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.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology-based recruiting software identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting advisors provide a recruiting experience that is trusted by college coaches and backed by a money-back guarantee.
It’s pretty common for high school student-athletes to not set specific, measurable goals for where and at what level they want to play in college and certainly most don’t set goals for each year of high school. In fact, the idea of setting specific, measurable goals doesn’t even cross most teenagers’ minds. They’re too busy just getting through the school day, getting to practice on time and texting, tweeting or sharing with their friends. For that reason, I’m here to tell you that having clear goals is one factor we know helps success in any endeavor (including college recruiting) and it doesn’t take much time.
Establish your goals before you start
Establish your personal college goals before you start the recruiting process and change them as you go, if necessary. If your goal is to play your sport in college, write that down. Psychology tells us that writing a goal down is much more powerful than simply thinking of your goal. Write down the specific level you want to play at and plaster it somewhere that you will see it every day. Then tell people. Give your guidance counselor, your coach, friends and even the grocery store cashier a heads-up. This “tell people” technique is used by some of the most successful people in the world to help keep themselves focused on their goals.
Break your goals into obtainable steps
After you set your specific goals, break them into steps. What do you have to do each year academically to accomplish your college goals? What grades do you have to make? What do you have to do athletically? What are your athletic weaknesses? What do you have to do to turn those into strengths? Should you go to showcases or camps? Which camps are affordable for your family? Map out the smaller steps that lead to your ultimate goal.
For each year in high school take a few minutes to list the goals you have to accomplish. That gives you focus. And, it will feel great when you actually cross a goal off the list. I think there’s psychology behind this, but I know it keeps you motivated.
Chart your progress
It’s not a bad idea to create an academic and athletic chart to keep you on track. Setting academic goals will help when it’s 11 o’clock, you’re tired and you’re tempted to use the “my dog ate my homework” excuse. Academic goals remind you why you’re going to stay up and get it done.
Do the same for your athletic goals. Make very specific charts for your athletic accomplishments each year based on factors that you can control. Maybe you need to work on quickness or focus on ball handling. Those are skills that you can work on and control. You can’t control being named MVP of the league or being named Athlete of the Week.
Here’s the deal
If you set a specific goal with respect to college recruiting, you’ll have a much better chance of achieving your ultimate goal. Take a few minutes today to write down your ultimate goal and then talk with your coach, parents or teachers to develop a game plan to accomplish that goal.