Everyone involved with recruiting has a role. College coaches, club and high school coaches, parents and prospective student-athletes (PSAs) are all players in the game. The college coach's role is a simple one involving evaluation and communication. Club and high school coaches have it pretty simple too: teach, coach, communicate and prepare athletes for college. In this two-part series, we will discuss the more complex roles of parents and student-athletes.
Part 1: Parent's Role in Recruiting
Parents have a tough job just being parents. With recruiting, they add the role of "sports manager to" their résumés. With this comes many responsibilities, spanning the spectrum from "taking charge" to "letting go."
"Your child's success or lack of success in sports does not indicate what kind of parent you are. But having an athlete that is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient and tries their best is a direct reflection of your parenting."
Recruiting is an ebb and flow of information, activity and sometimes drama (good and bad.) Parents can help make the process positive by taking charge of the following activities:
- Giving the PSA the opportunity to play. Whether it is high school volleyball or club volleyball, find the best fit for the PSA.
- Staying abreast of what is going on academically. PSAs will be held to high standards for admissions and when they attend college. Start early in their academic careers with this message: make ure all NCAA requirements are met for core classes and test scores.
- Having open discussions about on-court demeanor, body language, taking criticism, playing time, reacting in tough situations and leadership. These are important things that college coaches look for when they evaluate PSAs.
- Filming the games/matches: getting film from the playing side and making it available for college coaches to watch. Film and play do not have to be perfect—but there needs to be play on film available.
- Support the coach and all teammates. Understand there will be tough times. Understand that volleyball is a team sport. Encourage the PSA to use "we" statements when good things happen and "me" statements when things don't go so well.
- Have open conversations about college. Ask questions, listen, give advice and persist if the answers are unclear. Topics can include: location, major, size, religious affiliation, coaching style and level of competition.
- Give opportunities to visit. Get a feel for small and large schools, private and public and rural and urban schools.
At the other end of the spectrum is letting go. This can be difficult, but it is vital to the process. When they attend college, PSAs will need to represent themselves, their university and their athletic programs. This can help and teach many valuable lessons.
Allow the PSA to do the following:
- Practice. Do not be a parent who hangs out at practice. If you are driving your athlete to the facility, bring work, a book or run errands. Let the coach do the coaching.
- Play. Cheer on the team and the PSA. The coach has been coaching the team and preparing them. Make sure your PSA is looking at only one bench—that of the coach.
- Converse with coaches about playing time. If the PSA is unhappy about it, he or she needs to talk about it. Only the coach and player know what work has gone in to the practices.
- Converse with college coaches. The college coach will be coaching the PSA—not the parent. Of course, parents are free to speak with coaches. If financial or logistical questions arise, they are expected to come from parents; however, allow PSAs to become comfortable having volleyball conversations and becoming acquainted with their future coach.
- Visit. Allow the college visit to be about the PSA, not the parent re-living his or her college years.
- Experience something new. Do not assume the PSA wants the same thing as the parent.
Finally, there is a middle ground to a parent's role in recruiting. Deadlines must be met and lessons learned. Parents can assist with the process.
- Proofread emails for the PSA. Copy and pasting is a great timesaver. Just make sure the correct program is sent the correct email. No coach likes to see an email proclaiming the PSA's interest, but addressed to one of his or her rivals. Short, to-the-point emails are key, along with good grammar and spelling.
- Role-play making calls. Be the coach on the other end of the line. Go through a mock script and help calm nerves before the call.
- Make sure questionnaires are filled out, calls are made and emails or texts are sent/returned in a timely manner. Just as much as the PSA wants a college coach to want him or her on the team, college coaches want to know the PSA wants to be on the team.
As information ebbs and flows, so too should the involvement of a parent. As the PSA gets more comfortable speaking with a particular coach or making phone calls in general, the parent can step back and allow the PSA to take charge of the recruiting process, while still conducting checks and balances here and there. Most college coaches recruit the PSA, but they want to know about the family too. Coaches are recruiting for their programs—otherwise known as their families. They want good people who will be around for a long time.
Find out if you have what it takes to play at the next level. Click on the link below to access the "BeastMeter App." It will score your last 12 months of athletic accomplishments and project your college playing level. Your recruiting starts with understanding where you are. Find out now!
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