Athletic scholarships don’t just happen, although it sure looked that way a few days ago on signing day. I want to dispel that myth, because believing it will assure that your kid is left out in the cold and you’re left holding an entire college bill.
So let’s talk about what it takes to being selected for an athletic scholarship. There is a road and your family needs to know the checkpoints along that road. If you do, and you act correctly, your kid will get signed to an athletic scholarship.
Consider it a long race. It’s one that you have to be willing to run, because getting an athletic scholarship is a process. It takes effort on your part as a family. Most families wait around and lose out. Don’t be one of those.
And don’t be scattered. That’s another mistake families make. The end result is frustration and no real progress. Confusion reigns.
The families I work with that are successful are ones that follow a step-by-step system. And it always includes the chronological checkpoints I will lay out for you in this post.
Checkpoint #1: Getting Noticed
Of course, the first thing that needs to happen is that your kid gets on coaches’ radars. It’s got to happen before anything else.
The big challenge is HOW. How can my kid get noticed? Unless your son or daughter is an elite athlete, in the top 1% in the state, it’s unlikely they will just get spotted. It requires effort on your part. Talent isn’t going to cut it alone.
My biggest message to parents and athletes is to take the initiative. Get off the dime. Make your kid known to college coaches at the schools at the top of your list. This is crucial and will provide the momentum you need to hit the next checkpoint.
Checkpoint #2: Getting Seen
Once your kid gets noticed, he or she needs to be seen by college coaches. They will want video or to see your kid in person. In any case, they will not recruit your unseen son or daughter. Sure, coaches will respond to the initiative you take, but interest will only grow when they see your kid compete.
It’s important to produce a quality video that clearly showcases your son or daughter’s talent. Once the coaches see the video, you’ll know whether your student-athlete might be a fit for certain programs. In fact, there will be a pattern that will give you an idea at what level your son or daughter can compete in college. That’s good, because you want to target schools and programs that are the best fit.
Get your video done.
Checkpoint #3: Getting Continued Interest
Once you’ve gotten to the second checkpoint, make it to the third water station in the marathon run. Your kid has gotten seen—now your job is to make sure the interest continues.
This is where it’s key that the relationships grow. Athletes, you’ve got to work at this. Just because a coach shows interest and sees you compete, it doesn’t mean this will last. If you stop communicating, coaches will lose interest in you. They want athletes that have a desire to compete in their program. Unless you are an elite athlete, coaches won’t chase you down. They’ll go after athletes of comparable talent who show interest in their program.
Parents, lead your kid in this area. Kids are short-sighted and need you to encourage them to take a longer look and see the big picture. Don’t let them cut off relationships until you are close to making your school choice (together) and you’re eliminating programs. However, do not do this until your kid is close to signing.
Checkpoint #4: Getting ranked
Coaches rate the athletes they recruit. They rack them and stack them according to a number of factors: talent, athletics, character, etc. You want to do your best to work your way up the coaches’ lists. I know this sounds business-like, but the fact is, it is.
Don’t be afraid to ask coaches where you stack up against other recruits he or she is pursuing. If you ask this question, be prepared for an honest answer. It might hurt. But you have to remember that you’re seeking to compete in the right program at the right school—the best fit.
Parent, you’re going to need to be a solid encourager for your son or daughter. They might not like what they hear. You might not, either. However, the information you get from coaches helps in determining where your son or daughter’s talent level compares to other recruits. It’s great information.
Once you know you’re ranking high, you can focus on those schools the most.
Checkpoint #5: Getting offers
This finish line is in sight when you get to this point, but you have to hit the first four checkpoints to get to this one.
It’s a great day when offers start to come in. Or, should I say, several days. You won’t get them in all at once, so be sure you’re taking time to weigh and evaluate the offers. Don’t be enamored by the first offer. You’re not going to be able to wait too long, but take time to discuss the options.
Not all offers will come in writing at first. You (as a family) will be in discussion with coaches along the way, and you’ll have a good idea what each is likely to offer before the written offer comes. That’s good, because you want to have as much information as you can.
You don’t want an explosion of written offers without having an idea what they may be in advance. Have good dialogue with coaches. This is where it is important for the parent and athlete to talk with the coaches together. Coaches expect that.
You’re running a marathon and each of these checkpoints, in the order I’ve given them, is necessary. Consider them your water stops as you run the race.
Have patience, be thorough, dialogue often with coaches, and stay focused. You’re going to be tired, so take breaks to get refreshed. And be sure to take the water at each station.