5 min read

Coaches Recruiting Tips

Coaches Recruiting Tips

At our Best in Class 2025 event this past week, we hosted an add-on parent panel where ten Division 1 college coaches held a Q&A with the parents. 

While the coaches cannot be too specific with what they look for when recruiting a player, they provided some very good insight that shed some light on how they look at not only recruiting players, but the lacrosse landscape in general. Here are a few of my favorite highlights (as I recall them) from the panel:

Be cautious of overplaying: If a coach sees you at an event, they don't know if you are injured or tired from playing multiple days in a row prior to the event. You want to put your best foot forward when possible. If you get to a point where you are no longer excited about playing in the next event, then you likely have too much on your plate. Look at your schedule in advance and really try to imagine what the commitment will feel like. You don't get viewed negatively for not playing, but playing injured could lead to a lesser evaluation.

Parents, you are the shepherd of your children: This was advice from Coach Byrne at Harvard. He reminded parents that at the end of the day, it is their job to ensure that their children are making the best decisions for them. You must be the guardian against over-committing and getting burnt out.

Prospect Days: Each coach places different weight on these (as was the case with many of the questions). However, here were some insights from the coaches. Prospect days can be great for players and families to get to see a campus, but typically a coach is only going to recruit a couple of the very best players from the prospect day. Coach Wray from St. Joe's mentioned there might be 2-3 guys they actually recruit as the best guys. You may want to use a trusted resource before committing to a prospect day to ensure that your player has the ability to play at a school like the one hosting the prospect day. We wrote more about this on our last weekly thought.

High-Level Playing Environment: Most coaches enjoy watching players in a competitive team environment. Coach Bernhardt from Maryland mentioned that ideally you get to see a player compete with their high school team in a high-stakes game, because then you get to see more of the intangibles as well. You get to see a player compete for something bigger than themselves. However, this is not always possible. Showcases and tournaments certainly can be positive additions.

Showcases vs Tournaments: Be selective when choosing showcases and tournaments. Attending 1-2 high-quality showcases where you will be learning and developing in addition to getting recruited makes the events more worthwhile. Club tournaments can provide very good recruiting environments as well. Coaches want to see players compete against high-level players and play with teammates. One of the drawbacks in showcases is the prevalence of “me” ball where players do not play as much as a team. Multiple college coaches commented to us that BIC was ultra competitive and kids were truly going hard. In all of this, it is important that these pieces fit together tying back to the point of not overplaying.

Grades: Waiting until junior year to start focusing on grades is too late. Typically, colleges look at cumulative GPA. The importance of this will change based on school, however all of them value it to a certain degree. Also, be direct here. There is not point in saying you have a 3.8 GPA for the last quarter when your cumulative GPA is a 2.9. The coaches will eventually find this out, so it is best to be upfront. Showing improvement in GPA is helpful too if you are trending in a positive direction. Coaches encourage asking direct questions once September hits and conversations pick up.

Emails: When emailing a college coach, ensure your email is concise and to the point. Include the most relevant information at the top so it catches their attention right away. A good subject line will help. Coaches get a lot of emails, so if you bury the important information, they may never even see it. Also, make sure to personalize each email for the school you are reaching out to! DO NOT copy and paste the wrong coach’s name at the top (trust me I know from experience). In 2011, I emailed UVA’s Coach Dom Starsia and the first line was "Dear Coach Tillman,". Luckily for me, things worked out at Maryland.

Highlight Tapes: Like the emails, keep these concise and make sure to show your best plays early on into the tape. Once again, coaches may only watch 30 seconds until they decide if they will continue watching. There is no need for a big intro, any slow motion, or crazy special effects. They want clear footage that shows the context of the play (field-level footage of just you is not super helpful). They want to know the competition you are playing against. For example, if you are covering a top recruit or playing against one of the best teams in the country, it is good to note those things. Coach Miller at Villanova suggested to include information in your YouTube video so it can be easily searched: "Deemer Class - 2012 Midfielder - Summer Highlight Tape." Read our blog on highlight tapes here if you want to dive in more deeply.

Talent trumps most, but character matters: At the end of the day, coaches are trying to build winning programs and that takes talent. It also takes high character individuals. While coaches may dismiss some behaviors from the top players in the class if they are talented enough, they do try to get a full picture of the players they are recruiting. They dig in the background and check to see if the player is a good teammate, tough, high character, and enjoyable to be around as well as other traits. Put your best foot forward when possible. They do care about the type of person you are. In our opinion, why risk it? You might not be as good as you think, and it might cause you to get crossed off with your one dream school.

Recruiting Timeline: this differs by school, but typically coaches start to put together a “soft list” in a player’s Sophomore fall. This is typically the bigger D1 schools that will extend many offers early in the Junior fall for players. They continue to refine these lists all the way through the end of their recruiting group.

Questionnaire's: These are a great way to show your interest in a school. It is important that these answers reflect the player’s interest in the school (not the parents). Coaches joke about the responses that are overly-well written by parents. Let the players fill these out. When answering questions here, cater the answers to that specific school so they know that you did not copy and paste across schools. Coaches want to know that you are interested in their school particularly. This is also the best way to give all your correct, up to date information to the schools without going to a third party. Parents - do not put YOUR information in the name/cell phone/email categories that are intended for players!

These are just a few of the nuggets. It is difficult to provide a broad answer for many of the questions since the truth is that many coaches and programs do things differently based on their specific processes and needs. There are certainly some universal tips that we tried to highlight here. We hope you found this helpful! 


- Coach Dunn & Coach Class


We hope you found this helpful. We started First Class Lacrosse because we believe in the power player development. We believe you can get exponentially better if you combine a great work ethic with the guidance of knowing what to work on and how to do it. Luckily, we experienced it firsthand as players and coaches. Our goal is to pass on what we have learned and experienced to future generations of lacrosse players, parents, and coaches. Join our Email List here.

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