I’ve said it in previous blogs, “recruiting is a perfectly inexact science.” As a parent, you will rack your brain trying to figure out this unpredictable process. ‘Why is that boy being recruited over my son?’, ‘what does the coach see in that girl? She’s slower than my daughter’, ‘why was the coach on the phone while my son was pitching? Does he like him? Does he not like him?’ Trust us, you’ll start asking yourself ridiculous questions. We have seen three commonalities in families who have gone through a successful, enjoyable, and (somewhat) stress-free recruiting process. Hint: the most important one is at the end.
Rule 1: Keep an Open Mind
“I am interested in Harvard, Stanford, Vanderbilt, USC, UCLA and Michigan.” Well, that’s great, you should shoot high, but what happens if those don’t work? Does your family consider it a failure? What if your child ends up at Tufts, or Washington University (both top 25 institutions)? Are these failures?
Being closed-minded can lead to two things. First, instilling a sense that anything other than this (probably unrealistic) list you have put together is a failure. Second, you are limiting the opportunity to find the place where your child can thrive academically, athletically, and socially. The perfect fit.
Take a look at this graphic and digest how hard it is to achieve being a college athlete.
Let’s do a quick example. Say you want to be an Ivy League baseball player. There are 8 Ivy League teams. On average they are recruiting 8 players per year. 8 schools multiplied by 8 players per school is 64 Ivy League incoming freshman. If there are 486,567 participants in high school baseball, that means .01% will go on to play Ivy League baseball. It’s HARD! Keep your options open.
.01% Please let that sink in
We are not saying and “open mind” means looking at every school in the world. You should have some direction. You can download our Free Recruiting Toolkit to help you get started in the right direction.
Our rule of thumb is all options should be entertained, not all options should be pursued. The worst thing you could do is cross a school off because ‘I’ve never heard of it.’
Rule 2: Control What You Can Control
There are many things that families often harp on through the recruiting process that are totally out of your control. Here are a few of the most common uncontrollable’s that families face.
- Being preoccupied with the other players and their recruiting process. Don’t play the comparison game. Worrying about what other players are doing is as effective as trimming your lawn with scissors. You’ll be frustrated the entire time, and by the time you look up you have run out of daylight.
- Coaches filling their recruiting classes fast. A friend of mine always reminds people that it’s called an “early commitment” for a reason. It’s common that many schools will have an accelerated recruiting timeline, and your recruiting mix will not match up to their timeline. You can’t control the feelings a coach has about other players they see, and when they commit to them.
- Your results on a given day. Sometimes you don’t play well. It’s not intentional. You cannot control how you perform on a given day. You can control your effort, attitude, and preparation, but not your performance. (I’ll explain more below)
Here are a few of the most common controllable’s that you should focus on.
- Be focused on your process. If your friends commits, congratulate them and move on. Don’t become envious that you’re the better player, and you should be the one committing. Each recruiting timeline unfolds at it’s own pace. If you stop putting effort into worrying about the other kids, you will see a dramatic shift in your ability to enjoy this process.
- Show interest in the school and let it play out. Reach out to coaches and let them know you are interested, who you are, what your profile is (grades, video, etc), and how they can see you. If they fill their class prior to seeing you, that is out of your control. If they like another player better, that is out of your control. What’s in your control is your ability to communicate with them and put your best foot forward trying to be seen. All of them have email. Reach out.
- Control your effort, attitude, and preparation so you can trust your ability on game day. If you’ve ever had a good coach or paid attention to good professional players and coaches, you’ve noticed that they all talk about how the preparation and practice they do allows them to go out and play on game day. If you are putting your work in as a player, and you are prepared to play, then all you have to do is trust your ability on game day. If you don’t prepare, you will be the guy on the foul line worrying about his mechanics, or the hitter in the box worrying about his first at bat. Give your best effort and put your best attitude forward. Coaches pick up on body language better than hostage negotiators. Your attitude speaks volumes to how you’ll fit in a college program. Positive attitude, your best effort, and sound preparation will lead to you having a good performance.
Rule 3: Family is More Important Than Being Recruited
Chances are you will butt heads with your family members during the recruiting process. It’s a stressful time. If you take nothing else away from this blog, please take this.
Parents: Be their number one supporter. The absolute worst thing you can do is get in the car when the game is over and ask, “what happened on that ground ball through your legs?” The process itself adds enough pressure. Be a cheerleader, not a judge.
Players: Be appreciative of the sacrifices that your family is making to allow you to achieve your goals. Understand that mom & dad probably missed days of work, are driving you to early morning practice while you are passed out in the passenger seat, and have spent enough money on you being recruited to buy themselves a new Mercedes. Say ‘thank you’.
If you follow just this rule, you will be able to put your head on your pillow at night knowing you are doing the right thing as a family.