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Over the last several years we’ve interviewed college coaches at every level and from many different sports. Their advice to student-athletes on the recruiting process has been great! We’ve asked them every recruiting question in the books, from how they identify potential athletes, to how social media has changed college recruiting and everything in between. One question we’ve asked quite often is “What’s your advice to parents of student-athletes going through the recruiting process?” Here are the answers to that question from three current college head coaches.
Northern State University Basketball Coach Paul Sather
“There’s a fine line between supporting your child and doing too much. I look back at my parents and then the parents of some of the best kids I’ve coached, and I’ve learned what genuine support is all about. As a parent, you’ve got to let your kid fail. Let them learn by getting through the ups and downs that come with playing sports. Unfortunately, we see a lot of parents that try to make everything perfect for their children. They try to remove all the barriers or obstacles that life is going put in front of their kids. And, what ends up happening to those kids is that they don’t learn how to handle adversity. They’ll quit or move on to something that’s a safer bet. I just don’t think that’s healthy or productive, at all.
Listen, I’m a dad, too! I just think sometimes we need to get out of the way and let them struggle. Let them fail. Now, be there to pick them up and love them. But, don’t be there to fix it for them and make everything perfect for them.”
Yale University Lacrosse Coach Andy Shay
“We want self-starters in our program. And not only for our program but also for our university. You’re just not going to bear fruit at a place like Yale if you can’t take the initiative during the recruiting process. Additionally, I know that every high school kid in America has an online presence. You all have an email account and access to everything you need!
If you can’t take the time to let us know what you’re looking for in a college home, don’t waste your time having your parents do it for you. It goes back to that idea of toughness. Are you really cut out for this if you’re mom and dad are doing all the work for you? If you were a coach, would you rather have the kid that handles it himself, or has his parents do it all for him? My advice for parents is to let your child take the lead. That’s the way it’s going to be once they’re on campus, anyway.”
University of Arkansas Baseball Coach Nate Thompson
“Certainly, we want parents involved in the recruiting process. It’s their child and they’ve been a part of this whole thing from the get-go. But, here’s the deal: coaches want to deal with players, not parents. We’re recruiting your son to be a part of our program and we want to communicate with him. What does he want? What does he think? Those are the opinions that matter the most to us. If we’re dealing more with a parent, than we are with a recruit, that’s not a good thing.
Ideally, parents would play a supportive role and let their son do the talking. Sure, help him gather info, provide objective feedback and get your son to a place where he’s seeing every angle. But, to play at a school like Arkansas, your son has got to be able to put himself out there and be bold. If he can’t do that during the recruiting process, he’s probably not going to have a lot of success, once he’s on campus.”