By Tom Kovic
The college search for athletes is an individual and tactical quest that will play out differently across the board. If you happen to be that 5 star prospect that every college coach has his eye on, your biggest challenge will likely be which college to choose! But if you are among the majority of prospects that are lumped into the next level of recruits, your college journey will be a little more challenging.
This article focuses on 5 simple tips to maintain focus in college recruiting that will help families realize that the recruiting process is not always a straight run with the prize waiting for you at the end of the process. You WILL run into resistance, challenges and frustrating circumstances and the family who can identify potential pitfalls and learn to avoid chatter and remain steady, will weather the college search storms with greater success.
Control your playing field
It is a misconception that student-athletes have little control over where they can attend college. With an honest evaluation of their academic and athletic abilities and goals, and a careful analysis of colleges that may meet their needs, student-athletes can effectively direct the college recruiting process and close in on a college where they can thrive.
That being the case, the college quest requires tremendous effort that at times, will shake your self-confidence and test your personal resolve, especially when times get tough and the communication with coaches seems distant at best. The prospect and family who identify clear goals while remaining resolute to executing a well-designed college search plan will navigate the recruiting process with greatest success.
Avoid the chatter
Whether it is good, bad or indifferent, we truly live in an information society. On a daily basis, we read or hear about fiends, teammates and countless prospects who are claiming solidified commitments to various colleges and universities nationwide. Much of what you hear out there is simply “chatter” and whether it is a verbal offer of an athletic scholarship or to support a prospect in admissions to a select academic institution, this outside talk can create personal turbulence if you let it.
Do not be distracted by where other prospects and families are positioned in the recruiting process, or what you hear or read about online or in chat rooms. Maintain YOUR course of action and remain dedicated to a systematic time-line and plan of action. The recruiting process is a marathon and not a sprint.
Develop “thick skin”
Communication between college coaches and prospects can seem vague, abbreviated and somewhat “code-like,” especially during the early stages of recruiting. Every college coach delivers information differently about where a prospect stands.
As the recruiting process builds momentum, so too does the clarity in which coaches deliver messages to prospects. Be prepared. There WILL be a level of disappointing news that a percentage of college coaches will provide you. Perhaps the availability of athletic scholarships has exhausted or based on coach’s evaluation, she does not see you as a viable prospect. This is a natural part of recruiting and do all you can to avoid taking any negative information personally.
Look further out
It is good to stay focused in the moment and with the task at hand, yet it is also helpful to climb up into the crow’s nest and see the bigger picture to the quest.
Think of the college search like a ship on the ocean. The destination is clear, but the voyage is long and filled with potential challenges. Many targets and operatives are immediate and regular…Some are a little further out that require vision and well-planned strategy.
Medium and long-term planning is helpful with growing strong and successful momentum in the recruiting process, but it also prepares us for the potential bumps in the road along the way. It helps us enjoy each positive engagement and connection with college coaches that helps build momentum, but it also numbs the sting when faced with any negative feedback.
Diligence and commitment will, in the end result, be your defining tools in the college recruiting process. The blue chip prospects will simply be found, recruited and signed. “B” file prospects on the other hand will need to duke it out with a high volume of athletes competing for attention from college coaches. If you are waiting for your inbox to fill or the phone to ring, it could be a long wait.
Remain on the radar screen with regular and proactive communication. Whether it is an e-mail to update to Coach with your latest YouTube video, or a phone call to discuss the program in greater detail, be sure your communication has “grip” and it is part of a seamless effort in developing a meaningful dialogue and helping coach evaluate you.
The college search for athletes has evolved to new and exciting levels. The competition for athletic scholarship, admission support and even walk-on opportunities is fierce. Embrace this and you will appreciate the stakes in an effort to realize the importance of careful planning and impeccable execution during every step of your college quest.
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