Congrats, if you are senior you can finally take Official Visits! Even if you are not a senior this information can be important to know and understand. These visits are one of the most exciting things about the recruiting process. If you receive an invitation for an official visit, you can bet that the interest level is now getting serious. You will want to be prepared and ready. But before we get started on the 10 things you need to know let’s quickly review the definition of an Official Visit.
An Official Visit is any visit where the school pays in whole or in part for your expenses.
1.WHEN CAN I START TAKING OFFICIAL VISITS?
You can start taking visits on the first day of class your senior year in high school.
Applies to all divisions.
2.WHAT ARE THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS?
You must be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
You must provide the school with a transcript.
You must provide the school with a standardized test score (ACT, SAT)
3.WHAT DOES A VISIT INCLUDE?
Transportation – A school can pay for your roundtrip transportation. This includes all reasonable expenses traveling to and from the campus. If you are flying, the school can pay for coach air fare. If you are driving, the school can reimburse you at an established mileage rate.
Lodging – The school can pay for you and your parents or legal guardians to stay at a hotel within a 30 mile radius of the campus.
Meals – The school can pay for up to 3 meals plus a snack per day for you and your parents or legal guardians.
Entertainment – The school can provide you and your parent’s entertainment within a 30 mile radius of the campus. Some examples might include bowling or going to the movies.
Athletic Events – The school can provide 3 tickets to one athletic event. These are typically for a football game or basketball game, but could include any athletic event taking place on campus during your visit.
Recreational Activities – you can participate in recreational activities as long as they are not organized, observed by the coaching staff or athletic department members and they are not designed to test your athletic abilities.
4.WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED?
Air transportation for your parents or legal guardians.
Lodging or meals for anybody else accompanying you other than your parents or legal guardians.
The use of alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or any illegal activities.
5.HOW MANY OFFICIAL VISITS CAN I TAKE?
You are allowed up to 5 visits to D1 and D2 schools combined.
You can only take 1 official visit per school.
There are no limits on the number of official visits you can make to D3 or NAIA schools.
You cannot take a visit during a Dead Period.
6.HOW LONG ARE VISITS?
Official visits can last no more than 48 hours.
The clock starts on the 48 hours as soon as you reach campus.
7.DOES IT MEAN ANYTHING IF A COACH OFFERS ME AN OFFICIAL VISIT?
If a coach offers you an official visit, you have probably already received an offer or you are very high on their recruiting board and you are a priority. In some cases, coaches will also have a weekend of visits for high priority preferred walk on candidates.
8.WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
Not all visits are made equal. Each school will have a different budget and some may have their own internal guidelines on what they can or cannot do. Because of this, your experience may vary with each school. However, there are a few things you can expect from every official visit.
Visits are planned to the final detail. There is a purpose to every minute you spend on campus. Coaches want you to see the school and the program at their best.
Whether you already have an offer or hope for an offer, you are being evaluated from the moment you step foot on the campus. How you handle yourself with the coaches, staff, players and anybody else you interact with will be considered when choosing to extend an offer or honor the offer you have already received. They want to know if you will be a good fit.
You will most likely spend time with several coaches, a player host, members of the team, and a professor or advisor in your expected area of study.
Coaches will put you in different environments. There will be times when you are one on one with a coach, times when you are with other recruits, times when you are with your parents and times when you are alone, and times when you are interacting with current players. Again, these situations are all designed to assess your social skills and fit with the team.
A typical first day itinerary will include an introductory meeting with the head coach and coaching staff, tour of the campus, tour of the facilities, lunch at one of the campus cafeterias or student union, meeting with a professor or advisor, meeting with the strength and training staff, attendance at a football or basketball game, dinner with the coaches at a nice restaurant (often a steakhouse), and free time with your player host.
The itinerary for the 2nd day usually includes breakfast and individual meetings with coaches.
9.IS THERE ANYTHING I NEED TO DO TO BE READY FOR MY VISIT?
Approach the visit the same as you might for a job interview. Remember that while the primary purpose of the visit is to provide you an opportunity to evaluate the school and the program, it is also an opportunity for the coaches to continue to evaluate you. With that in mind, start the visit by dressing nice and showing the coaches that you appreciate the opportunity. Does that mean you need to show up in a suit and tie? No, but you shouldn’t show up in workout shorts and wearing your hat backwards either. A nice pair of jeans and a nice button down or polo shirt will work. You also need to come prepared to answer and ask questions that will help you further help you and the coaches to evaluate each other.
Some questions you should be prepared to answer-
What other schools are you planning to visit?
What schools have offered you a scholarship?
What factors will help you make a decision?
When can you commit?
Some questions to ask coaches-
Where do the coaches see your fit on the team?
What is the current depth chart at your position?
Will you have an opportunity to play your freshman year?
What is your redshirt policy?
How many open spots do they have at your position?
How many other athletes are being recruited for your position?
What is the practice schedule like?
What does the off season program look like?
What are the study hall requirements?
What kind of academic support do you offer?
How do athletes balance the athletic requirements with academic requirements?
What is your graduation rate?
What percentage of freshman on the team make it through year 4 or year 5?
If I was ready to commit today, could I? (Of course this assumes you already have an offer)
Some questions to ask players-
What do you think of the head coach?
What do you think of your position coach?
How do they treat players?
Do you feel they provide the academic support you need?
How does the team get along? What is team morale like?
Do you hang out with players during off hours?
What is your typical day like during the season?
What is the off season like?
How do they treat injured players?
Do you like the school?
Do you like the town?
Would you make the same choice if you had a chance to do it again?
Some questions for the professor or academic -
What are the requirements for my major?
Are the opportunities for extra help if I need it?
What type of jobs are available after graduation?
What kind of career placement do you offer?
What is your placement rate?
10.WHAT ELSE SHOULD I BE AWARE OF DURING MY VISIT?
Always look the coaches and players in the eye and always speak clearly. It will show a lack of confidence and leadership qualities If you mumble and keep your eyes down during interactions.
Not only is it important to pay attention to the answers you receive to your questions, but it is also very important to pay attention to the body language of the coaches and players. It can be easy for the coaches and even players to answer many of the questions you pose because they have heard them many times. However, it is difficult to disguise body language. Especially when responding to questions about support and team morale.
Don’t let your guard down too much with going out with the players later in the evening. It is OK to have fun and to try and fit in, but do not cross a line that may keep you from being offered a scholarship or may cause your scholarship offer to be pulled. This includes drinking, missing your curfew or anything else that would be considered unacceptable behavior.
OK, so there are a lot more than 10 things to know when preparing for and going on an Official Visit. But when it comes to college athletic recruiting, the Official Visit is an extremely important step in the process. Being invited on an all-expense paid visit indicates that things are getting serious. You want to go into it as prepared as you possibly can be.
Do you have questions about official visits or have you already been on a visit? We would love to answer your questions and share your experiences. Please share them in the blog comments section below.