After putting tens of thousands of miles on the car shuffling kids from practice-to-tournaments-to-games, putting a decade of work in cheering your child on from the stands and after countless booster-club fundraisers, concession stand dinners, post-game snacks and closets full of cleat, equipment and uniform purchases, you’ve maxed out your “free time,” credit cards and energy!
All of this should pay off with a full-ride athletic scholarship to the school of your child’s choice, right? WRONG! Only 3.5-6% of high school athletes go on to play at the collegiate level in sports like football, baseball, basketball and soccer but luckily, with a little planning, some thick skin and promise to pound the pavement a tiny bit more, there are plenty of ways to increase your child’s chances of going on to play at the collegiate level and hopefully earning some scholarship dollars in the process! Realistically, you just need to find that one coaching staff that believes in your child and makes that one phone call to offer them an opportunity to be a part of their team.
#1- The #1 rule you need to memorize to get your child “noticed” and evaluated for a scholarship is that they must be seen, either in person or on video. Nowadays with social media, email and the internet, there are no excuses, no matter where you live! One of the biggest misconceptions I hear is that, “Help, I live in the middle of nowhere and nobody will come find me.” If your kid has some talent, coaches will find them ANYWHERE, but they must see them first and online video is probably your first step. College coaches won’t waste their time and money traveling to your child’s school without having some research done first. Your children don’t have to play on prominent AAU team or go to an expensive private school to get recruited, so there are no excuses with today’s technology to not get some video online and to start getting it out!
#2- Coaches are evaluating three core areas: skill, size and speed. Encourage them to focus on developing position-specific skills, to become masters of these fundamentals. Coaches are looking for consistent players who play with great fundamentals– not players who can make just one or two superstar plays a game. Keep developing those key 3-4 fundamentals, along with size and speed improvements, and you should see progress!
#3 – Since they are watching how you respond to problems, show your child that they can’t be derailed by every little setback. All players are facing adversities– what separates successful players is that they’ve learned to keep working to overcome setbacks. Eventually challenges can energize them, and celebrate when they overcome these big hurdles. They will gain confidence by overcoming each setback!
#4 – Help your child eliminate excuse-making, in everything that they do. Making excuses is an lazy habit and just an easy way to quit. Champions know that they can’t excuse their way out of their problems, that they need to work their way out. A strong work ethic begins with first eliminating the habit of making excuses and taking responsibility for their efforts!
#5 – Sacrifices are investments and to compete at the collegiate level, your child will likely have to make sacrifices. Getting up early, missing out on activities with friends and family, giving up junk food, saving money for campus visits or camps are all sacrifices they may need to make. Help them learn to see these as investments, and that by making these sacrifices now they will ultimately be gaining something they really want in the end.
#6 – Are they involved in too many activities and spreading themselves too thin in areas that are most important to them? Are they getting enough sleep? Do they have time set aside to handle their schoolwork? Help your children eliminate time-wasters to become more efficient in areas that are most enjoyable and important to them. By high school, teach them to be 5 minutes early, one of the biggest rules of almost every college coach in the country!
#7 – I hear all the time, “I’m just looking for an “opportunity.” Help your child understand that there are opportunities EVERYWHERE, EVERY DAY! Practice, class, meetings, off-season workouts and rehab ARE the opportunities. How players carry themselves is evaluated daily, and that is THE actual opportunity. And as far as scholarship opportunities go, not everyone will go Division I– and that’s not a bad thing! There are over 1,000 DII, NAIA and Junior College programs (most who offer athletic scholarships), along with 400+ DIII universities offering playing time and the opportunity to continue their playing career! OPPORTUNITIES ARE EVERYWHERE!
#8 – Encourage and expect your children to be great teammates, it will only add to their recruitability, not limit their chances. Believe me, there is PLENTY of room for everyone to shine — and all successful teams depend on their bench! I’ve been a part of a BCS National Championship, an SEC Football Title and an ACC Men’s Basketball Championship– and each team was the underdog throughout the season. But, we had a roster full of players who finally understood the value of teamwork who knew that it would literally take everyone on the roster to get us there. It can be a beautiful thing when team goals override personal agendas!
#9 – I’m often asked what minimum standards are required for grades and in other categories. Just meeting standards won’t set them apart from their competition and won’t make them successful later in life — they need to learn how to do their very best in everything they do and not just aim to meet the minimums!
#10 – Every college coach is looking for truly great leaders!There is no right or wrong way to lead, and developing leadership skills is one of the biggest intangibles that can help. The hardest part of leadership is speaking up in tough times, or remaining positive through losing streaks. Attitude is truly everything and leadership begins to multiple throughout the team and has a trickle-down effect!
#11 – Know that there are eyes everywhere– even if college coaches aren’t coming to your child’s games yet. Coaches are making calls daily asking all their contacts, “Who are the next up-and-coming players in the area?” Develop a great reputation in the area because you never know who is watching and giving feedback to college coaches, they have deep rolodexes of contacts!
#12 – Many of the scholarship players that we signed were players who came to us first, they didn’t sit back and wait for scholarships to come find them. Most of you will have to be proactive, especially with upperclassmen who have yet to hear from coaches. College coaches are limited by grade when they can contact high school players but recruits and parents can call, email or message coaches at any time! It’s never really “too late,” even for seniors but options will be more limited.
#13 – Never spend money on recruiting services to help your child get recruited. You can send their Student-Athlete Resume with their film and get better results. Stacks of these profiles sent by recruiting services aren’t taken serious, or even looked at, in many cases.
#14 – And yes, you can be the reason that your child isn’t offered a scholarship! Coaches are not only evaluating players, but they’re also evaluating their parents, mentors and inner circle. Difficult or negative parents become even more drama after their child enrolls and is on the roster! Not only will coaches be interacting with the athlete for the next four years, but the parents also!