Unrecruited Athlete: Parent’s Role in the High School to College Recruiting Process

Unrecruited Athlete: Parent's Role in the High School to College Recruiting Process

Parents play an ultimate role in a young athlete’s dreams of becoming a collegiate athlete and in the success (and sometimes failure) of those dreams. From hockey practice to tournament weekends to academic coaching … parents play a primary role from the start.

But as athletes mature and grow into increasingly competitive spaces, how parents engage with their collegiate hopeful’s dreams (and their teams) becomes unchartered territory.

So, how should parents best support their athletes during the collegiate recruitment process?

The Parent’s Role in the Recruitment Process

Parents serve as the cornerstone of an athlete’s journey into collegiate sports, playing a multifaceted role through emotional, financial, and logistical support from day one. A parent’s role changes over time but is nevertheless crucial to either helping or hurting potential outcomes.

While we watch athletes step up to the plate with the discipline it takes to become an athlete, maintain their grades, and facilitate professional relationships with coaches, parents will always play an active guiding role in shaping their athletes’ overall success:

Parents are instrumental in helping to line up the next steps with research, program exploration, and training programs that will elevate athletic talents.

Parents also play a crucial role in understanding financial support, whether direct funding is available, scholarship opportunities, and having open, realistic discussions about the cost of tuition.

Finally, parents can help to act as facilitators in the communication between their athletes and college coaches, ensuring that contact is timely, professional, within the designated NCAA contact zones, and, above all, respectful.

Parents: Set a Good Example

It shouldn’t have to be said, but (unsurprisingly) parents’ attitudes, communication style, and involvement can significantly affect a coach’s impression of the athlete and their recruitment prospects. Coaches appreciate positive, supportive parents who encourage positive self and team talk, ask thoughtful questions, and maintain emotionally regulated support at all times.

Overly aggressive or confrontational ‘helicopter parenting’ can deter coaches, so parents should go above and beyond to exemplify good behavior and a good temperament. Empowering athletes to take the lead in contacting coaches should be encouraged as coaches value independent athletes, which can ultimately positively impact the recruitment process.

Parents: Support Coaches and Recruiters

Playing a supporting role comes twofold for parents, as they need to support their child athlete, but also need to support what the coaches, trainers, and team are trying to accomplish as a whole.

Supporting coaches can take a few approaches:

  1. Initiate Contact: Encourage your athlete to send introductory emails to coaches, expressing interest and providing essential information early on.
  2. Maintain Professionalism: Remind your athlete to maintain professionalism in all communications, showcasing their commitment and utmost respect.
  3. Encourage Independence: Empower your athlete to take the lead in communicating with coaches. Coaches appreciate the initiative.
  4. Keep Records: Keep records of all interactions, including emails, phone calls, and visits, to keep communication clear, direct, and not overwhelming.

Parents: Let Your Athlete Lead the Way

To successfully make it through collegiate recruitment, students need to invest in the recruitment process and should be highly motivated and coachable. This means treating practices, meetings, and competitions with respect, attentiveness, and a growth mindset, setting the tone for the team, and having a positive influence from day one.

Athletes should take the lead in building strong relationships with coaches, showing initiative in scheduling visits and maintaining open communication, showing discipline in practice, and balancing academics. Collegiate athletes need a lot of self-motivation and time management to be successful overall, and coaches want to see those qualities early on.

Five Tips for Parents During Collegiate Recruitment

Going through the recruiting process side-by-side with your child can be a journey. Here are five invaluable tips to ensure you’re providing the right kind of support during the process:

1. Encourage an Early Start: 
Start the process early. Encourage your athlete to invest time in skill development, academic excellence, and researching potential colleges early in their high school career. An early start provides more opportunities and time for your athlete to connect with coaches, participate in extra training, and get noticed.

2. Be Actively Engaged: 
Actively support your student-athlete. Be their advocate, assist in scheduling campus visits, and encourage ongoing communication with coaches. Your engagement can significantly impact your athlete’s overall experience and recruitment prospects.

3. Take Lots of Videos:
Capture as many game videos and highlights as possible so that your athlete has access to content that will make an impressive athlete profile and highlight reel that will showcase the best of the best plays.

4. Educate Yourself: 
Understand the recruitment process, NCAA rules, and academic eligibility requirements (which can vary between divisions and schools). This knowledge equips you to guide your athlete effectively and mitigate common pitfalls or last-minute requests.

5. Stay Positive: 
Recruitment can be filled with ups and downs. Maintain a positive attitude, keep the focus on personal and athletic growth, and encourage your athlete from start to finish. Emphasize professionalism in all communication and connections and explore financial aid options early so you can ensure a well-rounded approach with all the right details.

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed and aren’t sure how to best support your athletes, give StellaPop Sports Management a call and let US support you BOTH!

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