Recruiting Column: College coaches' biggest pet peeves, Volume IV

Recruiting Column: College coaches' biggest pet peeves, Volume IV

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Column: College coaches' biggest pet peeves, Volume IV


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 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.

Over the last three years, I’ve written a few articles on “College Coaches’ Biggest Pet Peeves.” As most of you know, a pet peeve is “something that you find especially irritating or annoying and have no control over.” For example, my No. 1 personal pet peeve right now is the guy who thinks his car is so special that he can take up two parking places in the grocery store parking lot.

I’m sure you have a few pet peeves and I know college coaches do, too, particularly when it comes to potential recruits. As a potential college athlete, the last thing you want to do is irritate a college coach unnecessarily because you’re guilty of one of his or her pet peeves.  In our previous articles, we’ve covered everything from “Athletes who exaggerate their stats” to “Athletes who are rude to their parents.”

This is Volume IV of my list of college coaches’ biggest pet peeves. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. Don’t be that recruit who is guilty of any of the following five “recruiting pet peeves.”

1. Academy award winning recruiting videos

Believe it or not, college coaches don’t grade you on the quality of your recruiting video. That’s right, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a highlight video. In fact, a 10-minute video with the “Rocky” theme song playing in the background might do more harm than good. I’m sure your grandparents will show it to all their bridge club friends, but keep in mind, college coaches aren’t looking to watch a Hollywood production. In fact, it might send the wrong message and it is certainly a pet peeve for most college coaches.

Your recruiting video is merely a way for a coach to form an initial impression of your abilities. It is the first step of the recruiting process. It does not guarantee a scholarship and it won’t make you something you are not. In fact, with modern technology, most smartphone videos will work just fine! Don’t feel pressured into spending a lot of money on a recruiting video. Instead, put the money you save into your college fund. Your recruiting journey isn’t going to hinge on which theme song you pick as long as your video is clear, concise and shows your athleticism.

2. Emails from recruits who are not a match for their program

Sending an email to a college coach whose program isn’t a match for your athletic or academic abilities is a total waste of your time. And, it’s a total waste of the coach’s time too. In fact, sending an email to a school that is clearly not a fit will only irritate the coach. If you have a degree in history, would you apply for a job as a brain surgeon? I hope not and finding the right college is just as logical. You have to focus on schools that make sense for you.

If you’re realistic about who you are as a student and an athlete and you pursue appropriate colleges, then your recruiting journey will be a success. If you aren’t realistic, you’ll be frustrated and disappointed and you’ll waste your time and the time of many college coaches. It’s a lot more fun to send an email to a realistic college and get a response from a coach than to reach out to Coach K and hope for a miracle.

3. Recruits who have nothing to say

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you felt like you were talking to a brick wall?  How about a conversation with someone who wouldn’t make eye contact with you? What do you think about trying to talk to someone who stares at their phone, non-stop? Or my personal favorite, every time the other person responds to you, you’re thinking “did they hear what I just said?” Those are not fun conversations to have especially for a college coach who is trying to determine if a recruit is a viable candidate for his or her roster.

College coaches are looking for athletes who are confident, not afraid to fail and will add to the positive chemistry of their team. I totally understand that a conversation with a college coach can be stressful and nerve-racking at times and so do college coaches. It is 100% normal to be nervous and sometimes you can’t control that. That said, be prepared when you have a conversation with a coach and avoid this pet peeve altogether.

4. Recruits who don’t care about their grades

We’ve said it many times before, but it is worth repeating: academics are a critical part of a college coach’s equation when deciding on which recruits to offer scholarships. While this is true, college coaches also know that every athlete isn’t going to be Albert Einstein. If you aren’t a straight A student with a high ACT/SAT score that’s probably ok, but if your grades are a problem then you at least need to let the college coaches know you are trying to do something about it. Let them know you’re working harder in the classroom and/or plan to retake the ACT or SAT.

Not caring about your grades is much worse than trying your best and not quite making the honor roll. Recruits who don’t care about their grades probably aren’t going to do well in college and that’s why this pet peeve made the list!

5. Lawnmower (Bulldozer) parents

A Lawnmower Parent is a parent who clears all obstacles from their child’s path, so they never have to deal with any problems by themselves. It’s my understanding that in many parts of the country these parents are also referred to as Bulldozer Parents. Lawnmower/Bulldozer Parents don’t hover over their kids like Helicopter Parents, but instead they clear a path for their child and pre-empt any possible problems in their child’s way.

Lawnmower Parents tend to complain about the coach, the players and the officials. They act as if coaches, players and officials are just obstacles that need to be cleared out of the way, so their athlete can easily obtain their much-deserved greatness.

If a college coach determines that an athlete’s parents are truly “Lawnmower/Bulldozer Parents” they may steer away from that recruit.  There is no psychological study on the children of these parents that I am aware of, but I would bet money that those kids don’t deal with adversity very well and aren’t the most coachable athletes on the planet. Neither of these two attributes is a positive in a college coach’s eyes and that’s why Lawnmower Parents are included in my list of pet peeves.

Here’s the deal

Treat your college recruiting process as one long job interview. Avoid all the above pet peeves (and the ones in our previous articles) and you’ll be sure to get off on the right foot with almost every coach. Then, take ownership of your recruiting journey, be yourself and be persistent if you really want to play at the next level.


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