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 Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology-based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.
As a former college athlete, I’ve obviously been through the recruiting process. I’ve experienced the evolution of thinking I could play in college, to knowing I could play in college, to actually playing at the collegiate level. I have felt the excitement of knowing college coaches were at my games to watch me play and I’ve realized the disappointment that I wasn’t quite what some coaches were looking for. From the day I got my first letter in the mail to the day that I signed my National Letter of Intent, I have, indeed, experienced the emotional roller coaster known as college recruiting!
With a personal understanding that college recruiting has so many ups and so many downs, I have some advice for college recruits of all ages and skill-levels, regardless of the sport: College athletics is a business, and it needs to be treated as such.
Whether you’re just starting the journey or close to making a decision on what college you’re going to attend, you would be wise to limit the amount of emotion you allow into your recruiting experience. By doing so, you are much more likely to make the best decision you can possibly make.
The following is a guide to taking a rational, business-like mentality to college recruiting.
Create a plan
Most high school student-athletes either forget or simply don’t know that this is the most important part of the college recruiting process. I am here to let you know that college recruiting is ALL about you, the student-athlete! This isn’t about college coaches, your parents, your high school coach… this is about you. And you must understand that you are the foundation for your college recruiting experience. You, you, you!
So, what exactly does that mean, in terms of creating a plan? Well, it means you need to figure out what it is that you want out of this process. What level do you want to compete at in college? What level can you compete at? What schools are you interested in? What do you want to major in and what line of work do you want to get into after you graduate? I could list out 100 questions, but I think you get the point.
To create a game plan, you must create one that is tailored to your wants and needs and it must be a game plan that makes sense for you.
- Identify schools that match your abilities, wants, and needs
- Introduce yourself to those programs (email, social media, etc.)
- Organize your correspondence with each program
Creating a plan is about having opinions and making decisions on what you want or what you don’t want.
Execute, adjust, and adapt
You remember how I said earlier that you should try to limit your emotion during the college recruiting process? This is where that comes into play. While creating a plan may be the most important part of the recruiting process, executing that plan is easily the most emotional part. Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” I’m not saying that college recruiting is going punch you in the face, but sometimes, it sure feels like it! Just remember, how you respond to those proverbial recruiting punches is what matters.
Even the most-perfectly designed plans don’t always work out the way we want them to, that includes college recruiting. A coach might tell you that he or she isn’t interested in you. You might get passed over for one of your teammates or the scholarship amount you are offered isn’t quite what you had hoped for. When the unexpected happens, things can get emotional and when things get emotional, it changes the way we make decisions.
You can’t let that happen with college recruiting. You have to commit to rolling with the punches and staying true to your goals.
The process of college recruiting is always something you can control. You can control what schools you have interest in, you can control what coaches you communicate with, and you can control how you respond to the yeses and nos. Be realistic with yourself and stay in control of your emotions. You will like the outcome.
Evaluate and decide
My promise to all recruits is that if you take care of 1 and 2, you will be satisfied and content with your college choice.
When it comes to recruiting, there are so many people out there telling you what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, or what they would do if they were you. There is no better time than now to be accountable for what you want and what matters to you.
If you have developed informed opinions, adjusted to your circumstances and know all of your college options, you know what you need to do. Trust your instincts and trust the process you followed to get here. You know this. You prepare, you practice and when it’s time for the game, you just play!
Isn’t that what college recruiting is really all about?