USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting experts provide a recruiting experience that is backed by a money-back guarantee.
About this time last year one of my recruiting columns was titled College Coaches Biggest Pet Peeves. Well, a year later I feel like it’s time for Volume II.
As a reminder, the dictionary definition of a pet peeve is: “Something that you find especially irritating or annoying and have no control over.” My top two pet peeves have changed a little since last year. Right now they are: (1) people who are so focused on their latest text message they don’t have a clue when the stop light turns green, and (2) people who share every moment of their life on Facebook right down to the Frosted Flakes they had for breakfast.
We all have pet peeves, and based on our conversations and interviews with college coaches, they certainly have pet peeves when it comes to dealing with student-athletes and their families. You absolutely don’t want to be that recruit who annoys a coach right out of the chute, so here are five more pet peeves we’ve heard over and over from college coaches.
Pet Peeve No. 1: Athletes who exaggerate their stats
One of the fastest ways to have your name permanently scratched off a recruiting list is to overstate or even project your athletic or academic statistics and accomplishments. If you think college coaches don’t cross-check this information, you’re kidding yourself. Exaggerating your statistics to a college coach is like a sixth grader who uses a red pen to change his grade on an English paper from a D- to a B+ before he shows it to his parents. It’s not going to have a good ending. You have to be honest about your abilities and let the process work itself out.
If you’re an underclassman, don’t worry about the fact that you aren’t as fast or as strong as you believe you will be. College coaches know that for underclassmen they need to project where each player might be as a senior. They also understand that some athletes develop later than others. If you’re realistic about your abilities, your chances to find a college scholarship increase tenfold. If you overstate your statistics and abilities, your recruiting process is destined for failure. How do you think a coach is going to react when he or she finds out the truth?
Pet Peeve No. 2: Athletes who show up out of shape
Once you sign a scholarship, your recruiting process is over, but your collegiate career has just begun. It’s not time to hit the brakes; it’s time to accelerate. If you show up on campus overweight and out of shape, your new coach isn’t going to be impressed. You need to lay off the pizza and milk shakes and keep working hard.
If you want to play and not just sit on the bench, you not only have to get ready, you have to be ready before you get to campus. You can’t afford to just show up; you need to be ready to go from day one. The athletes you’ll be competing against for playing time are all as good as or better than you are and most of them will be upperclassmen. Also, understand that there’s going to be an adjustment period for incoming athletes caused by the dramatic increases in classroom and athletic workload. Most athletes don’t realize the effect these new changes in lifestyle will have on their performance. Those who arrive on campus mentally and physically prepared usually adjust much quicker and succeed that much sooner.
Pet Peeve No. 3: Athletes who make negative comments about their coach
If you don’t have something nice to say about your current coach, then don’t say anything at all. Take that advice to the bank when it comes to college recruiting. College coaches don’t want to listen to complaints about your coach’s game time decisions, his or her play selection, or how practice is conducted. They also don’t need to hear from any source that you question your coach’s authority or decisions. If they do, they will assume that behavior will continue into college and then your behavior becomes their problem.
Finally, college coaches will listen to your current coach and if your relationship isn’t good, don’t expect a scholarship offer. Marian football coach Mark Henninger summed it up best when he told us: “Bottom line, the alpha and the omega of the list of people we trust regarding a recruit is the high school coach or the high school coaches.”
Pet Peeve No. 4: Athletes who are reckless on social media
Tweeting and posting has almost replaced talking for many young adults. For that reason, college coaches have become more and more active on social media to research and communicate with potential recruits. Believe it or not, most college coaches will assume that how you act on social media will be how you act on campus. For that reason, your actions and behavior on social media in high school are critical if you expect to play in college.
Most college athletic programs actually have someone in charge of reviewing and monitoring the social media accounts of prospective recruits. They’re hoping to not find inappropriate posts and if they do, many times they will move on to the next recruit on the list. There have been thousands of recruits deleted from recruiting lists based just on their social media behavior. In fact, if a coach doesn’t like your Twitter handle he or she may not even consider you a viable prospect.
You can count on the fact that if you act foolishly on social media, it will be seen by college coaches and that could affect your scholarship opportunities. College coaches don’t want to inherit a social media problem from any recruit.
Pet Peeve No. 5: Overbearing parents in the stands
Everyone knows a parent or two who continually complains about the coaches, the players and the officials. If you’re one of those parents, just understand that you might be sitting next to or near a college coach evaluating your athlete. If your heart just skipped a beat, you better adjust your attitude!
College coaches know that this kind of behavior teaches a young athlete to make excuses for their mistakes. It also creates an atmosphere of tension, and tense athletes typically don’t perform very well. Finally, this kind of behavior will most likely continue into college and then the college coach will have to deal with it. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Just enjoy watching your athlete compete and let them start the conversation about the game on the car ride home.
Here’s the deal
As a potential recruit, you need to be mindful of your actions and behavior while you’re going through the recruiting process. Don’t irritate a college coach before you even meet them!