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 software identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting advisers provide a recruiting experience that is trusted by college coaches and backed by a money-back guarantee.
In my mind, if you want to play your sport in college, there is no acceptable excuse not to pursue your dream. Rather than making excuses, you need to make adjustments. I hear excuses about the college recruiting process all the time from athletes who haven’t found a college home. They include everything from “I don’t have time” to “It’s my coach’s fault” and everything in between. Here are the most common college recruiting excuses I’ve heard and my reaction to each one.
“I don’t have any time to spend on recruiting.”
If you aren’t a 5-star recruit, then the college recruiting process is going to take a little time and effort. That said, if something is important to you, I bet you find the time to make it happen. If it’s not that important, it’s easy to find an excuse not to do it. We all make time to watch our favorite TV show, but we generally have something else to do when it’s time to clean out the closet.
Listen, I realize high school athletes are busy, but if you really want to play in college, stop using the excuse that you don’t have the time. Commit a little time up front and then just a few minutes every few days. It will make a difference. The time you spend up front should include determining the proper level of competition for your athletic abilities. The fastest way to accomplish this is to have an honest conversation with your current coach. He or she will have a pretty good idea of the level of colleges you should pursue.
Then research the schools at that level to decide which ones you are interested in. After that, spend 15 minutes a day, three days a week reaching out to the coaches at those schools. It’s a small price to pay to play at the next level.
“I’m from a small school/program and college coaches don’t ever see me play.”
If college coaches don’t come to see your team play, you need to give them a reason to come to you play! Send an introductory email, connect on Twitter, send some game film and let a college coach know that you have interest in their program.
There is a starting point to the college recruiting process for every athlete. For some, the starting point might not require much effort. For others, it may require a little work to get the ball rolling. The key is to recognize which category you fall into. If you play at a school/program that doesn’t have a track record of producing college athletes, get ready to do a little work. You need to do whatever it takes to make college coaches recognize your abilities.
“College coaches aren’t responding to me.”
Here’s a newsflash: Not every coach who you send an email to or follow on Twitter is going to acknowledge your existence. In fact, they may not be able to correspond with you due to NCAA rules and regulations, or you might be sending emails to programs that you have no business sending emails to! I know that it might be hard to hear, but not every program that you have interest in is going to have interest in you.
If you’re trying to connect with coaches and you are being ignored, make an adjustment. Increase the number of connections you are trying to make. Change the level and type of colleges you are pursuing. Bottom line, no response is a response. Wake up and make an adjustment!
“The academic requirements at some schools are too high.”
If you aren’t happy with the schools you qualify for academically, or if your grades are limiting the number of colleges you can pursue, find a tutor, commit to a study program and/or take an SAT or ACT review course. An athlete with good grades and test scores is much more attractive to a college coach than an athlete with average grades and mediocre test scores.
College coaches don’t want to waste their time recruiting athletes who might struggle to stay eligible academically or worse yet can’t get past the college admissions office. Good grades and test scores are an indication of a student’s work ethic and achievement standards, for all areas of their lives and college coaches know that.
“My coach won’t/can’t help me.”
Unfortunately, some coaches don’t help their athletes with college recruiting. If that applies to you, just accept it and move on. There is nothing you can do about it and there is no reason to dwell on it. I can guarantee you this; for every coach that won’t help you, there are 5 coaches that will!
If your current head coach won’t help, ask an assistant coach, a skills coach or even an opposing coach. I bet you can find the support you need. Quit using the excuse that your coach isn’t helpful and figure out how to make your dream a reality.
Here’s the deal
When you’re looking for an athletic scholarship you should expect to run into a few obstacles along the way. All the schools you are initially interested in may not be interested in you and if they aren’t, it’s time for a change, not an excuse.