When it comes to college gymnastics, recruits often think about the most glamorous parts of the recruiting process—college camps, campus visits and in-person evaluations. While these are important aspects of college gymnastics recruiting, there’s a lot more that goes into the process, from researching schools to contacting coaches and creating a recruiting video.
What gymnastics levels and skills are needed to compete in college? How do coaches evaluate athletes? And when do they contact recruits?
To successfully get on a coach’s radar, student-athletes need to know the gymnastics skills, levels and experience coaches look for at each college division level. Beyond athletics, coaches seriously consider a recruit’s academic performance and character when prioritizing their list of top prospects.
Throughout the process, student-athletes need to love the college just as much as the athletic program. Basically, they need to find the best fit. That means thinking through factors such as academic opportunities, campus life, size, cost, location, etc.
In this NCAA women’s gymnastics guide, we cover the different aspects of the recruiting process, how coaches identify recruits and what student-athletes can do to connect with college coaches. Most importantly, we detail a complete list of colleges with women’s gymnastics and give families advice on how to find the best college fit.
The NCAA issues a recruiting calendar each academic year that outlines when and how college coaches can contact recruits. For gymnastics recruiting, college coaches can personally reach out to student-athletes starting June 15 between their sophomore and junior year in high school. Understanding the gymnastics recruiting calendar and rules will help student-athletes maximize their opportunities of connecting with a college coach.
College coaches have a list of requirements at every division level. The most important? Gymnastics levels and skills. They look for recruits who can make an impact on the team immediately, and to do so, student-athletes need to meet certain qualifications in terms of gymnastics levels, skills, scores, and competition experience. For example, the majority of Division 1 gymnasts were once Level 10 in the Junior Olympic Program.
Even though a full ride scholarship is every gymnast’s dream, they’re extremely limited in college gymnastics. There are 81 gymnastics programs in the country, and 62 of them are Division 1 schools. Each of these schools offer 12 head count scholarships (also known as full rides) each academic year. That means there are only 732 total full ride scholarships at this level. Division 2 also offers athletic scholarships, but they are equivalency scholarships, meaning coaches distribute aid among several athletes on their team, usually providing partial scholarships. Even though Division 3 doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, student-athletes at this level often receive financial packages made up of academic aid, grants, and need-based aid.
Gymnastics recruiting isn’t a linear, clear-cut process. Student-athletes could be receiving personal camp invites and personal interest from one college coach, while just beginning to establish a relationship with another. There are multiple steps in every student-athlete’s journey, including researching colleges, creating a recruiting video and profile, emailing and calling coaches, placing in competitive meets, attending college camps and taking unofficial and official visits. This section answers the most common questions around gymnastics recruiting so families know exactly what steps to take and when.
Gymnastics recruiting videos are an essential piece of the recruiting process. Coaches can’t travel to every meet to evaluate recruits in person, so they rely on online evaluations—and this is where a well-crafted recruiting video comes in. It gives recruits a chance to make a memorable first impression, get an evaluation and highlight their top performances and skills in all four apparatuses.
College-run gymnastics camps are a great way for recruits to gain coach exposure, see how they measure up against top talent in the country, get a close at the gym equipment and learn the different training styles coaches use. But, like everything else in the recruiting process, picking the right camp takes some planning and research. Many high performer camps (Levels 7 through 10) at top colleges are invite-only, and coaches create a list of prospects they want to evaluate ahead of time. In this section, we ilst the different camps available, different factors to consider when picking the right one and how to get on the coach’s radar ahead of time.
There are only 81 NCAA colleges that offer women’s gymnastics: 62 at Division 1, 5 at Division 2, and 15 at Division 3. Even though the options are limited, families can still do research to find the right college fit. Several factors that student-athletes need to think about outside of athletics are academics, cost, campus life, location, size and more. Plus, building a realistic target list helps student-athletes improve their chances of connecting with a college coach. This section outlines the top gymnastics colleges.