5 Ways Gymnastics Recruiting Is Different From Other Sports
Due to its size, scope, and media attention, the recruiting process in sports like football and basketball is well known. Given that, many people assume the same process plays out in other sports too. However, while that’s a safe assumption for some sports, the recruiting process for other athletic endeavors is actually quite different. And for gymnastics, there are at least five notable differences:
1) Gymnastics Recruiting Happens At The Club Gym
Simply put, most of the top gymnasts compete at the club level, not for their high school team. While high school gymnastics does present a chance to be a part of a team, to truly stand out to recruiters, most gymnasts need to be part of a club. In addition, as gymnastics coaches are always trying to see as many athletes as possible on recruiting trips, they’ll always visit club gyms first and foremost.
2) Gymnastics Coaches Recruit For All-Around Athletes
While most high school athletes are recruited based on the position they play or will play, college gymnastics coaches look for all-around gymnasts that can contribute to the team in the beam, floor, vault, and bars. While there’s nothing wrong with a gymnast who excels in one or two events, coaches are always looking for athletes with the ability to push a team across all four events.
That said, the focus on all four disciplines means coaches are always looking to recruit to give their team a better chance to win. That means while you may be an ace on the vault, in any given year a coach may look to shore up weak areas on their team and consider other gymnasts who are stronger in two or three other events.
3) Different Coaches Look For Different Traits
Given the subjective nature of gymnastics, it should come as no surprise that there’s no black-and-white, cut-and-dried image of what a gymnastics coach wants in a recruit. Beyond gymnastics skills, some emphasize artistry while others look for confidence and poise. Other coaches look for gymnasts with flair while some focus on competitive fire. For an elite gymnast, lacking that “certain something” may not be a deal-breaker but, for every other gymnast seeking a scholarship, not fitting one coach’s mold doesn’t mean you can’t be the perfect fit for another team. Be yourself. Be the best you can be. And, if you’re not what Coach A is looking for, be ready when Coach B comes along.
4) Academics Matter Just As Much Athletics
As noted above, gymnastics coaches recruit based on what you can contribute to the overall good of the team. Given the size of a college gymnastics team, one athlete not making grades can have a ripple effect on the entire team. That’s why it’s important to work hard in the gym and in the classroom. Remember that, just as college competition will be a huge step up from the club level, the bar for college academic requirements will also be raised. That’s why college gymnastics coaches look for athletes who are equally motivated to compete for good scores and good grades.
5) Different Schools Recruit Differently
Given the disparity in school sizes and program sizes, it’s only natural that no two gymnastics programs recruit in the same manner. A big name school that’s won several national titles will likely recruit athletes from all over the world, while a smaller school with a smaller budget that’s simply trying to compete may limit recruiting to its home state.
As a gymnast, if the dream school at the top of your list shows no interest in you, recalibrate your search and focus on finding the program that offers the best fit for you. Remember that different schools evaluate recruits differently based on the needs of their program. And that means, while one school may pass on you, there are different opportunities for you to be a prized recruit for another program.
Finally, on top of these five differences, remember that the recruiting process will be different for every gymnast as well. So remember to keep the focus on your abilities, control what you can control, and keep working toward the goal of landing a college scholarship, no matter where you might land!
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