Ten Things To Know About College Gymnastics Recruiting
Becoming an elite gymnast takes hard work and dedication. And developing the talent to compete at the collegiate level is even more difficult. So, if your goal is to earn a college scholarship in gymnastics, there are 10 things you need to know:
1) Prepare Early
The earlier you begin focusing on your daily gymnastics training means you have a better chance of reaching a high level 10 or elite status. Reaching that level, while also stepping up as a team leader, will offer you better chances to earn a college scholarship.
2) Make The Grade
A solid academic record in high school will demonstrate to college coaches that you can handle the load of both gym work and classwork. Plus, a higher GPA makes you even more attractive to college coaches, as it shows you can also qualify for academic scholarships if needed.
3) Work With Your Club Coach
Given their connections and experience as evaluators, your club coach can be a huge help in your scholarship quest. The recommendation your coach provides could make a huge difference in the scholarship offers you receive, so make sure you’re always respectful and willing to work under their direction.
4) Know Your College Options
Compared to other sports, there are relatively few college gymnastics programs. However, the schools that do sponsor gymnastics programs range from large public schools to small, private colleges, all across the country. Some of those schools offer powerhouse gymnastics programs while others are just establishing their programs. Beyond the gymnastics program, consider everything a school has to offer so that you can find the place that’s the right fit for you.
5) Know Your Scholarship Options
In NCAA Division I, women’s gymnastics is considered a headcount sport and, as such, each school is allowed to offer only 12 full scholarships. In DII, gymnastics is an equivalency sport, and teams are allowed 6.3 scholarships, which can be allotted through partial scholarships (example: 10 team members earn scholarships covering 63% of their tuition, fees, etc). While Ivy League schools are Division I, they do not offer athletic scholarships, nor do NCAA Division III schools. Both of the latter do offer many academic scholarships and grants, however.
6) Track Your Stats
When you get to Level 9 or 10, start keeping track of all your scores and titles. Keep records of your honors and awards at any and every level of competition, from local meets to the national stage. Be fluent in all the C-level or higher skills in your repertoire and be able to correctly spell them when filling out college applications or questionnaires.
7) Know The NCAA Recruiting Rules And Timelines
You can be considered a recruiting prospect once you enter your 9th-grade year. As you start considering schools, visit some campuses and attend nearby summer camps to get a feel for that school and program.
Once you reach your junior year, college coaches can begin contacting you via mail and email. While you are allowed to contact coaches by phone, college coaches are prohibited from calling you until July 1 after your junior season. At this point, make sure you’re registered for the NCAA’s Eligibility Center and start using email and social media to demonstrate your skills as a gymnast and your qualities as a person. Once you reach your senior season, you may be invited by a coach for an official visit. You’re allowed a maximum of five official visits, though you can take as many unofficial visits as you want.
If you reach your senior year and haven’t received a scholarship offer, don’t give up hope. You still have time to pursue other schools that may not have been on your primary list and other scholarships can open in the spring. Keep your recruiting profile current, keep in touch with coaches, and keep working hard.
8) Raise Your Profile
All your hard work, high scores, and top honors will mean nothing unless you land on the radars of college coaches. That’s why it’s important that you stand out as a gymnast and as a recruit. To do that, put together an online recruiting profile with your bio, stats, scores and honors, GPA, and highlight video. Don’t be shy about emailing your highlight video to coaches. Take advantage of Youtube and social media. Regardless of how you get yourself in front of a coach, be proactive, be persistent, and make sure coaches know who you are and what you have to offer.
9) Know The Questions To Ask
Given all the unknowns in the recruiting process, it’s natural to have plenty of questions. And, vehicle coaches are always happy to answer them, ask the right questions and make sure you’re not wasting their time. Forget about the broad questions that can be answered on your own and instead focus on program-specific questions. Ask about the dorm experience at that school, about team activities on road trips, and about the facilities and conditioning programs. If you’re considering several schools, make a list of the same questions to ask each coach and compare answers to help you make your decision. The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask (or the one you can answer on your own).
10) Focus On Your Fitness And Health
In addition to looking for physical and academic ability, college coaches also look for gymnasts who know how to take care of their health. That means eating right and not ignoring little injuries now that can become big problems later.
The recruiting process can be confusing and frustrating. But if you follow these 10 tips, you can know what to expect, how to handle and, hopefully, land a scholarship at the school of your dreams!
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