Here are a list of general guidelines for gymnasts hoping to get an NCAA athletic scholarship. Obviously each person's situation is unique, but here are some rules for recruiting, getting cleared to compete, approaching coaches, etc.
- To make a college team, you need to be good enough to contribute to the team score on one or more events This means you must be one of the top 6 guys on the team for that event
- As you get closer to senior year, evaluate the events that you think you have the potential to be really great at and focus on them. If there are events that you really struggle with and have not improved in for some time, consider putting them on the "back burner" to really make the other events shine.
- Talk to current college gymnasts on teams you'd like to be on, and ask them about the training - how do they approach routines, skill training, warming up and conditioning. Talk to your coach about incorporating some of their methods in your own training.
- Athletes are allowed to contact coaches prior to July 1 following their junior year of high school via telephone or email. Coaches can consequently reply to emails of phone calls, but the coach is not allowed to initiate contact before this date.
- After July 1st of your junior year, a coach is allowed to call you once a week during designated recruiting times. Again, you can call the coach with questions, but he/she is allowed one call. The coach is allowed unlimited email after this time.
- When contacting a coach via email for the first time, one might think of organizing the email into four sections.
- a short introduction saying your name, club, year, level, and that you are interested in applying to the school in the fall.
- Include a paragraph with some of your athletic accomplishments and stats, whether they are years on national team, number of state titles, or years in the sport.
- Write about your academic accomplishments, like your GPA, extracurriculars, and SATs.
- End by asking if the coach if he/she would like you to send them a recruiting tape or if there are any other steps required by the institution. Thank the coach for the time and repeat that you are interested in being a part of their program and school.
- Plan on sending a short 5-10 minute video of your gymnastics to the schools you are applying to. It should include recent competitions and highlight routines. You should also include some of the new skills you are training. The video should have your name, contact information, and the information about the year in which you plan to apply.
- Many schools require you to fill out a recruitment form as an initial step in trying to go on a recruiting trip. This form can be found on most schools' athletic websites under recruiting. It is a short form that asks about your academics, athletics, and some personal information such as birthday and permanent address. You might want to let the prosepective coach know you are doing this or have completed this so they can give you advice or take the necessary following steps.
- An athlete is only allowed to take 5 recruiting trips. If you do more than one sport and you are going on trips for both sports, you are still only allowed 5 trips total. These trips are organized through the coach and they will decide if they want to bring you out on one. I do not recommend asking the coach to bring you out on one because it is their decision and there are other factors at play like budget and other athletes being recruited. These trips only allow a prospective student-athlete 48 hours on the campus. They will pay for your travel and food, but there is a limit of $30 a day for team activities like bowling or other meals outside of the three main meals. Prospective student-athletes are not allowed to accept any gifts on their trips or any other time during recruitment unless it is a gift that is available to all prospective students athletic or non-athletic. Gifts include special treatment, money, clothes, merchandise deals, etc. Prosptective student-athletes nor their hosts are allowed to gamble, drink, or have sexual relations during the duration of the recruiting trip. These are grounds for NCAA ineligibility.
- One additional thing someone should do when trying to join an NCAA gymnastics team is get cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. You go to the NCAA.org website and register. The process takes several weeks so get started early.