Aspiring to earn a sports scholarship at a US university or college? Whether your sport is athletics or rugby, or anything in between, there are multiple pathways to catch the attention of coaches and teams. Here are some tips to help you create a winning game plan for securing a sports scholarship in the USA.

Start the process early

Starting early is crucial when aiming for a US sports scholarship. The ideal time to begin is around Grade 9, as this is when subject choices become important and taking certain core subjects is essential to qualify for most sports scholarships through the league eligibility process. Sable International’s sports recruitment team can assist you in selecting the right subjects and help you create a comprehensive plan to achieve your goals. We will support you every step of the way until you leave for America, and many of our students stay in touch with us until they graduate.

Create impressive marketing materials

Starting with a strong resume is important. Coaches want to see your key achievements and relevant information without having to read a lengthy biography. Include your top sporting accomplishments, personal best times or distances (if applicable), references, university start date and a brief bio.

Including a link to a well-produced video is also essential as coaches generally test ability through try outs, camps, or showcase events and this isn’t possible for most international students. Ensure the footage clearly shows your abilities without too much movement, zooming or slow motion. Avoid background noise like a parent’s commentary. Since coaches can’t always travel to watch your games, quality marketing materials are crucial for the university sport scholarship process.

Maintain strong academics

To participate in sports at an institution, you need to be academically eligible to compete in one of the different athletic associations. You won’t be accepted on your sporting talent alone. Coaches will also consider your academic performance when offering scholarships. By getting good grades and scoring well on your SAT test can significantly boost your recruitment chances.

US universities take a holistic approach to admissions, considering not only your academic and sports achievements but also your extracurricular activities and community involvement. Engaging in leadership roles and helping your community can make you eligible for leadership scholarships. This means you can combine a sports scholarship with other types of scholarships, such as leadership, diversity or academic scholarships, to maximise your funding opportunities.

Nurture your talent

Playing sport at a US college level is a whole different game compared to what you are used to in high school. Preparation and hard work are essential. Coaches want to see that you are dedicated and serious about your sport and talent alone is not enough to prove this. So, what does that mean? Showing that you play at club level and you’re serious about staying fit during the off season is crucial to showing your dedication. You need to continually be practicing, competing and improving your skills in order to maintain your competitive edge.

Stay positive

The college sports recruitment process is challenging. Don’t get discouraged during your search for a place to study and play sports. Lack of immediate responses from coaches isn’t the end of the road. Some athletic associations restrict them from contacting students at certain times of the year. Even if you are exceptionally talented, coaches may be unable to offer you a position during these periods. That’s why Sable International is here to help you.

Be proactive

Send your information to the coaches of university teams you're interested in and reply promptly. Should you procrastinate, even for a day or two, coaches may lose interest. They want to see your enthusiasm for their programme and your dedication. Building a good relationship with the coach is critical and can pave the way for great opportunities. Speaking to a professional recruiter, like Sable international, can save you with a lot of time and heartache by matching you with the right coaches and guiding you through the application process from start to finish.

Do your research

Learn about the different athletic associations, institutions and programmes. This is one of your biggest decisions, so it pays to be well-informed. Playing in the right division will provide you with more game time and opportunities to develop your skills. No one wants to be a benchwarmer; everyone wants a chance to excel both on and off the field.

Keep your options open by considering Division 2 and 3 schools. If playing at a Division 1 school is your dream, remember that there are different paths to get there. In the US, transferring schools is quite common. You can start your university career at a lower division school and, if you perform exceptionally well, transfer to a Division 1 school the following year. In fact, transferring is often easier than being admitted to a Division 1 school right from the start.

Enjoy the process

Planning your future while building new relationships should be an exciting experience. Don’t get overwhelmed by pressure or stress. Coaches are eager to have dedicated players on their teams, so embrace the journey.

Sable International can make this process easy and fun for you by linking you up with the USA’s best universities. We’ll assist you with finding the right universities, talking to coaches, sports scholarship applications and visas. We have helped over 600 athletes to study in the USA and have secured over $100 million in American sport scholarships for student-athletes.

If you want to further your sporting career at a US university, get in contact with one of our sports recruiters who will be happy to chat to you about your options. Fill in our free online evaluation or send us an email at

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