During the recruiting process, many athletes feel pressured to strive for perfection — wanting to make the best play or craft the perfect email. But the truth is that college coaches expect student-athletes to struggle a little.
They know they’re dealing with teenagers who are treading into unfamiliar territory. It kind of makes sense when you think about it: professionalism isn’t really any 16-year-old’s forte, and that’s OK.
In fact, it actually works to their advantage — coaches highly value prospects who embrace the hardest parts of their recruiting and remain positive. They want to recruit athletes who can deal with the unfamiliar and still keep going after their goals.
We’ve listed five skills athletes will learn during the recruiting process that not only show coaches they can successfully handle all changes that come with college but will also help pave the way to a smoother and more successful transition to a career and adulthood.
Be respectful of authority — from parents to coaches, teammates, teachers and more
College coaches evaluate more than just your child’s athletic ability — they look for signs of maturity and that a recruit is “coachable.” And nothing tells them that more than the way an athlete treats authority figures.
We’ve heard too many stories about student-athletes who were no longer considered by a college coach because they ignored a coach or were disrespectful to their parents during college visits.
College coaches also pay attention to the way student-athletes talk about their peers, high school coach and other college coaches. Do they place blame when they’re benched during a game? Do they sulk or yell at their parents after a tough loss?
Stay organized and independent, even when stepping outside of their comfort zone
As much as you want to help, you can’t call and talk to college coaches on your child’s behalf. Your children need to reach out and do the work if they want to be taken seriously. The sooner and more often they do it, they better they will become. Try not to be too critical if they forget to ask a question during a call with a college coach, for example. They will improve over time.
In many ways, student-athletes already are getting a small taste of the college experience. They’re stepping out of their comfort zone, taking ownership of a process and practicing all the important things, like time management and organization.
Honestly, some adults still struggle with this (we all have that one co-worker …). You can definitely encourage them along the way, but make sure you let them practice their independence, too. It will benefit them in the long run.
Be confident and promote their skills while remaining humble
You know the feeling you get when you’re in a job interview and the employer asks about your strengths? You’re supposed to brag just the right amount — sound confident, but not cocky.
It all seems kind of awkward. Now imagine going through that as a teenager. Terrifying, right?
During your children’s recruiting experience, they’ll learn how to promote themselves while remaining humble. That’s no easy task. Not only are they discovering what sets them apart from other recruits, but they’re also becoming their own advocates, too. These are skills they can use (you guessed it) in future job interviews.
Do research and make tough choices
Research is key to finding a program and a school that is a good fit for your child. Looking at the college roster, for example, will show you the kind of player the coach wants. Talking to college-athletes at that university will give your family insight into the kind of experience you can expect. Virtually every big moment in life — from a career change to purchasing a home — requires a lot of tedious research. It’s important athletes shows coaches they’re motivated enough to take on this responsibility.
Be patient with the process, even when it’s slow going
Student-athletes do a lot of work (see: the research and self-promotion points above) to get on a college coach’s radar. And after they do all that work, they’re usually left waiting.
Coaches are extremely busy — while some respond right away, most don’t. This experience is so valuable for high schoolers who live in a completely digital world where instant gratification is the norm.
They’re going to face a lot of moments growing up where they won’t get immediate answers. And with the college decision being such a huge milestone, they’ll understand that some of the best things are worth waiting for – and require as much patience as they do persistence.
We know the recruiting process has a lot of ups and downs, and the downs are the more memorable in the short term. But rest assured that children are taking an active role in their recruiting, they are learning valuable life lessons — and college coaches will take notice.