5 Mistakes Parents Make in Athletic Recruiting

Kim Chorosiewski, Ed.D., CSCS, CMAA

  1. Believing the hype about how good your child is or is not
  2. Assuming that your child will “get” recruited
  3. Grades don’t matter if the student-athlete is good enough
  4. The club or high school coach will do the work to “connect” the coaches and student-athlete
  5. If my child does not want to play Division I sports, he/she can just walk on to a Division III team

Believing the hype about how good your child is or is not
So, how do you find out how good your child is at his/her sport? The only people who really know how good your child is are the coaches that are recruiting them! Rankings, ratings, stars and all the hype surrounding athletic recruiting, particularly in the higher profile sports is simply that, hype. The top scorers or league all-stars are not necessarily recruit-worthy athletes. There is a larger pool of candidates to contest with in an effort to be considered for an evaluation by a coach or coaching staff before your child becomes a recruited student-athlete

Consider who is best situated to give you honest feedback. Private conversations with a few coaches (select, high school, opposing) coaches might be a good indicator of whether your child is ready to, A) enter the recruiting game; B) be evaluated at showcase events or by submitting film, and C) has enough experience to show potential growth, coachability and other possible important benchmarks (height, weight, speed, rank, head-to-head competition). We can help you formulate those discussions and strategize around the readiness of your child.

FACT: In 2016, the number of participants in high school sports reached an all-time high of 7,963,535 (National Federation of State High Schools Association, NFHS News, September 6, 2017).

Assuming that your child will “get” recruited
Clearly, college coaches cannot observe potential recruits without knowing an athlete want to commit to playing in college. Recruiting is a two-way process between the colleges and the athlete. The secret is, do not keep yourself a secret – let coaches know you want in the game!

In the athletic recruiting process, relationships matter and none more than the one established between your child and college coach or coaching staff. While high school and club coaches can serve as an intermediary for information, the real recruiting begins when the relationship is confirmed. Even though NCAA rules prohibit certain levels of contact (variable by sport, prospect class, time of year), the relationship can begin without a constant stream of communication but will require a level of engagement from the student-athlete. The secret is. . . .don’t keep your desire to play collegiate sports a secret from college coaches. Let them know!

All-star lists, showcase rosters, camp rosters, recruiting services and national events share data and contact information with many coaches. Often after an event, coaches will send out “invitations” to athletes from those events to attend a Prospect Day, Prospect Camp, or other event where athletes can be “seen and evaluated” by college coaches. Often, there is a price tag associated with the invitation and the outright appearance can seem like you are only “one of a few invitees” to the event. Your child may also be asked to complete an online recruiting form. This is also another way to capture data and sort serious athletes from those who cannot compete in college.

Your child can use these events to begin to be more thoroughly evaluated by college coaches, however, they should be ready to compete at a high level at the college or university academically and athletically and should be a “right fit opportunity. For more insights, see Matching Your Academic Commitment to Your Athletic Opportunity.

Grades don’t matter if the student-athlete is good enough
An essential part of the overall assessment of the athlete is the academic profile (grades, tests, courses). GRADES MATTER! Each Admission Office in conjunction with Athletic Department in college determine what levels of grades, testing and curriculum strength are required and how many “slots” or chips are distributed to each team for athletes. This means that the “hook” of being an athlete affords the coach an opportunity to bring athletes in who may not otherwise be admitted on his or her own merits but will contribute to the life of the college or university. Examples include the Academic Index for the Ivy League and “Banding” utilized by NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) schools to determine academic standing/admissibility if the coach chooses to support you child. Finally, athletes are expected to do the work and graduate on time.

The club or high school coach will do the work to “connect” the coaches and student-athlete
Club, Select and AAU coaches often have relationships with college coaches as part of their duty to coach your child’s team. However, often the coaches only know your child as an athlete. Do they know what you or your child is looking for in a college? Does the coach know and understand your child’s learning profile and academic strengths and weaknesses?

NCAA rules permitting, these coaches can serve as an intermediary between the athlete and college coach. however, in the end, the athlete chooses his or her college based on the best fit academics, environment and athletic opportunity. Success needs to be available to the athlete on and of the field as well as in the classroom.

If my child does not want to play Division I sports, he/she can just walk on to a Division III team
Finally, the decision about your child as a potential Division I or Division III team member resides with the college coach(es) engaged with your child. Recruiting is a serious and essential responsibility of a college coach to assure a high-level of sustained competition and competitive students. Coaches are judged on team success! Having a competitive squad is expected and recruiting is the cornerstone of success for college teams. Your child will need to fit into the plans of the coach and be able to handle the daily challenges.

With potential roster limits invoked by colleges or reduced training time during the pre-season of a sport, walk-on status is generally determined by the head coach. Many teams do not offer walk-on possibilities while others may denote prospects as recruited walk-on or walk-on, usually with no assurance of making the roster and often only after the student is admitted to the college or university on their own.

Both the athletic recruiting process and the college search are highly technical and daunting undertakings in their own right. Combining them effectively requires a unique set of skills and knowledge. As experienced college counselors who are also former collegiate student-athletes, high school and college coaches, McMillan Education offers this dual expertise in specialized athletic recruiting and college counseling.

We take the burden off the recruit and the mystery out of the athletic recruiting process. Our direct experience working with student-athletes in and outside of interscholastic competitive sports allows us to use our knowledge of the hidden challenges of the recruiting process to leverage your child’s strengths and avoid irreparable missteps.

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