Getting Recruited to Play D1 Lacrosse (Part 2):
Alright, you have decided that you want to play Division 1 Lacrosse after reading about how hard it is. Playing for a Division 1 school can be one of the most incredible, life-changing events that you will ever do. It is the highest amateur level in the sport of lacrosse, and you’ll be playing against the very best.
Everyone’s recruiting path is different, so there is no “one size fits all” cookie-cutter guide, but this is as close as it gets.
*Note: Make sure you read the recruiting rules before starting your search process.
Getting recruited can be challenging, but if you follow these steps, you can increase your chances of getting seen by coaches significantly. Here are the main things you need to do: Lacrosse-specific training, Set expectations, College research, Club teams/Prospect Camps/Showcases 4) Film 5) Email Outreach. We will go over all of these.
If you want to play Division 1 Lacrosse, you have to be an exceptionally great lacrosse player. You can go to every tournament, make a professional highlight reel, send great emails, but if you aren’t performing extremely well, you probably won’t get recruited. Take a significant amount of time out of your days to practice your game. You should be getting 10+ hours a week of training every week if you’re serious about being recruited. There are many different sides to training for lacrosse (conditioning, shooting, dodging, etc.), and you need to take each one seriously. If you’re lazy, good luck in the recruiting process, because you’re on your own.
College research is a great way to give yourself an advantage over other recruits. First of all, set your expectations of what kind of college you want to attend. Do you care more about academics or lacrosse? Do you want a big school or small liberal arts school? Here’s a breakdown of the different d1 colleges by category to get you started:
Colleges Based on Prestige:
1) Blue Chip Colleges: Places like Syracuse, Duke, UNC, Hopkins, UVA. These colleges are usually in the top 20 every single year and usually appear in the NCAA tournament. Obviously, these are the hardest colleges to get recruited by, so be realistic about your chances.
2) Middle-Tier Colleges: Places like Lehigh, Bucknell, Air Force, Richmond, etc. These colleges are usually in the top 40 rankings and often times a few will appear in the Top 20 depending on the year. Recruiting is still very competitive.
3) Lower-Level Colleges: Places like VMI, Lafayette, Siena, etc. These colleges are usually towards the bottom of the lacrosse rankings, but it doesn’t mean they do not have a chance to become great programs. Recruiting is competitive, but definitely achievable if you are a great player.
*Note: This is not supposed to be a debate about which colleges are “blue chip” and “middle tier.” I left out many schools from each list, and you can argue that some colleges belong in different categories. This is supposed to give you a general idea.
Big Colleges (D1 Atmosphere, other big sports):
University of North Carolina, University of Maryland, Ohio State University, Rutgers University, Penn State University, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, among others.
Great Academic Schools:
Any Ivy League School (Harvard, Penn, Brown, etc.), Duke, Army/Navy/Air Force, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown
*Note: There are so many great schools that are not on the “great academic schools list.” I just included these as the ones that most non-lacrosse fans would know.
New Programs (within last 5 years):
Richmond, Marquette, Boston U, Utah, St. Bonaventure, etc.
Now that you have a good idea of what type of college you would like to attend, it is time to do some more research about the colleges. If you are a midfielder, do they have 6 incredible midfielders on the team that aren’t graduating soon? Are they about to graduate a heavy senior class? These questions are important, because you do not want to end up at a college that already has players at your position that you will not be able to start over. For example, if you were an attackman for Maryland last season (2017), it probably was not a great year for you, as the starting 3 attackmen were seniors with proven track records. Next year, however, Maryland has 3 vacant spots at attack, so it would be a great time to be an attackman there. Are you ok with getting limited playing time for a year?
Club Teams/Prospect Camps/Showcases:
Finding a spot on a quality club team can be great for recruiting. The most valuable part of a club team is a coach who is well-connected. If you can find someone who has relationships with college coaches that vouch for you, you are in a great position to be recruited. Some elite club teams that come to mind are the Baltimore Crabs, Sweetlax, Team 91 Lacrosse, Mesa, as well as many more. At this point, there’s a good chance that there is a club team in your state. If there is not, there are plenty of players who play for a club team not in their state. Club teams usually do the bulk of their travel in the summer, but the fall has become a prime spot for weekend tournaments.
A great option for recruits who might not be able to play for a club team is a prospect camp. Prospects camps are held by a school where coaches can evaluate players on their campus. Nearly every school has a prospect camp, so look around and find one that is right for you. Make sure the camp seems like a quality one, because often times prospect camps can be “money grabbers” for coaches who are usually underpaid. Often times big-name schools will send you emails telling them that they want YOU to come to their prospect camp. Most of these are chain emails that are sent to thousands of people across the country. For example, if you think you probably fit at a lower-level college and a top 5 colleges emails you an invite to their prospect camp, it’s most likely a good idea to pass on it.
Another great option for recruits are showcases. Showcases allow a player to play in front of a wider variety of colleges coaches, as opposed to a prospect camp that has primarily coaches from one school. Much like prospect camps, showcases can certainly be low-quality “money grabbers” that do not provide value to players. Usually the more selective the camp, the more prestigious it is.
*Warning: All of these options require a significant amount of money to participate in. Camps, travel, and club dues can add up. Be prepared to make an investment if you want to do go this route.
In this digital era, there is no excuse for not having plenty of film for coaches to see. Everyone should have a short (3-5 minute) highlight reel that showcases the best parts of your game. For example, if you primarily play on the crease, don’t have a bunch of dodging on your highlight reel. If you are a close defender, don’t put a bunch of LSM shifts you took against a team that you beat by 10 goals. Players these days love to have crazy music and special effects, but the best idea is to keep it simple. If you decide to play music behind the reel, make sure it does not have explicit words and is pleasant enough for a coach to listen. Here’s an example:
Another great thing to have at your disposal is a full-game or half-game that you played well in. If you had a hat trick and 2 takeaways against a top high school team, it would be a good idea to show it to a coach. Everyone looks good in highlight reels, but a full game that you performed well in is a huge plus.
If you do email outreach right, you can greatly increase your chances of getting recruited.
Coaches do not want to see a general email that you send to 100 different colleges. Instead, take the time to make emails personalized. Make sure you address the coach with their name (and that it’s spelled correctly!), not just a general greeting. In the email, include a few reasons why you like the college or the team. Showing a coach that you did research about their college can be huge. Remind the coach of a few tournaments that you plan on attending, and include your team/jersey number if applicable.
After every tournament, prospect camp, and showcase, email the coach thanking them for coming. Do not be discouraged if coaches do not respond right away, they are receiving thousands of emails every year with kids begging them for a spot on their roster.
If you follow these steps, you will put yourself in a better position to get recruited. Try not to be too overwhelmed; the process will work itself out if you are consistent. This can be one of the most exciting times in your lacrosse career–it feels great when a coach validates all of the hard work that you have been doing for so many years.