The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
95% of the parents of student-athletes are great, but the other 5% give parents a bad reputation. You know the ones I’m talking about. You don’t want to sit next to them at games, they constantly complain about the coaching and believe their athlete never makes a mistake. College coaches notice these parents too and if possible tend to stay away from them. They pay attention to and evaluate the parents of every recruit they are truly interested in, so you don’t want to be mistaken for a 5%er.
Here are my five categories of parents that college coaches try to avoid at all costs. I bet you know at least one parent that fits each of these descriptions.
Helicopter Parents hover over their kids like a TV news helicopter over a 6-car pileup. They take an excessive interest in the life of their child or children and might even try to influence the college recruiting process for their athlete. All parents (myself included) have displayed the characteristics of a Helicopter Parent at one time or another, but the problematic Helicopter Parent is easy for a college coach to spot.
A full-fledged Helicopter Parent might talk to college coaches at inappropriate times and try to “manage” their athlete’s recruiting experience. This behavior interferes with the ability of college coaches to really get to know the recruit. Parents need to walk that fine line between being a supportive role model and a hovering college recruiting helicopter.
Sideline Coach Parent
The Sideline Coach Parent is probably the easiest parent to spot in a crowd. They typically sit on the first row and “coach” their athlete the entire game. In fact, they might even go to practice and offer their “expert” advice. Listen, I’m not talking about the occasional words of encouragement, or reminding your athlete about what they might have worked on in practice recently. We’ve all been guilty of that, but a parent who coaches from the sideline and ignores the status of the head coach is out of line. And, when the athlete acknowledges his or her parents’ advice and reacts to their suggestions or comments, it really becomes a problem.
Scouting Director Parent
The Scouting Director Parent actually believes that their opinion about their athlete’s abilities is completely objective. I’m certainly not objective about my kids and (I think) that’s okay.
Parents need to be their athlete’s No. 1 fan! The trick is to realize that you aren’t objective and find someone who will be. Without an objective evaluation of your student-athlete, your expectations during the college recruiting process will most likely be unrealistic.
Sports Agent Parent
Believe it or not, some parents actually contact college coaches on behalf of their kids. That’s right, they call or email college coaches and introduce themselves as “Nick’s dad”. I guess they go on to explain how good Nick really is and why he might be a good fit for that coach’s team. I’m pretty sure that’s a hard sell. While a parent making phone calls is better than no one calling, the best approach is for the athlete to initiate the contact with coaches.
A Lawnmower Parent is a parent who clears all obstacles from their child’s path, so they don’t have to ever face adversity. The Lawnmower Parent tends 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 more easily obtain greatness.
There is no scientific study on children of lawnmower parents that I’m 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 are a positive in a college coach’s eyes.
Here’s the deal
Do you know any parents that fit into the above categories? My guess is you do. If, for some reason, your heart skipped a beat while reading this recruiting tip, you might want to reassess your game-time behavior.