To successfully navigate the college recruiting process, athletes will lean on their coaches and parents for support and guidance.
Presented by FieldLevel and Positive Coaching Alliance.
Coaches play a critical role in helping their athletes develop athletic and leadership skills. Not only do coaches help their athletes improve and become better players, they help them athletes grow as people and overcome adversity.
Parents are also incredibly important in the development of their kids both on and off the field or court. Whether it’s helping organize or coach teams, driving to and from practices and games, or helping with homework and studying, parents play a significant role in the lives of athletes.
Together, coaches and parents can make a significant impact on helping their athletes to find opportunities at the next level and it’s important that there is a healthy relationship between all 3-parties.
Communication is Key
One of the most important things that an athlete’s coach and parents should do early in the recruiting process is to set a meeting to get aligned on goals and expectations.
It’s typically up to the athletes and parents to initiate the first meeting with the coaches. Coaches are busy and have many athletes to oversee, so it’s important that athletes and parents make it clear they want to talk about the recruiting process by requesting a time to sit down for a discussion.
At this initial meeting, all parties need to be upfront about expectations and the process moving forward. Here are some key topics to discuss:
1) What level is right for the athlete?
Often the expectations of parents and coaches differ when it comes to the level of play athletes are targeting. It most situations, athletes want to play DI, so it’s important to speak with coaches about whether this is the right competition level and how athletes can continue to develop to become DI-type players.
Important insights can arise from this discussion. For example, perhaps an athlete is more concerned about playing for a DI team even if it means they are willing to spend most of the time on the bench. Or the reverse, playing time is key even if it means playing at a lower division. If an athlete isn’t DI capable, a realistic level to target should be established.
2) What are the right schools to target?
Once everyone is clear on expectations around competition level, it will help guide the discussion on which schools to target. Athletes and their parents should have some ideas of what types of schools they want to target and potentially have a list of their top choices. Before talking to their coaches about this, it’s important that athletes and parents have an internal conversation about the following:
Knowing the above will help coaches get a better idea of which schools to suggest for athletes. Coaches often will have relationships at certain colleges and can provide ideas around opportunities that may not have been on the radar of athletes and their parents.
Once a good list of target schools has been defined, the conversation should shift focus to how to get in front of the coaches at those schools.
3) What’s the plan for recruiting?
There are many different paths in college recruiting. Standout athletes may not have to work as hard to get exposure to colleges if they are already being actively recruited. However, for most athletes, the recruiting process is going to require more effort.
The first thing to establish is how involved the coach plans to be in the recruiting process. Although coaches play key roles in helping their athletes find opportunities to play in college, not all coaches see this as their responsibility. It’s important for parents and athletes to ask their coaches directly how they plan to help with the recruiting process and what level of involvement they can expect.
If coaches are planning to help, it’s important to understand their approach to recruiting. Here are a few questions to ask coaches:
Once the plan is in place, it’s important for both athletes and parents to diligently follow-up with their coaches and facilitate communication. Athletes and their parents should be sure to let their coaches know when they are in contact with colleges, when they have campus visits, and when they have received offers. Then, coaches can help analyze the offers and choose the best one.
Better communication between athletes, parents, and coaches will lead to better opportunities. Remember that the team is stronger than the individual and clear communication should always be a priority.
Over 700,000 coaches, athletes, and parents have collaborated on FieldLevel to navigate the recruiting process. As of November 2019, over 66,000 athletes have committed to play in college on FieldLevel.