong alumni support?

Location of the school

  • Is it in an urban setting or a small college town?
  • Will distance or travel from home present a hardship?

Fly-in visits

Some schools will even offer fly-in visits to recruits who live a great distance from the school. This can occur at any level, but will often be very limited. There are different rules about taking visits such as this for coaches and athletes to follow. 

The bottom line is that if a school is recruiting your athlete from a state far away it may be possible for a visit to occur without it being on your dime. If a school is of great interest then ask the coach if a fly-in would be possible. At larger schools athletic teams have corresponding big budgets and can move mountains to make it happen. Smaller schools may still have a fly in programs but will be limited to only their top prospects. If a small Division III school offers your athlete a fly-in you're definitely in good shape. Note, however, that not all schools will offer fly-in visits.

Celebrating the decision

The passing from one era of their athletic career to the next is an important step and should be celebrated in our opinion. This is a culmination of years of hard work. Remember that this is a forty-year commitment for them, not just a four-year one. Their future career and life will be built on the educational foundation they establish in college. We'd recommend hosting a private party for them, family, friends, and any coaches they've had along the way. Many high schools will host events on signing day for athletes who've made their decision. These are fun ways to celebrate their athletic achievements, put an exclaimation point on their high school playing career, and be recognized by their classmates. Take lots of pictures and remember that you've been a big part of this. Note that most college coaches are not allowed to attend these events.

From all of us here at KTA Recruiting, we wish you and your family success in the recruiting process!