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.comis an industry leader in college recruiting and is the affordable solution to high-priced recruiting companies. 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.
There’s no question that parents need to play an important role in their athlete’s recruiting process. However, in my opinion a parent’s role in their children’s athletic career should be to support, to watch and to encourage, not to manage and manipulate. A child’s success or lack of success in sports has very little to do with parenting skills. But, having an athlete who is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient, and who always tries his or her best is a direct reflection on his or her parents.
There are a number of reasons why a parent’s involvement is critical in youth sports, high school sports and especially, in the college recruiting process. Most parents are motivated to help their athlete, they certainly have the best handle on the family college budget and many times they come up with questions that the student-athlete would’ve never thought to ask. For those reasons parents need to be involved in the process, but here are my top three things parents need to understand when it comes to college recruiting.
College coaches evaluate parents, too
Whether you want to believe it or not, college coaches are paying attention to and evaluating the parents of every recruit they are truly interested in. Plain and simple, they want to avoid certain types of parents, if at all possible. In fact, a parent’s actions and behavior might actually influence a college coach’s attitude about a particular recruit.
If for some reason I haven’t convinced you, here are the thoughts of Pat Fitzgerald, the Head Football coach of the Northwestern University Wildcats: “An increasingly larger part of the evaluation of a prospect, for us, is evaluating the parents. It’s a big part of the evaluation. We have and probably will more so, and it’s a private deal – I’m not going to share who and where – but when we talk about our fit, we’re evaluating the parents, too. And if the parents don’t fit, then we might punt on the player and not end up offering him a scholarship.”
Parents need to understand that their actions and behavior at games or in meetings can make a difference. Parents need to be involved in the process, but they need to know their role. Be available to listen, provide support and don’t try to run the show.
Stats don’t matter as much as you think
There’s a reason that college coaches request game film and not statistics when they evaluate a potential student athlete. Just because an athlete scores 18 points a game, runs for 1,500 yards or hits .380 doesn’t mean he or she is good enough to play in college. College coaches have to see game film to really be able to determine if an athlete is a candidate for their program. They want to see what kind of athlete a kid is, how they move, how they react to adversity, how they compete and how he or she responds to a mistake. They also need to understand the level of competition they are facing. Statistics don’t reveal those factors.
Coaches want to get to know the student-athlete
College coaches evaluate a student-athlete’s personality, work-ethic and character just as much as their athletic abilities. They want to recruit someone who is going to be the right fit for their program and who is coachable. The best way to learn that is by getting to know each student-athlete.
Parents need to avoid being a “helicopter parent” and trying to run the process. And they don’t need to be a “sports agent” parent and call coaches on behalf of their kid. Either one will do more harm than good. Instead, parents should encourage their athlete to be confident enough to talk directly with any college coach he or she might be interested in. When the parent is the one calling the coach, sending the emails, and answering the questions, it doesn’t give the coach a chance to get to know the student-athlete.
Here’s the deal
Parents definitely need to be involved in the college recruiting process for their athletes. That said, every parent needs to understand their role and the things that really matter to a college coach. If they do, it’s a win, win, win situation for the athlete, his or her parents and the college coach.