Club and travel teams have become an important part of the recruiting process for the majority of sports. With the increased recruiting exposure and concentration of college coaches at their events, it can seem like your only option for getting recruited is to play for a travel team. However, for many families it is just too expensive and laying out the thousands of dollars a year isn’t an option. This leaves many families to ask “what if we can’t afford a travel team?”
Look for Travel Teams That Offer Scholarships
Some club or travel teams offer “scholarships” to the best players. This means all of the other team members will pay a little extra in order for the club to be able to offer free spots on the team for couple players. These types of positions on a paying club team are difficult to find, but if you are good enough, they can be an excellent opportunity. The best way to find these scholarship opportunities is review the websites of the club teams in your area. If the information isn’t available on the website, contact the club director and see if they offer scholarships.
Off-Set Costs by Working for the Club
If you are a U16-U18 athlete, you might have the opportunity to off-set your club fees by coaching some of the younger teams in your club. Many clubs offer the opportunity for older players to help coach or run the camps for younger players and “pay you” by offering you a reduced fee for your club dues. This is another arrangement not available at all clubs and usually only a limited number of coaching positions are available. Contact the clubs in your area and see if this is an option.
Start Early and Build a Relationship with Your Local Club Directors
Attempting to get a scholarship position on a travel team is much like going through the recruiting process, except you are going to start even earlier. While you might begin the recruiting process in the 8th grade, you will need to begin contacting your local club teams in the 5th or 6th grade. You need to approach each club like you are trying to build a long term relationship. You might not be good enough for the scholarship in your first year, but if you improve, you could be offered in your second or third year.
Focus on Camps, Combines and Your High School Team
If your local cub teams aren’t going to work our financially, you will have to focus on the areas that will. Rather than spending thousands of dollars a year on a travel team, maybe you can only afford a couple camps or combines. To get maximum value from these camps or combines focus on reaching out to the coaches and recruiters who will be at these camps and let them know you are coming. Send them film or stats so they get an idea of what kind of player you are. If you aren’t getting any responses from the coaches or staff of a camp, consider attending a camp elsewhere, where they are showing interest.
Your high school team might not offer the same type of focused recruiting opportunities as a club team, but it can still provide you with a lot of exposure. Your high school competitions won’t have several college coaches in attendance, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be watching. Use your high school games to build your highlight video and game film library. You can generate a lot of interest by sending your highlight film to the right programs.
Are you having trouble getting recruited? Leave your questions in the comments below or create a free recruiting profile and one of our scouts can contact you.