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.
1. Be real with yourself
Be honest with yourself. Not every student is going to get into Yale and not every athlete can play for Alabama. And that’s OK. What’s not OK is being the recruit who doesn’t understand what schools make the most sense for your abilities. What type of a student are you? What type of an athlete are you? An honest self-assessment gets you focused on the right schools and on the fast-track to becoming a serious recruit.
2. Take Responsibility
This is your future and career. It’s not your mom’s or dad’s. It’s not your coach’s. It’s no one else’s but yours. If you want to play at the next level, do whatever it takes to get there. If you aren’t going to do what it takes, don’t blame anyone else for not getting you the scholarship that you didn’t really want that badly anyway. When it’s all said and done, you are the one that has to live with the outcome.
3. Get educated, early
You don’t know what you don’t know. And since you only go through the recruiting process one time in your career, it’s safe to say you probably don’t know how it all works. Many athletes realize they want to play in college no later than freshmen or sophomore year of high school. Usually, it’s even long before then because playing in college is a lifelong goal for a great number of athletes. So, start early. Ask questions and seek advice. When that recruiting window opens, you want to understand how to maximize your opportunities.
4. Be thankful
Roughly 7 percent of all high school athletes go on to play in college. The truth is that competing at the collegiate level will not become a reality for the vast majority of high school athletes. For those of you that are lucky enough to go through this process, don’t take it for granted. Enjoy the process. Be thankful for every letter, every email, every text and every phone call. Be proud that your hard work is being noticed, but keep in mind, signing is just the beginning.
5. Show respect
Disrespect closes doors. Conversely, respect opens more doors than you ever thought could be opened. Regardless of the situation, show respect to every coach you deal with. Be coachable. Take constructive criticism and show that you have an understanding of what the proper player-coach relationship looks like. There isn’t a college coach in the country that will knowingly recruit drama for their program.
6. Use caution on social media
Everything you do on social media represents who you are. You’re painting a self-portrait with everything you like, everything you retweet, everything you post and everything you share. Without a doubt, any college coach that recruits you is going to look you up before they speak with you. Would you be completely embarrassed with what they are seeing? Hope not.
7. Decide on a college once
Barring any coaching change or unforeseen personal issue, ask yourself this question before you commit, “Is there a chance that I will decommit from this school?” If your answer is “yes,” take a step back. Any hesitation in your decision needs to be resolved before you commit. Whether you feel it’s just too early to commit or you feel like you are making a decision based on what everyone else wants, don’t say “yes” when your answer should be “no” or “not right now.” When it comes to recruiting, indecision is typically a bad decision.
8. Worry about you, no one else
Comparing your recruiting experience to a teammate’s recruiting experience is a dangerous thing. Often, it leads to jealousy, envy and unnecessary self-scrutiny. It’s not fair to you and it’s not fair to your teammate. And, those type of feelings cause you to lose focus on what really matters: you! Every recruit is different. The reasons that make one recruit appealing to one program might not be the same for another. Focus on your fit and stay in your recruiting lane.
9. Lead your coach
Your coach’s opinion of you absolutely matters. It matters to college coaches. In fact, high praise from your coach can make or break the outcome to your college recruiting experience. Ask your coach to be a part of this process with you. Let him or her know of your intentions. Keep in mind, it’s not your coach’s job to find you a college scholarship. It’s your coach’s job to support you. Take the lead and you will realize how valuable and helpful your coach can really be.
10. Stick with it
How bad do you want it? That’s what you need to ask yourself. You will encounter setbacks. You will have to deal with failure. You will, indeed, be rejected. But, if becoming a college athlete is in your gut, you have to accept the process, the good and the bad. Stick to it, because playing at the next level will undoubtedly change your life forever.