So Mom and Dad, you have visions of your youngster playing sports in college. You got them involved in youth sports when they were 5, 6, or 7 years of age. You noticed that they were a little bit or a lot better than their peers. You noticed that they always wanted to go to practice, had fun in games, in some cases, they hated to lose. At some point in time you started wondering if playing college sports could be a way to help pay for college. If you came to this conclusion your child’s junior year in high school, you already know how late you are in preparing them adequately. However, if you come to this conclusion when they are 6th or 7th graders, then you are wondering what you need to do to prepare your child for playing college sports. Depending on the sport, how does a parent find the best competition for their child so they can develop their athletic skills? How much money is all of this preparation going to cost? How competitive is it and how can I get a return on that investment?
In the following series of articles, I’ll address the following questions: In part one, how competitive is it to play a sport in college? And, what do parents need to do to give their child the biggest competitive advantage over their peers? In part 2: how much of an investment needs to be made in time and scarce resources? What activities should you invest in? In Part 3: a history of the recruiting help industry. In Part 4: if you decide you need help, what are the best resources for that help?
The numbers are daunting! If you’re a boys high school basketball player in the US, you have a 4% chance of playing in college. Now statistics lie, so let’s dig into this one a little. Last year, there were 552,935 HS basketball players. There are 1733 college basketball programs at all levels – Junior College, NAIA, NCAA D1, D2, & D3. With an average of 12 kids on a roster, you can do the math. (Find out your sport’s numbers here.) Now obviously not all 552,935 basketball players are going to be good enough to play in college, have the competitive desire to play in college, or have the grades and test scores to be accepted into a college. So the reality is for the one college roster spot that boy’s basketball player is seeking, he’ll be competing with 5 other kids from somewhere else in the world. He’ll have about a 17% chance to play. Depending on the sport, that percentage could be as high as 25% chance. So what will give your child the competitive advantage to be one of those roughly 20% of kids who want to play in college AND actually get to play AND get college funded?
A child must be competing at the highest level possible and sometimes that’s not at the high school. Every sport has outside of the high school programs where the student-athlete can compete. Football has camps, combines, 7 on 7, etc, where elite athletes compete with each other. Girls and boys basketball have “AAU”, basketball camps, like NCSA partner 5-star, etc. Soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse, volleyball, field hockey, ice hockey, water polo have elite club or travel teams. Golf, tennis, swimming, track and field, cross country, and wrestling have elite tournaments or competitions that student-athletes earn their way to compete in. Some student-athletes don’t play their sport at their high school because of a variety of reasons. Some parents are shocked to learn that these kids who don’t play at their high school are getting recruited and, in some cases, getting drafted by professional sports teams. All of these club, travel, and camp activities that are outside of the high school cost money. So let’s get rid of the myth that you, the parent, don’t have to spend any money to get your child recruited. Even the most elite athletes have personal trainers to give them an edge over the other elite athletes they are competing with. So what should your budget be to get your child recruited? What is the best way to invest your money?