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Recruiting 101
Countdown: How to Make a Strong College Recruiting Video
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The recruiting process can be such a confusing time - so many NCAA rules dictating what can be done when and by whom - but one thing is crystal clear: If you want to get on the coach's radar at the college of your dreams, you need a college video. Wait... Can't you get a college scholarship without a college recruiting video? Sure, there are players who college coaches have been interested in since they were as young as 12, 13, 14 years old. But if you're not one of those players, you need a college video.

HIGH-TECH TENNIS TIP: Start early - even as early as your sophomore year - with an email to introduce yourself to the coach. Why not attach a 4-6 minute highlight video from a recent match including an intro and 15-25 good points from the match?

We started recording match play videos for players at tournaments in the Southern Section in early 2006. We were just beginning to understand what athletes in other sports already know: Video is an incredible training tool.

Then, in May of 2006, the father of a young lady in Duluth, Ga., contacted us with this unusual request: "My daughter needs a college video. Can you help us?" The very first thing we (Danny) did was contact several college coaches that we knew and asked for their help with questions like this: "What are you looking for?" "What are you not looking for?" "How can we be of service?"

Well, this is an inexact science, and if you approach ten college coaches with these questions, you'll likely get ten different answers. We did! Everyone has their own idea, but when we broke it down to its simplest form, we quickly realized that coaches wanted to see live match play.

But that was just the beginning! Consider these lessons learned...

Contacting a college coach in pursuit of a college scholarship is serious business, and it needs to be handled in a serious way. We learned that a busy college coach is only going to watch a minute or two (if that) of your college video, so the very last thing you want to do is send them a video from an entire match - when you're double faulting into the net or when both players are chasing balls so the coaches doesn't even realize which players they are supposed to be watching.

HIGH-TECH TENNIS TIP: As a student-athlete, you should set up your own email just for recruiting purposes. Many coaches have shared that it's a big negative when the first contact is made by the parent and not the student. We understand why they say that because it even impresses us when a student contacts us directly to set up his or her own appointment, instead of relying on their parents to arrange everything for them so all they have to do is just show up.

College coaches recognize and appreciate recruits who are professional enough to send a link to an online video so the coach doesn't have to load disks, etc. When our nephew (who was the assistant baseball coach at Bucknell University at the time) came to Atlanta to scout baseball players in East Cobb, he spent the night with us, and we saw that he had a garbage bag full of DVDs and VHS tapes! He told us he didn't even know who was who, and that's when we learned how important it is for recruits to introduce themselves at the very beginning of their video. He also told us something else that caught our attention: one of the kids had made a video, uploaded it to YouTube and sent it to him via email. Remember, this was 2006 - and YouTube was less than a year old (!) so it was a new idea, and the way that kid submitted his video stood out in the coach's mind because it was new and impressive. Almost as soon as Dartfish.TV became available, we launched our channel - called HIGH-TECH TENNIS TV - for just that purpose.

HIGH-TECH TENNIS TIP: We think recruits take their chances by sending a YouTube video because it automatically creates a playlist of similar (recruiting) videos that displays on the right side of the coach's screen. What that means is that the coach can review your video - but then there's a list of other videos that he or she can check out. When you send a video from our Dartfish.TV channel (HIGH-TECH TENNIS TV), your video is the only one that plays.

At a minimum, recruits should tell the coach their name, where they're from and when they will graduate, followed by any other information they can think of to promote themselves. A recruiting video that can be sent to hundreds of coaches means hundreds of first impressions, and that's when we learned how important it is that the first impression is impressive!

HIGH-TECH TENNIS TIP: The beauty of being able to send an email link of your video to hundreds of coaches is great but, realistically, you may want to narrow down your search to 10 or so. If you are a 2-star on TennisRecruiting.net, look at where recruits from the previous graduating class went and check out those schools. Do a little research of the school's tennis teams, and see how many juniors and seniors are on the team.

Also, lots of college coaches recognize the power of Dartfish, so when they receive a recruiting video that's hosted on a Dartfish TV channel (like HIGH-TECH TENNIS TV), they appreciate that because it indicates the recruit is serious.

It's very important for your video to contain a variety of shots, not just a few forehand and backhand winners. Can the coach see that you know how to set up a point, to finish a point and what about your footwork? We learned the importance of capturing enough content so that we can isolate and feature specific highlights that show the recruit in the most positive way.

We've attended several college tennis forums where parents have the opportunity to ask questions of a panel of college coaches. There was one coach who taught us two valuable lessons: he loves to receive recruiting videos but he won't watch for longer than 6 minutes and 30 seconds. He was likely joking about that precise duration, but the point was clear - don't send a video that is ten (or more!) minutes long.

Another coach simply skips over videos that are obviously homemade because he is only interested in recruits that take this seriously. From that, we understood that parents shouldn't pinch their pennies with something as serious as a potential scholarship.

We also learned from another coach that recruits are the ones who should be contacting the colleges (not the recruits' parents), and it is unforgivable to submit a letter to a specific school in which you state how much you've always wanted to play for another school.

We took meeting minutes from the most recent College Tennis forum that we attended at Windward Lake Club last fall, and you can read them by clicking here. We also contacted a number of our previous customers with players who'd already been through the recruiting process to ask them to share words of wisdom or things they wish they'd known before they went through the process. By far the most common response is they wish they'd started earlier! We gathered HIGH-TECH TIPS (Thoughtful Insights For Prospective Student-Athletes) from parents and coaches of players who went to Division I, II and III colleges, and you can read their responses by clicking here.

With all the recent changes that have come to junior tennis, we often ask recruits this important question: "What are the chances that the coach from the college of your dreams will actually see you play - and not only that - will actually see you play your best tennis?" Clearly, the chances are slim to none. Of course the players at the tip-top of the rankings will continue to be recruited... but what about everyone else? If you want to play college tennis, there is a college out there for you... You just have to work hard and promote yourself. If you don't do it, who will?

Coaches want to see match play in a college recruiting video
We are proud to have helped hundreds of players get on the coach's radar and this testimonial from one of our earliest customers still means a lot to us: "After all the time and effort you've invested on behalf of your child, this is the best money you'll ever spend to get them well-deserved exposure! This is truly a great product, and your satisfaction is guaranteed."
 

If you're serious about playing college tennis, we're serious about wanting to help. We've spent the past 8 years helping tennis players achieve their goals - We would love to help you achieve your goal! Contact HIGH-TECH TENNIS today - and let's get started!

 

More Countdown Coverage

Tomorrow we get another commitment profile - this time from 5-Star senior and Brown commit Aaron Sandberg. Find out why Sandberg chose the Bears over other Ivy League schools.

Check out our complete coverage schedule below - and read any articles you might have missed in our exclusive coverage of the Countdown to Signing Day!

 
 
 

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Colette Lewis has covered topflight junior events as a freelance journalist for over a decade. Read her weekly column, follow her on Twitter, and and find more of her daily commentary at ZooTennis.
 
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Page updated on Tuesday, March 15, 2016
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