How to Get an Athletic Scholarship

By Mark Cook , last updated October 30, 2011

For many students, it is a dream to get an athletic scholarship to help pay for college tuition. Obtaining an athletic scholarship is extremely difficult, however, and requires a lot of work and dedication. The National College Athletics Association, or NCAA, is the governing body for most of the upper-echelon college teams. There are also the NAIA and junior-college schools that have scholarship opportunities, although these leagues are not as competitive or noteworthy. The NCAA divides schools into Divisions, I, II, and III, with the top teams being in I, the middle tier in II, and the lower teams in III. For each division and sport, the NCAA limits the amount of scholarship schools can give away. It is up to schools and their boosters to raise the money to reach this limit. Therefore, if you are looking to get an athletic scholarship, your main outlet should be going through the school program itself. Here is how you can better your chances of getting a college sports scholarship:

Be Realistic

It is important to set parameters for where you want to play. If you are a second-string football player for your high school team, than your chances of receiving a scholarship to a top-tier program are slim-to-none. Make sure you are realistic in your self-assessment and target schools that you can contribute to right away. You will have a higher probability of getting a scholarship to a Division II school than a Division I school where you may have to sit on the bench for a while before getting a chance to play.

Contact Coaches

Coaches hold the key to the scholarships. It is their team and they decide who they want to give money to. One of the faults that many student athletes have is that they rely on coaches to come out and find them. You should take the initiative and contact the coaches for the schools you are considering. One easy way to do this is to send them an email with an athletic resume and highlight reel. Your resume should include your statistics and any honors you have received. Your video should include highlights of you playing as well illustrate the aspects of the game at which you particularly excel. Make sure you invite coaches to watch you play in person as this is the best chance they will have to assess your skills.

Recruiters and Scouts

Recruiters and scouts are great assets that help get you into an athletic program and receive a scholarship. These are individuals whose sole purpose is to find prospects for college sports teams. Most sports have recruiters and scouts affiliated with universities and major programs around the country. In addition, they set up many camps, invitationals, and tournaments in which coaches come out to see the nation’s top high-school players compete against the best of their class. For example, the Nike Basketball Camp is a top-level summer program in which many coaches assess the top-level basketball prospects in the country. Look into the more well-known camps and tournaments for your sport; if you attend and play well you will boost your chances of receiving an athletic scholarship offer to the college of your choice.

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