The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
It is currently estimated that the number of worldwide social media users is approximately 2.34 billion and is expected to grow to at least 2.95 billion by the year 2020 (that is Billion, with a “B”). It seems as though everyone has a social media presence and college coaches are no different. In fact, college coaches have become more and more active on social media and to some extent use it as a way to communicate with potential recruits. Right or wrong, most college coaches will assume that how you act on social media will be how you act on campus, so reviewing a recruit’s social media accounts makes a lot of sense. Given that fact, here are my 3 social media rules for high school athletes to live by.
1. Understand that your social media accounts might be a college coach’s first impression of you
A college coach’s first impression of you will most likely be from a review of your social media accounts. If your heart just skipped a beat, you probably have some social media cleaning up to do. College coaches generally do their homework on recruits well before the first phone call or email.
A quick review of anyone’s social media accounts can reveal a lot about that person. For that reason, most college athletic programs actually have someone in charge of reviewing and monitoring the social media accounts of prospective athletes. Many potential scholarships have been lost before an athlete is even considered a prospect just because of their behavior online and the recruit didn’t even know it.
There are many warning signs college coaches are looking for. Profanity or negative posts are certainly a problem, but if it’s apparent from your posts that your behavior might be questionable, you don’t get along with your coaches or teammates, or that you dread practice or hate homework, your name might have already been scratched off several recruiting lists.
2. Think twice, post once
Based on the above, every high school athlete looking for an athletic scholarship should seriously think about each and every share, post or tweet. The best advice I can offer is before you post, remind yourself that your “Grandma’s watching.” A good rule of thumb is to never post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read. If you’re sure that a post would get Grandma’s approval, then go ahead and post it! If not, you better think twice. Grandma would give approval to posts that avoid profanity, sexual comments, racial comments/slurs, and she would also remind you to spellcheck. You don’t want to be seen as the dumb kid who can’t spell.
Keep in mind that whether you like it or not, your posts reflect your character – good or bad. There is an old saying carpenters use to avoid mistakes: “Measure twice, cut once.” The same thought process holds true for social media: “Think twice, post once.”
If you make a mistake on social media, fix it right away
Everyone makes mistakes. If you happen to make a mistake on social media, it’s probably not the end of the world. The best thing you can do when you make a mistake of any kind is to admit it, learn from it and don’t let it happen again. Don’t make excuses, don’t blame someone else and don’t try to hide it. Here’s a 2-step solution to any social media mistake:
- Delete it immediately
- Take responsibility for it.
Listen, I’m not telling you to post a blanket apology across all your social media platforms, but if the subject of an inappropriate post comes up with a college coach or anyone else, just be honest, take responsibility and let them know it was just a mistake that won’t happen again.