We’ve already established that parents play an important role in the recruiting process, but you aren’t the only source of support that athletes can rely on. Teachers, guidance counselors and high school/club coaches are all valuable recruiting resources. As a parent, help your athlete cultivate a positive relationship with these resources to strengthen their recruiting team. How do you do that? It all starts with letting your athlete’s coaches know that they are interested in competing at the college level and then maintaining a line of open communication throughout the entire process.
Throughout the recruiting process, the athletes—not their parents—should be contacting college coaches. Coach Taylor White, an NCSA recruiting expert who has coached baseball at the D1 level, explains, “I’m not recruiting the parent—I’m recruiting the student-athlete. The second I feel the parent is overstepping their bounds, I start to raise a red flag, especially early on.” He adds that, especially at the beginning of the recruiting process, it is crucial for coaches to get to know the student-athlete.
Emails, phone calls, texts, DMs, etc. should all come from the athlete. Not only will it help the coach get a better understanding of who the recruit is as a person, but it will show the coach that the athlete is responsible enough to manage their own recruiting process.
If an athlete just doesn’t know what to say or is extremely shy, parents can communicate with coaches through their student-athlete. Parents can tell their athlete the questions they want answered, and have the athlete send them—in their own words—to the college coach. That way, the coach will see that the athlete is engaged in the process, and parents will get their questions answered.
Parents can also role play phone calls with their student-athlete to help them prepare to talk on the phone with college coaches. Practicing and preparation make the process much easier. If an athlete really won’t contact college coaches, it is better for the parents to reach out than for no outreach to happen, but if possible, communication should come from the athlete.
Coach Taylor does point out a few times when parents can step in and contact college coaches. At the end of the recruiting process, when the conversation turns to financials and logistics, coaches usually expect parents to be highly involved in the conversation. During an official or unofficial visit, parents should ask their questions related to academic or logistical concerns. Coach Taylor recommends that parents take this opportunity to address their questions related to classes, dorm rooms, housing, meals, workout programs, study halls, tutors, etc.
Once their athlete has received an offer, parents can start asking financial aid questions. Coach Taylor suggests waiting until a contract has been communicated to the student-athlete and the coach has expressed an offer before parents start financial aid conversations.
Teachers and guidance counselors
College coaches want a well-rounded athlete, which means your child needs to be both a strong athlete and a high performing student. Establishing a strong relationship with your child’s teachers and guidance counselor can help keep them on track academically. The NCAA Eligibility Center requires every college-athlete to complete 16 core courses before they graduate high school. Your child’s guidance counselor can help your family build an appropriate course schedule to meet these course requirements. Additionally, their counselor is responsible for submitting a final transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center at the end of their senior year.
High school/club coaches
Not only is your student-athlete’s high school/club coach responsible for helping them develop athletically, they can also play a significant role in their recruiting. Once your student-athlete has determined they want to compete at the college level, they should notify their coach right away. Most high school/club coaches have developed strong relationships with college coaches over their years of coaching, which allows them to connect their athletes with college opportunities.
Because the NCAA rules restrict college coaches from contacting student-athletes until their junior year, coaches may reach out to a recruit’s current coach first to express interest in an athlete and learn more about them. Even more, your athlete’s current coach can provide recommendations about your child’s work ethic and character. This information is invaluable for college coaches as it helps them decide which prospects to pursue.
Building good relationships with your student-athlete’s coaches and high school staff will help your family move forward in the recruiting process. It’s always best to be up front and honest with their coach about your athlete’s options, and we recommend setting meetings earlier than later, so everyone is on the same page.
Insider tip: Your high school/club coach can use resources like NCSA Team Edition to help their athletes get recruited. Coaches can use NCSA Team Edition to track their athlete’s recruiting process and support them along the way. Learn more here.
A strong coach-athlete relationship is important for both your athlete’s development, as well as their recruiting. Unfortunately, conflict is possible in even the best relationships, and how you handle that conflict will impact your athlete’s future. If a high school/club coach has done something that rubbed you or your athlete the wrong way, it’s important to address the issue properly.
Before approaching a coach, give them at least 24-hour’s notice that you would like to meet. Let them know that you have some concerns and would like to schedule time to meet in-person to discuss. Keep in mind that this meeting needs to be productive. The goal isn’t simply to let the coach know you are frustrated. Instead, this meeting is about understanding the situation better and collectively finding a solution that benefits the whole team.
Keep in mind that, even when frustrated, your child’s coach deserves your respect. Let them know that you appreciate the time and effort they put into coaching your athlete and speak to them the way you would want someone to speak to you.
For parents and players alike there’s nothing more frustrating than going from one game to the next seeing little to no playing time. But it’s important to keep in mind that high school/club coaches are faced with balancing the expectations of playing time while managing a team and winning games. Below are a few tips parents can use to help your athlete handle playing time issues.
Create a compelling highlight video
The truth is, attending competitions in person is time-consuming and expensive for many college programs. This is why college coaches rely on highlight video to assess recruits. Focus on capturing as much competition footage as you can to create a strong, 3-4 minute highlight video that showcases your athlete’s best skillset. Tips for creating a highlight video.
Build a strong online presence
The most valuable recruiting tool any athlete can have is an online recruiting profile. College coaches heavily rely on digital recruiting to discover talent. So, regardless of how much playing time your athlete gets, they can maximize their exposure to college coaches by building and maintaining a strong online presence with an NCSA Recruiting Profile.
Use the preseason to set the right expectations
Many coaches will clearly establish their coaching philosophy and policies with parents during a preseason meeting. If your child’s coach doesn’t address the topic, set a meeting with them before the season starts to discuss what to expect during the season and what’s expected of every player who wants to play.
Let your player do the talking first
If your child wants to see more playing time, encourage them to take initiative and have a one-on-one conversation with their coach. Remind your athlete to keep the conversation positive and simply ask their coach what they can do to improve. They should walk away from the meeting with a plan in place with measurable goals. If your child is still not seeing more playing time after having a conversation with the coach and making the necessary improvements, then it’s appropriate for you to have a conversation with the coach to get more clarity on the situation.
When favorites are played, just focus on your game
For some coaches, the game is all about winning. These coaches tend to focus on the development of their best players and prioritize their time competing. The truth is there are some things in life we can’t change or control. Athletes can’t afford to worry about things out of their control, including when their coach is playing favorites.
As former Miami Heat star, now Director of Basketball Analytics and Development for the NBA, once put it, “My job as a player was not to complain about playing time, but to play so well that the coach can’t sit me.” The best advice you can give your athlete is to focus on your game until it’s at a level where it can’t be ignored.
Help your athlete improve
High school and club coaches expect a certain level of athleticism and performance, which might not have been expected of your athlete in their earlier years. This shift can be a tough transition to make and might result in your athlete receiving less playing time. For some players, this fires up their love for their sport and they double-down on their efforts to raise the caliber of their game, but others may lose their passion for the game and decide it’s not worth the time and effort to continue playing. Regardless of what decision your athlete makes, let them know you will support them either way.
Teach your athlete to be coachable
Maybe your athlete is losing playing time because they aren’t receptive to feedback. Sometimes athletes need to be taught how to receive constructive criticism positively and apply it to their game. For tips on how to help your athlete become more coachable, check out our video.