The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
Over the past several years we’ve had the opportunity to talk recruiting with some of the top college coaches in the country. Their advice and thoughts on how college recruiting works is extremely valuable information for recruits in every sport. Here are answers to three of our questions on recruiting from recent interviews. This is practical advice from the people who matter.
Northern State basketball coach Paul Sather
Q: What advice do you have for parents of recruits?
A: “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.”
Nebraska Wesleyan basketball coach Dale Wellman
Q: How important is a high school coach’s opinion of a player?
A: “Those opinions are a big part of the recruiting process, for any player. Obviously, the more you know a coach at one of those levels, the more you value their opinion. That’s not to say anything negative about a coach that maybe I just met. Certainly, we are going to listen to any coach that talks to us about a young man we’re evaluating. But, I think you have to establish some sort of trust that what they’re telling you is objective. Because here’s why: most coaches are going to say good things about their players, and naturally so.
What really stands out to me when I’m talking to a coach is if I hear anything negative. For example, if a coach is trying to sell us on a player and he says something like, “I think he’ll be a good defender in college, or he doesn’t go real hard in practice, but he’s a gamer.” Those are red flags. It’s not like those things are overly-negative, but those kinds of things can be telling to who that player really is. If you can’t defend in high school, or you don’t give 100% in practice, what makes you think you’ll change once you’re in college?”
Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook
Q: What are some red-flags you watch for in a recruit?
A: “How do you interact with your teammates? How do you take feedback from your coaches? How hard do you work in practice when no one is supposed to be watching? For example, if you’re running sprints at practice, do you touch the line or are you a foot short? We pay attention to the details that might be less important to everyone else. Because you can find out a lot about a player in those details. If you’re taking shortcuts, you’re hard to play with or you don’t show a respect for the game, those are characteristics that will not only keep you from being successful but will keep our program from being successful. And, individual success is never more important than that of the team.”