Between 2011 and 2016, NCAA men’s water polo saw a 12 percent increase in international water polo student-athletes at the Division 1 level, which is the largest growth that an NCAA Division 1 men’s sport has ever seen.
As water polo continues to grow, it will become more challenging for recruits to compete for roster spots on one of the NCAA’s 43 men’s water polo teams. Not to mention the difficult processes of navigating the NCAA recruiting rules and calendar, searching for the right college match and finding ways to get college coaches to notice you.
Luckily, NCSA recruiting experts have created a guide to the water polo recruiting process to help you through a stress-free recruiting journey.
After conducting a study on the college recruiting experience that revealed the majority of Division 1 athletes were contacted by college coaches prior to the start of their junior year of high school, the NCAA made significant changes to its recruiting rules. In May 2019, the NCAA announced that communication between college coaches and student-athletes is prohibited until June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year. They also announced that recruits can start scheduling unofficial and official visits after August 1 of their junior year.
What does this mean for men’s college water polo? As a sport that historically began the recruiting process later than most sports, this change to the recruiting rules likely means that recruiting will begin earlier than it has in past years.
Visit our guide to the NCAA water polo recruiting rules and calendar.
One of the biggest differences between high school and college water polo is the course length. College water polo course are 30 meters, while high school courses are only 25 meters. To successfully adjust, athletes need these two skills: speed and swimming ability. While it is important to have strong playing stats, such as goals scored, ejections drawn and assists, coaches put the most emphasis on speed and swimming ability when evaluating recruits.
To see what other factors college coaches consider when evaluating recruits, check out our recruiting guidelines section.
Before college coaches can contact you, be proactive and take the following steps to prepare for the recruiting process as early as your freshman year:
• Research water polo programs: Research the 43 college water polo programs and identity which are the best fit for you academically, athletically, financially and socially.
• Build a recruiting profile: Having a recruiting profile in NCSA’s network allows college coaches to review your athletic resume and evaluate your potential. You can easily update your playing stats and achievements and share those changes with college coaches at your prospective schools.
• Create a recruiting video: Create an eye-catching recruiting video that highlights the skills college coaches are looking for in recruits. Remember, this video is likely the first time a college coach will see you in action.
• Attend water polo camps: Increase your access and exposure to college coaches and become a stronger athlete by attending water polo camps.
• Contact college coaches: Let coaches know that you are interested in their program by sending an introductory email. This email can be sent before June 15 after your sophomore year, but college coaches can’t reply until after that date.
College coaches prioritize scholarship money for athletes in positions that are versatile and can directly impacts scoring opportunities. Often times, these athletes are goalies and utility players with elite-level all-star talent who can immediate impact the team’s growth and success in their first season.
The NCAA allows Division 1 and 2 men’s college water polo programs just 4.5 full-ride equivalent scholarships per team. For programs that aren’t fully funded, this budget is even smaller. Coaches often resort to dividing their scholarship budget to award partial scholarship to multiple athletes, rather than full rides.
Read more: Men’s Water Polo Scholarships.
We want recruits to find a water polo program they love, but we also know attending college is about more than just athletics. To help athletes find a water polo at a school that meets their needs, we’ve ranked the top men’s water polo colleges based on factors, such as location, cost, size and academics.
View a complete list of colleges offering men’s water polo.