Brush up on what you should know before you dive into the recruiting pool
When people think “recruiting,” they’re very likely to reference the recruiting process for football or basketball. However, when it comes to water polo, things are quite different. And if you want to be recruited to play water polo in college, make sure you know these four keys to help make your dream a reality:
Compared to college football or basketball, water polo is a significantly smaller sport. Fewer programs means fewer coaches, smaller team and recruiting budgets, and fewer scholarship opportunities. Therefore it’s vital that you take it upon yourself to make your recruiting happen.
Complete an online recruiting profile. Compile a highlight and or skills video and have it online as well. Take an honest assessment of your skills and talent and then assemble a list of schools where you think you’d fit in athletically and academically. Then reach out to the coaches at those schools via phone or email. Remember that NCAA regulations may limit when coaches can contact you, but they can reply when you email or answer the phone when you call. That means it’s up to you to keep calling, emailing, and doing what needs to be done to establish relationships with college coaches.
Another difference between football and basketball is that not every college water polo player gets a full-ride scholarship. In fact, given that men’s teams are allotted the equivalent of 4.5 scholarships per team and women’s teams can award eight scholarships per team, any scholarship you do earn will most likely be a partial scholarship. And if you wait to start reaching out to coaches in your junior year of high school, you might already be hopelessly behind.
So, to give yourself the best opportunity to earn a water polo scholarship, start working toward that goal as early as your freshman year in high school. Doing so not only gives a head start on building a relationship with college coaches, but it can get you on their recruiting radar sooner as well. Don’t worry if your highlight reel doesn’t show full college skills yet and remember that your online profile can be edited and updated as you progress. While that’s an important element to establishing a relationship with a coach, the key to starting early is to get noticed by coaches sooner so that they can see your potential and track your progress, growth, and improvement over time.
While being a good swimmer is a fairly basic element to being a recruitable water polo player, many coaches may also recruit water polo players to compete in swimming as well. Joining your high school swim team, or that of a local swim club will also give you the benefit of year-round training. And, by becoming a stronger, faster swimmer, you’ll also become more recruitable as a water polo player, and maybe even be able to pick up extra scholarship money as a two-sport athlete too.
Academics Can Be The Deciding Factor
Making sure you qualify academically for NCAA eligibility is required to compete in college. But the better your grades are, the better chance you’ll have of landing a scholarship.
While it’s a given that college coaches want strong athletes in the pool, they also want to recruit athletes they know can cut it in a college classroom too. And, by having a higher GPA and ACT or SAT scores, you can make yourself a more attractive recruit. In addition, good grades could also make you eligible for academic scholarships. And, while that could help cover what a partial athletic scholarship doesn’t, it could also allow a college coach to stretch his or her scholarship budget farther too. In the end, a strong GPA and solid entrance exam scores could give you the edge in the recruiting pool.
In the big picture, college water polo is a small sport compared to football or basketball. And if you want to be recruited to play water polo in college, dive in early, be proactive, join a swim team, swim every chance you can get, and keep your grades and entrance exam scores as high as possible. Tackle those four keys and you’ll stand out in the recruiting pool, too.
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