Did you know that 226,173 high school students played lacrosse during the 2019-2020 school year? That’s a 5.6% increase in players from the year prior.
College recruiters will have their work cut out for them in the upcoming months with so many new athletes. As the sport grows, the competition between players to earn scholarships and get recruited also grows. That’s why it’s essential to start learning the ins and outs of the lacrosse recruiting timeline as soon as possible.
So what exactly do you need to know about recruitment? In this lacrosse recruiting guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the process.
Keep reading to learn about important dates and deadlines, rules for recruiters and recruits, steps in the process, and some tips for success.
The Lacrosse Recruiting Timeline
Per NCAA recruitment regulations, Division I college coaches may send recruiting information, contact potential recruits, and make verbal offers beginning September 1st of the target player’s junior year. Similarly, student-athletes may contact and schedule meetings with coaches on the same day.
For Division II, coaches and students may contact one another as early as June 15th, after the athlete’s sophomore year. Division III is more relaxed and allows coaches and students to have all forms of contact, except for official visits, at any time. Official visits are only permitted after January 1st of the athlete’s junior year.
Although direct contact is essential, there is still plenty of work students and coaches will do before discussing potential recruitment. Below is a brief timeline of the college lacrosse recruitment based on the school year.
The most important parts of your freshman year of high school as a student-athlete are improving and networking. Freshman year is the best time to explore your options and begin marketing yourself.
If possible, join a team at the club level and attend a few camps over the summer. Playing on a club team, participating in tournaments, and going to lacrosse camps are great ways to build skill, connect with coaches, and collect video clips for your highlight reel.
Apart from playing as much lacrosse as possible, this is the year that you’ll want to make a list of the top 20-30 schools you’d like to attend. It’s also wise to request academic-related information from your top schools and start visiting them.
If you’re interested in any DII schools, you’ll want to be sure to have your highlight reel and recruiting profile set up by June 15th. We’ll touch more on this later.
Starting on September 1st, you and DI coaches can schedule official visits and communicate directly about recruitment. Additionally, you’ll finally be able to send coaches your tournament schedule, highlights, and recruitment profile.
Once this date passes, the official recruitment process begins. Any coaches interested in you as an athlete will start to contact you about playing for them. This is also the time you’ll want to contact coaches from your top schools and begin learning more about them and their specific recruitment process.
It’s also a good idea to attend a few games at your top schools, and if possible, meet a few members of the team or talk with the coach. Networking at a college lacrosse game is a great way to meet coaches and other influential people that can help you in the recruitment process.
The junior year of a student-athlete also involves lots of research for scholarships and SAT/ACT prep. When creating your lacrosse calendar, be sure to include scholarship deadlines, and test dates, so that you don’t accidentally overbook yourself.
After the school year has come to an end, you’ll want to send any coaches you’ve been talking to throughout the year a complete transcript for grades 9-11. Additionally, you’ll want to attend camps and tournaments where the coaches you’d like to play for will be.
Once July 1st comes around, coaches will begin to send scholarships. The school will send scholarship offers throughout the year, depending on each recruit.
Come senior year, most of the hard work is finished. The most important is applying to your top choices! The deadlines for these depends on the university, but most application deadlines are in November.
Because they begin sending scholarships and recruitment offers after an athlete finishes their junior year, most DI coaches will have their rosters finalized (or close to it) by October. When you receive a recruitment offer or scholarship directly from a coach, you will still have to fill out a general application to the school. Be sure to find out the specific application and recruitment steps for the different schools you’ve been in contact with to avoid missing important deadlines.
After accepting an offer, student-athletes receive an NLI (National Letter of Intent) early in November. This is a non-mandatory agreement made between the student and the school that guarantees the student’s commitment to their first year playing and that they will have an athletic scholarship for that first year.
Now that you’ve accepted and are going to play lacrosse at your dream school, all that’s left to do is continue practicing, keep your grades up, and stay in touch with your new coach.
Lacrosse Recruiting Rules
While most of these rules impact coaches more than student-athletes, there are a few that every lacrosse recruit must know. These vary by division, so be sure to observe the rules for each division you’re looking to play in.
NCAA Division I sports follow the strictest set of rules compared to any other division. Coaches can send non-recruitment-based info, including questionnaires, camp brochures, NCAA educational pamphlets, and institutional-based information not about athletics at any time.
After September 1st of the athlete’s junior year, coaches may contact students via phone, email, or text. They can also send recruitment brochures, verbal offers, perform off-campus evaluations, and schedule both unofficial and official visits.
Division II recruitment rules are more relaxed and have a few key date differences you’ll want to memorize. Like DI, coaches can send non-recruitment-based info, including questionnaires, camp brochures, NCAA educational pamphlets, and institutional-based information not about athletics at any time. Additionally, unofficial visits between student-athletes and coaches can happen at any time.
After June 15th in an athlete’s sophomore year, coaches may call, contact recruits off-campus, and schedule official visits. They may also send recruitment materials.
Division III rules are the least strict and are pretty simple.
Coaches can send recruitment info and contact student-athletes at any time. After an athlete’s sophomore year, coaches and students can have off-campus communication. And, after January 1st in an athlete’s junior year, coaches and students can schedule official visits.
The Recruitment Calendar
There are four periods in the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse Recruitment Calendar. These periods allow certain permissions to coaches and athletes at specific times throughout the year.
During a quiet period, only in-person contact at the university campus is permitted. College coaches can’t visit students at their homes, schools, or games. Slow periods give athletes a break from coaches but still keep the communication open with calls, text, email, and direct messaging.
The scheduled Quiet periods for the 2021-2022 year are as follows:
- August 3rd–9th
- November 29th – December 23rd
- January 18th – February 28th
Contact periods allow for authorized athletics department personnel to contact athletes in-person and off-campus. Contact before June 15th of the athlete’s sophomore year is restricted to clinic and camp information. Additionally, the September 1st rule applies here as well.
These are the scheduled Contact periods for the 2021-2022 year:
- August 1st-2nd
- September 1st – October 31st (No Lacrosse Evaluations)
- November 1st-7th
- November 12th-21st
- January 3rd-17th (No Lacrosse Evaluations)
- March 1st – May 26th
- May 31st – July 1st
- July 7th-31st
Dead periods prohibit coaches and the athletics department staff from making any in-person contact with athletes and their parents. Coaches cannot perform evaluations or schedule official and unofficial visits. They can still contact students via text, call, direct message, or email.
Below are the scheduled Dead periods for the 2021-2022 year:
- August 10th-31st
- November 8th-11th
- November 22nd-28th
- December 24th – January 2nd
- May 27th-31st
- July 2nd-6th
An evaluation period is when athletics department staff are allowed to examine and evaluate prospects via off-campus activities like practices, games, and tournaments. During this time, coaches cannot speak in person with athletes off college campus; however, they can talk with teachers and coaches to better understand you and your skillset.
Men’s Lacrosse doesn’t observe evaluation periods like other DI sports, but there are specific dates during contact periods that do not allow lacrosse evaluations. See the section labeled “contact periods” above.
For more information about quiet, dead, evaluation, and contact periods, read our article about the NCAA Recruitment Calendar.
Step By Step Overview
Every athlete’s journey through recruitment is different, but the basics of the process remain the same. Here, we’ll guide you through the primary steps in the recruitment process.
The first phase of the recruitment process is contact. While DI has regulations about communication, most cycles start with a letter or email from a college coach or an email from an athlete to a coach.
These are usually letters or emails about the institution’s available programs, camp information, and questionnaires for prospects to participate in.
Coaches will often send hundreds of these letters to athletes to get a feel for the recruitment pool. While receiving emails like these doesn’t necessarily mean the coach will recruit you, this initial contact allows you to follow up and grow your network of college lacrosse coaches.
Evaluations and Communication
After the initial contact, the next step for recruiters is to evaluate their prospects. These evaluations can be formal, like at camps, tournaments, or games. But, they can also be very general, like checking transcripts, viewing your recruitment profile, or performance records.
During the evaluation phase, prospects evaluate the universities and programs they’d like to attend, apply for scholarships, and contact coaches for more information.
Once coaches have evaluated an athlete, the next step is for coaches and students to meet on the university campus. This allows students to get a feel for college life, the team, and the lacrosse program offered. For coaches, they’ll see how the prospect interacts with them, the team, and the school.
Campus visits can be official or unofficial. Students may attend five official visits and only 1 per school. These visits are paid for by the institution and can last up to 48 hours long. Be sure only to accept official visits from schools you have an interest in attending.
Recruitment Offers and Acceptance
After a few official campus visits with different athletes, coaches then begin to extend offers. Sometimes coaches will conduct more evaluations and continue to send emails while they finalize their options. While you are receiving offers, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each one and take care to choose the school that’s right for you.
How to Get Recruited
If you want to play lacrosse in college, it’s essential to follow these tips from coaches, college athletes, and lax experts.
Build a Recruiting Profile
Your recruitment profile is one of the critical elements to getting recruited. This is what you’ll send your list of top schools and any coaches you’re interested in playing for. You’ll want to include your academic achievements, test scores, GPA, athletic records, sports stats, and a brief, personal bio for coaches to look over.
Creating a free one online is the most popular option and relatively easy to do. The SSL Showcase by the Stringers Society is a free online recruitment profile that you can use to get on the recruitment radar. By using an online profile, coaches have an easier time discovering you and keeping up with your athletic and academic stats.
To submit a profile to the Stringers Society, all you’ll need is your highlight video, profile and cover photos, and any additional information you think might be of value. This should include transcripts, stats, summer tournament and camp schedules, and anything else that will help you stand out against your competition.
Contact Coaches Directly
To get recruited, you’re going to have to take 100% of the responsibility. Part of that includes contacting coaches first.
Often, athletes initially contact coaches through email. In this email, it is essential to include your general info like your name, contact info, high school name, club name, and graduation year. You’ll also want to include your GPA, academic achievements, and test scores.
Be sure to include this information as it will help coaches in their evaluation process. By knowing your academic information, they’ll be better able to access scholarship opportunities or program requirements.
Additionally, you’ll want to include your athletic stats and achievements, plus a link to your online recruitment profile. For more info about how to email recruiters, check out this article from the USA Today High School Sports Blog.
Get on the DI/DII Radar
If the dream is to play college sports, then it’s vital to get on the radar of DI and DII coaches. Marketing yourself and making yourself known are the best ways to score a recruitment offer. Below are some tips that will help you get your foot in the door.
Go to Lacrosse Camp
Camps allow you to sharpen and improve your skills while being evaluated and observed by college coaches. Here you’ll get to compete against the top players around the country and build a network of other lacrosse enthusiasts.
Be sure to choose camps that will bring the most benefit to you. Camps are one of the most popular places for coaches to see new talent. They’ll prioritize the events they attend based on the likelihood of finding their next star player.
When deciding camps, attend the ones that will put you in front of your desired schools, offer you the most improvement, and are economically practical.
Join a Club
Club lacrosse is a significant player in the recruitment landscape. Coaches are very selective of the clubs they’ll follow to tournaments and other events and base their choices around which clubs draw the most talent. When deciding which club to play for, research your top schools and see which clubs and coaches you are interested in.
Of course, choosing a club isn’t just about where the coaches will be. Club lacrosse allows you to play competitively, meet coaches, and improve your skills. You’ll also want to be part of a club team that matches your skill level and lacrosse goals.
Before joining a club, look into local clubs in the area, talk to your coach about what clubs might be right for you, and speak with other players about the clubs they play for. By doing sufficient research, you’ll be better able to curate a career in lacrosse, enhance your recruitment profile, and follow your vision to play at your top school.
It’s also important to note that you’ll want to join a club as early as possible to allow yourself the most success.
Network at Tournaments
Tournaments are a great place to network and meet more people in the lacrosse space. The general rule that life is about who you know also applies to recruitment.
By attending tournaments, not only will you be playing in front of Division I and II coaches, but you’ll be in an environment full of lax players, enthusiasts, and experts. Taking some time to converse with other teams, attendees, and judges can help grow your network and meet tons of people that can help you in your journey through recruitment.
When choosing tournaments to participate in, use the same exclusivity you used to select your club. Consider which ones will bring you the most benefit. Also, when going to tournaments, be sure to set goals for yourself outside of winning and playing well.
Set targets for how many coaches or teams you want to talk to. Even a goal to just shake hands with a certain number of members from the athletic department can go a long way in building your network.
Commit to Your High School Team
While recruiters are primarily looking at your skill and determination to succeed at the college level, they also observe your team commitment. The club level is essential for getting on the radar, but part of staying on it is following through with your high school team.
Playing your hardest with your high school team and chasing a high school championship is the most important thing a student-athlete can do. After all, this is what you’ll do at the collegiate level.
At high school games, recruiters observe your ability to facilitate teamwork, your dedication to the sport, and your overall ambition. One of the biggest mistakes recruits make is that they focus more on the recruitment process and less on the actions that will help them reach their goals. While going through recruitment, don’t forget to enjoy lacrosse and make memories with your teammates.
It also helps that college coaches are excited to hear about your current high school team. Including a section that contains an update about your high school team’s recent wins or your thoughts about how the team is coming together at the bottom of an email is an excellent way to build rapport with coaches. They love to hear it, so be sure to have it.
All About Lacrosse Scholarships
Another crucial aspect of college lacrosse is scholarships. Athletic scholarships aim to help student-athletes with the cost of college and give the school’s a leg up when recruiting their top picks. Because lacrosse is an equivalency sport, the amount awarded in a scholarship is dependant on the coach’s preference.
Scholarships for lacrosse are also not exclusively awarded by the NCAA. Local sports equipment suppliers, tournaments, and regional associations are great places to find scholarships, grants, and merits. Be sure to use the network you’ve built through lacrosse to help you secure a scholarship.
Rules from the NCAA
There are a handful of rules that universities must follow when awarding scholarships based on each division. These rules vary by division are listed below.
In Division I, there are a total of 73 DI men’s lacrosse teams in the U.S. Each of these teams is permitted to extend 12.6 scholarships per team.
It is important to note that the NCAA doesn’t offer full-rides to lacrosse players, so some of your college tuition will have to come through other funding.
In DII, there are 61 men’s lacrosse teams. Each of these teams is permitted to offer 10.8 scholarships per team.
In DIII, there are 236 men’s lacrosse teams. Unfortunately, the NCAA doesn’t allow any DIII schools to offer scholarships. Players looking to play for any of these teams will have to rely on other scholarships, grants, or merits that may be offered through other avenues.
How to Score That Coveted Scholarship
The process for scoring a scholarship is intertwined with the process of getting recruited. You’ll want to be sure to contact coaches, play on a club team, and attend plenty of tournaments and camps. Additionally, you’ll want to follow our tips outlined below.
At the beginning of the recruitment journey, when you are doing extensive research into schools, programs, and regulations, it is good to look over the eligibility requirements for scholarships. You’ll want to know all of the academic requirements and implement methods for achieving them. The NCAA has an educational page with all this information and is a great place to start your research.
You’ll want to gather all you can about the rules that apply to you based on your current school year, how you can contact coaches and how they may contact you, and any information regarding what to expect as a college-bound athlete. It’s also wise to note what you need to achieve academically.
Discover the core classes and exams you’ll need to take, including necessary scores or completion certificates. Then arrange your academic calendar to launch you towards success in these areas.
This may go without saying, but to receive an athletic scholarship, you must maintain your grades. Different programs have different GPA requirements for their athletes. The general rule of thumb is to maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher to give yourself the best chance.
Additional Tips to Get Through the Process
Understanding everything that goes into recruitment can be a big challenge. That’s why it’s essential to use the experience of coaches, college athletes, and other lax experts to your benefit.
Forming a Relationship with Coaches
Coaches want to see you play, so remember to invite them and play your best. They like to see players that are eager to improve. Athletes that attend regular camps, showcases, and play in clubs are ideal for them. To add to this, they love to see players that are enthusiastic about lacrosse.
When observing you in action, they are looking to see how well you know the game, if you share the workload, if you’re respectful on and off the field, and other characteristics. The best way to stand out for a coach at events like this is to be yourself, have fun, and stay true to your determination for success.
Your reputation matters. Coaches, teams, players, faculty, parents, and other members of the lacrosse community are likely around at all times. When playing, practicing, or studying, remember to be yourself and stick to your character.
Coaches aren’t just recruiting talent; they’re recruiting a person. They want to know what you have to offer them and who you are as well. When chatting with coaches, be sure to have some instances of casual conversation that will give them more insight into your personal goals and interests.
The Most Common Mistake of College Bound Athletes
The most common mistake student-athletes make is failing to keep their grades up. This can cause you to lose scholarships and even the chance of being recruited. Often, grades slip when students are overextending themselves.
If you want to keep your GPA, or are looking to get it back in shape, one of the best things you can do is include study time, test dates, or project deadlines in your academic calendar. Your academic and lacrosse calendars should pair nicely with one another and should not overlap.
Additionally, hiring a tutor or blocking out specific times during the week that you and your teammates will study are great additions to encourage success. College isn’t just about sports; it’s about higher education as well, so be sure to strive for academic success first.
Choosing the Right School for You
Before signing any offers, you’ll want to make sure you’re ready to commit. Weigh out the offers based on academics, scholarships, and anything else the institution has included. Also, finish any research about the location, economy, and campus environment.
While playing lacrosse is important, so is your future. Don’t forget to choose a school that is going to benefit your life the most. Playing on the best team is a great feeling, but it won’t be worth it if the school doesn’t offer your top academic program or degree of choice.
There are tons of articles about what to do after being accepted by schools and how to decide. Be sure to do as much research as you need to feel comfortable with your choice.
Go Get Recruited Today
The recruitment process is one of the most crucial and exciting times in a young athlete’s life. Now that you’ve got a thorough understanding of the lacrosse recruiting timeline, rules, and regulations, it’s time to go get recruited.
If you are a lacrosse enthusiast and want more helpful tips about recruitment, be sure to check out our blog.