USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Jaimie Duffek was one of the top 50 high school softball players in Illinois who went onto play outfield for Drake University. Jaimie is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation, and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
Balancing school and sports can be difficult, and that applies to both student-athletes and parents. It’s not just the daily responsibilities of school—it’s also planning ahead and making decisions that could impact student-athletes through college and beyond. Juggling these responsibilities while also prepping for college recruitment and applications can seem overwhelming at times, and it’s one of the reasons why NCSA developed Team Edition, a powerful software tool that helps high school and club coaches track and support their athletes’ recruiting process.
One of the reasons why Team Edition is so effective is that it allows coaches to oversee a student-athlete’s recruitment process without micromanaging them. Coaches can see when their athletes reach out to colleges and receive replies, which schools they’re targeting, which athletes are receiving interest from college coaches, and more. The reason it works is it gives student-athletes ownership of their recruiting but allows them to work together with one of the most influential people in the process–their current coach–so they can provide the necessary oversight.
“Oversight vs. Over Manage” is also a good approach that more parents should consider in regard to their athletes’ busy schedules. Burnout among young athletes is becoming more common during a time when there’s more pressure to perform on the field and in the classroom. However, micromanaging schedules takes the feeling of responsibility away from student-athletes, resulting in decreased enjoyment of successes and decreased ownership of failures. Fortunately, we’ve included some helpful tips that can help you avoid micromanaging your athlete.
Don’t Only Talk about Sports
Even if you have a star athlete, there’s a good chance that they have other interests than just their chosen sport. It’s difficult to shake the Friday night lights mentality when people around you only talk about sports, but student-athletes also have other interests and hobbies. As the NCAA likes to mention in their advertisements, “There are over 400,000 NCAA student-athletes, and most of us will go pro in something other than sports.” Sports teach us valuable life skills, but that doesn’t mean they should always be the focus. When you talk to your athlete about their interests, it can give them a reprieve from constantly thinking about sports and make them feel like they have some breathing room.
Don’t Make Constant Attempts to Motivate
Does it sometimes feel like you get more excited for games than your athlete? It’s possible, but just because they’re not brimming with excitement doesn’t mean they aren’t looking forward to competing. Maybe they’re just an even-keeled athlete type, or maybe they’re nervous and try to relax instead of stressing out. Student-athletes have different ways of doing things, but when they’re constantly receiving external pressure, that can inhibit their internal motivation. Try giving them some space and see how things go.
Be a Good Listener
As a parent, it’s easy to worry. Every parent wants to see their kids succeed and that’s why so many share advice and their own experiences. The problem comes when the good-intentioned feedback is given without rest. For student-athletes, it becomes easy to tune it out after a while, even when it’s invaluable information. Instead, try listening more. It can be difficult to get teenagers to open up, but many will do so when they’re actually asked about their interests. What are their goals? What do they want to pursue? If it’s sports, great! Just letting young athletes know that you’re listening can take the pressure off.
Don’t Make Too Many Decisions
Should I focus on this sport year-round, or try playing other sports throughout the year? Should I travel across the state to attend the big camp? How will I train over the summer? Where should I apply to college? All these questions can be difficult for a teenager to handle, but it’s important to let them at least make some of them. Parents won’t always be around in college and beyond, so it’s crucial that student-athletes start learning to make some big decisions for themselves. It’ll also make them feel more in control and less like they’re being micromanaged.