Kyle Winters was a standout high school pitcher who was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the fifth round and played seven seasons for various minor league teams. Kyle is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience and dedication, along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community, have made NCSA the largest and most successful collegiate athletic recruiting network in the country.
Understanding your role as the parent of a student-athlete during the college recruiting process can be confusing. Committing to a college is one of the biggest decisions that your child will make in the early part of their life and it’s important for parents to be involved in the process. But it’s also important for parents to understand the line between being a supportive parent and being an overbearing advocate for your child.
Below we take a look at the dos and the don’ts of contacting college coaches to help parents understand when they should talk to college coaches and when they should leave the talking to their student-athlete.
Understand the NCAA recruiting rules
All communication during the recruiting process is dictated by the NCAA recruiting rules and calendar. For most Division I and Division II programs, communication between college coaches and student-athletes and their families is prohibited until June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year. While student-athletes can send an introductory email to college coaches prior to this date, they should understand that the coach will be unable to respond until after the June 15 date. This rule applies to parents, as well.
Once communication can begin, parents should encourage their athlete to practice clear and consistent communication with college coaches throughout the recruiting process.
Ask questions during unofficial and office visits
Unofficial and official visits provide student-athletes and their families an opportunity to get to know a college coach, the athletic program and explore campus. During these visits, student-athletes and their parents are encouraged to ask questions. While parents should allow their athlete to take the lead during the conversation, college coaches understand that parents might have logistical questions around admissions and financial aid that a student-athlete might not think to ask.
Prior to a visit, parents should sit down with their athlete to discuss what questions you would like to ask the coach and determine who will be responsible for asking those questions during the visit. To help you and your student-athlete prepare for on-campus conversations with college coaches, here are 10 questions parents should ask college coaches.
Encourage your student-athlete
Contacting college coaches can be intimidating and athletes will likely lean on their parents for help during the process. Parents should be supportive, while also setting the expectation that the athlete is responsible for managing their own recruiting process.
Parents can help their athlete brainstorm talking points and questions, practice conversations for phone calls and visits and proofread digital communications, as long as the athlete remains responsible for sending emails, making phone calls and carrying the conversation during unofficial and official visits.
This level of support allows parents to help ease the stress their athlete may be feeling, while empowering them to take control of their own recruiting process. This will also impress college coaches, who look for athletes that take the lead and put in the effort during the recruiting process.
Read more: Should Parents Talk to College Coaches?
Contact college coaches
Plain and simple: student-athletes should be the only ones contacting college coaches during the recruiting process. While parents may be tempted to pick up the phone or send college coaches a quick email to talk about their child and ask questions, this may do more harm than good for your athlete.
College coaches want student-athletes to be an advocate for themselves, while parents provide a support system in the background. Student-athletes who take the lead and initiate email communication, phone calls and contact during recruiting events are more likely to catch the attention of college coaches than those who have their parents do it for them.
Read more: How to Contact College Coaches
Speak on behalf of the student-athlete
This is one of the biggest mistakes that parents can make during the recruiting process. While college coaches understand that parents want to and should be involved in the recruiting process, overstepping your bounds can put your athlete at risk of losing recruiting opportunities. Calling college coaches to advocate for your athlete or speaking on your athlete’s behalf during a visit can directly impact a college coach’s decision to continue recruiting your child.
The college recruiting process is intended to help coaches get to know student-athletes and help athletes get to know college coaches and the sports program. College coaches want athletes to speak for themselves, so they can gauge the athlete’s genuine interest in the program and whether they will be a good fit for the team. Remember, college coaches are recruiting the student-athlete, not the athlete’s parents.
If you’re worried about how your athlete will manage when conversing with college coaches, set aside time to role play. This will allow your athlete to practice having a recruiting conversation and give you an opportunity to provide constructive feedback on how they can improve.