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Club Sports vs. High School Sports: Which is better?

The Meredith Avenging Angels logo on the Meredith College track.

As interest in youth sports programs continues to grow, more and more opportunities become available for athletes to compete at all levels. With so many options available, parents of athletes who dream of competing at the college level are wondering if club sports or high school sports are better. Both options offer advantages for athletes and college prospects.

For athletes wondering if they should focus their time and effort on school sports or club teams, here are several tips to help guide in your planning.

Club Sports

Club organizations build teams based on talent, skills, and experience, so players often compete at a much higher level. The focus and intensity of practice sessions and competition events helps you develop a stronger skillset and challenges you at a faster pace. You will have an opportunity to showcase your skills in front of college coaches much more often during club/travel ball tournaments than you would at a high school game.

However, athletes should choose their travel team carefully and make sure the team and organization’s goals and philosophies align with their own. The club schedule can be grueling and requires a significant commitment from your family. So the extra research will often result in a more positive experience.

High School Sports

Competing for a school team establishes a sense of pride in your school and local community. In some cases you are able to put your mark on a program that has been established for decades and make an impact on the traditions, while leaving behind a legacy. There is also something special about the bond created with teammates you see regularly in class and during other school events, as well as throughout the sport season. High school games focus on competition with an opportunity to advance to a conference or state tournament over the course of the season. Who doesn’t dream of winning a state title?

While college coaches gravitate towards club tournaments to capture as many prospects in action as possible, school sports remain an integral part of the student-athlete experience. High school coaches offer a unique perspective on their athletes and will share those experiences with recruiters to aid in the selection process. Prospects may collect film from school competitions to share with college coaches, as well as sport schedules. With a schedule in hand college recruiters may attend some high school events, especially for local prospects.

College Scouts

Most college coaches prefer to attend club tournaments because they are able to see significantly more athletes in one day. The talent level is often much higher than a traditional high school game as well. College scouts may also receive a list of all participating athletes in order to reach out to prospects.

However, athletes interested in competing in college must take an active role in the recruiting process. You should inform coaches of your interest in their program, providing your club and school schedules as well as video clips to help capture their attention.

College Camps

In addition to participating in school and/or club sports, you should also attend camps hosted by the college coaches from your prospective schools. Your attendance provides another opportunity to be seen by the coaches, while providing you a chance to assess the training style and overall sports program. The more interest you show in a college program, the more likely you are to receive an invitation.

Other Considerations

As an NCAA Division III program, Meredith College coaches recruit prospects who fit the needs of their team, but also focus on each athlete’s overall fit for the college. The student-athlete must progress toward a degree throughout her four years, and athletic participation simply enhances the journey.

Participation at the collegiate level requires passion, time, effort, and sacrifice, whether NCAA Division I, II, or III, as well as NAIA or NJCAA. Find a sports program that fits your competitive goals, but be sure to select a school whose academic profile matches your career interests and overall life plans.

Interested in learning more about how to get noticed by a DIII program? Here are some tips from Meredith Athletic Director Jackie Myers

(Contributions from Head Softball Coach Kim Scavone and Head Lacrosse Coach Lauren Scott)

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