The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
The goal of every serious high school athlete is to sign a college scholarship. For most athletes, that means hard work both on the field and in the classroom starting as early as eighth grade. Participation in athletics while attending high school is difficult. In addition to your school work, you have practice, lessons, camps and tournaments. It is a sacrifice.
You will miss a party or two to play in a game, or a trip to the lake because your summer team has a tournament. When you’re in high school, those are big deals, but you make the sacrifice because the reward is worth it. If you are one of the few with the talent to play in college, you have to realize is that there is actually more to come.
The work has just begun
Once you sign a National Letter of Intent, the recruiting process is over, but your collegiate career has just begun. It’s not time to hit the brakes; it’s time to accelerate. You don’t just want to show up to college; you want to be ready to go from day one.
Many scholarship athletes come to college expecting to have significant playing time immediately, but the truth is, there are no guarantees. Newsflash… You are not the only player the coaches have signed. In addition to competing for playing time with the new crop of signees, you will also be competing for playing time against current players on the roster, the proven veterans. That gives them an advantage. You need to be ready to compete when you arrive on campus.
Size up the competition
Once you sign, if you really want to play as quickly as possible then it’s not a bad idea to “size up” the roster:
- Determine who you will be competing against for playing time. If they are upperclassmen, figure out what they do well and commit to doing it better.
- Analyze how many players are there at your position and decide how you stack up against those players. You might want to spend additional time in the weight room or refining your skills before you hit campus.
- Talk to the coaches and ask them what you need to do to contribute to the team as quickly as possible.
It’s no fun to sit on the bench, so work hard before you leave for college and be as prepared as possible once you move into your dorm room.
Be prepared: College life is an adjustment
College life is an adjustment for all students. You’re on your own for the first time, you need to learn how to manage your time and if you add the requirements of being part of a team, it can be overwhelming. The athletes who take the time to plan their class schedule, take advantage of the tutors offered by the team and work hard generally adjust much faster and play much sooner.
Playing a sport in college is not like a full time job, it is a full time job. Scholarship athletes can spend as much as 50-60 hours per week at practice, watching game film, lifting weights and preparing for games. Being a college athlete will be one of the biggest commitments of your life, so you better be prepared for the grind.