Athletic Recruiting Recruiting for Parents

The Parents Role In Recruiting: What is a Lawnmower Parent?

parents role in recruiting
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(Flickr – Andrew Butitta)

We’ve all heard of — and dread being near (or being called one!) — helicopter parents.

We’ve even written some articles on this blog about the impact helicopter parents might be having on youth athletics.

According to a recent article on Inquisitr, lawnmower parents don’t just “swoop in” to help their child — they preemptively “mow down any and all possible obstacles, perceived or realistic, in their child’s way.”

“During teenage years, lawnmower parents can reach a level of control that is very stifling for their teen,” Jenny Atkinson, an education transition specialist, told Inquisitr. “Needless to say, teenagers can and eventually do become resentful about being so micromanaged. They become rebellious and constantly try to ‘do it their own way’.”

This actually isn’t the only article to talk about “lawnmower parents”.

So what should parents do? Shouldn’t there be some support – some help – that parents give their student-athletes?

What role can parents play in the recruiting process? Can a parent be too overbearing?

As Bob Chmiel, an NCSA educational speaker and former football coach at Notre Dame, says, college coaches stay away from “we” dads.

“You always know who the ‘we dads’ are because they start every sentence with the word we. ‘We are applying to Georgetown. We had a great season.”

College coaches don’t want to be distracted by overbearing parents, so a parent who seems too controlling — even if it’s just that they seem controlling — might actually hurt an otherwise-qualified student-athlete’s ability to be recruited.

Coach Sue Enquist recently spoke about a similar situation in her post on the microbehaviors coaches observe during the official visit.

How can a parent take a supportive role in the recruiting process?

It’s always a balancing act, isn’t it? On the one hand, we all know that parents are the most important support, mentor and guide in a young athlete’s life. You’ve been there for them every step of the way.

And sometimes young student-athletes might need that guidance to set their priorities and take the right steps toward playing their sport in college. That’s why we emphasize that student-athletes talk to their parents about their interest in playing at the next level through every stage of the recruiting process.

But that support sometimes has to take a backseat: to let a student-athlete sometimes fall, so she can pick herself up again. To let a student-athlete fail, so he knows how to be a gracious loser and take the field again. To let young student-athletes work toward their own dreams, and become the next generation to encourage young athletes to discover the transformative power of sports.

What do you think? Do these parents sound worse than “traditional” helicopter parents? Tell us what you think on Facebook and on Twitter.


If you’re a parent who wants to help their student-athlete discover how to get the support they need in the recruiting process, you’re absolutely right to help them start a recruiting profile.

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About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.