I get it, telling your child not to do something is difficult. The resistance, the whining, the buts, the someone else is doing it, the list goes on. However, if you don’t nip your child’s negative habits by the bud early on, those same habits can develop into what college coaches consider ‘red flags.’
As coaches afford themselves the opportunity to get pickier in their personal recruiting process, there are specific red flags these coaches look for. Players with too many flags will get a pencil running through their name in the recruiting book, crossing it out. Through our experience we’ve crafted ten to ‘not dos’ that are worth sharing to parents out there with children going through the recruiting process. Let’s kick it off with number one: don’t pick a school just because they are recruiting you.
- Don’t only pick a school b/c they are recruiting your kid. Getting interest from college coaches can be a great experience. You get incredible insight about some amazing schools, you learn things you would never get on a guided tour, and you build some great relationships along the way. That said, don’t think you have to make your decision from the pool of schools recruiting your child. Just because a school is recruiting you, doesn’t mean that school will be the right fit for your kid. Unfortunately, lots of recruits rush to make a decision in their process because they think a decision to attend the school’s recruiting them must be made in a specific period of time. Take a step back, evaluate all the schools out there, see what child wants to get our of their education, and most importantly, get to know your child.
- Don’t be someone you’re not. Make sure your child is being themselves, not someone they are not. Know what your child wants out of college, what their strengths are, what level they want to play at, and then take the time to target the schools who best fit them on and off the field. Don’t rely on coaches over-selling your child’s abilities. If you do this, you can run the risk of your son/daughter playing at a level that’s too high for them or your child ending up at a school that’s not a good overall fit.
- Don’t think what’s happening with your son/daughter’s teammates recruiting process will happen to your own child. While it’s best to stay in your lane during the recruiting process, hearing about what your kid’s friends are up to is inevitable. As you trade stories and learn more about what’s going on around your children, it’s important to maintain a sense that every recruits process is different. What happened to him or her, won’t necessarily happen to your kid.
- Don’t think your child is being recruited by a school just because they got contacted by that school. Contact can come in many forms. Let’s focus on contact in the form of an email for conversation purposes. Recruits can get contacted via email in a variety of ways. Some of which include: auto-response from a school with some sort of details/information, email blast from a school about an upcoming event, or a personalized email. Be sure to decipher the type of email contact your child is getting. A personalized email doesn’t just include your kid’s name, it should include something specific about where/when a coach saw them play, what they thought about their game, mention a mutual connection, etc. Just because your child’s name is at the top of the email, doesn’t equate to “they are recruiting my child.” If an athlete wants to really know if they are getting recruited, they can simply ask the school their interest level, have a coach reach out on their behalf, or try setting-up further correspondence (physical visit, zoom, or phone call) to learn more.
- Don’t think you have to attend every recruiting event on the calendar. Over-exposure is a real thing. If your son or daughter is playing in events to the point of physical/mental exhaustion, than they aren’t going to deliver their best performance amongst their peers and in front of coaches recruiting them. This is a marathon, not a sprint. In lacrosse, unlike a sport like basketball, there are many windows that you can get recruited at physical events. Evaluate the calendar, pick some events that work, and don’t have a fear of missing out; you don’t need to attend everything known to man.
- Don’t think you have to play at a college to visit a college. Sometimes lacrosse recruits think the only way to visit a college is by attending a schools prospect day or a showcase at a school. It’s okay to put your regular student hat on and attend schools that are of interest to you. In fact, some of the best college visits can come when families or a parent and their recruit hit the road, cover ground, and visit a few schools over the course of one or a few days.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Meaning, don’t think because your child wants to play lacrosse in college, they should drop all other physical activities to pursue the sport. The quicker you do this, the quicker they become less competitive, less athletic, and less excited about playing the sport they want to pursue in college.
- Don’t stop learning about the game and developing at the game. I’m not even referring to athletes who commit to college, I’m talking about players in their sophomore and junior years who think they’ve played, trained, and competed enough to be “college ready.” Those who stop developing prior to stepping onto college campus are significantly less likely to play early in their college careers. Don’t stop getting better, and set yourself up to play in college early.
- Don’t get caught up in the Divisions. D1, but I really wanna play D1. What does that really mean?! The college experience can be contributed to so many factors. To think your experience is directly linked to playing for a college in a specific Division would mean you aren’t looking at the big picture. Don’t just learn about Divisions, learn about all the different conferences, schools, and all the nuances that go into making each and every one of those schools unique.
- Don’t make it all about yourself. Getting recruited can cause some recruits to think everything revolves around them. The attention, and notoriety can get to their heads. This can lead to arrogance, negativity, and poor body language on the field. Take the failures and successes as they come, but always approach the recruiting process with humility, grit, determination, positivity, and enthusiasm. This will make it fun and memorable, as opposed to miserable.In the wise words of author Rory Vaden, “No matter who you are, no matter who you were yesterday, for all of us, success is never owned, it is only rented, and the rent is due every day.”