Friday, October 22, 2010

Tip of the Day #10

Understand that athletic scholarships are renewable one-year contracts, not four-year contracts. The rules about when a coach can choose not to renew a scholarship are pretty clear, and the good news is that they can't take away your scholarship because they're disappointed in the way you're playing. But they can revoke your scholarship if you're not meeting academic standards or if you get caught violating a school or athletic program rule. And even though they can't revoke your scholarship without just cause, they can strongly encourage you to leave by never playing you and generally making your life miserable. So keep your nose clean and your attitude positive.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tip of the Day #9

Athletic scholarships require you to be an active member of a team but merit scholarships do not, so think your decision through carefully if you have separate offers of both.

It's the rare athlete who is in this fortunate position but if you're one of them, consider your options very carefully. Everyone who goes through college recruiting hopes to be able to brag about the athletic scholarship offers they receive but there is a downside. There are a million reasons college athletes decide to give up their sport in college. What if you decide you just don't want to compete anymore, if you get seriously injured, if you're not getting the playing time you thought you would, if you hate the coach, if there are just other things you want to concentrate on more. Quit the team, lose your scholarship. It's that simple. There are lots of unhappy and unmotivated juniors and seniors who don't want to compete anymore but can't quit their teams because they would lose their scholarships.

If you have an offer of a merit scholarship, and you decide to leave the team for some reason, you keep the scholarship and finish your education on your own time. Pretty attractive deal if you can get it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tip of the Day #8

Be realistic about your skills.
Maybe you're as good as you think you are, maybe you're not. It's so important to get an accurate assessment of your skills from objective outside sources in preparation for college recruiting, and I list several ways to do that in Put Me In, Coach. If you're willing to believe what objective sources are telling you and you aim yourself accordingly, you will generate more college recruiting interest and options than if you stubbornly reach for too high a level. The right level is challenging enough to stretch you, but manageable enough that you'll see playing time. If you reach too high, you may end up with nothing, or you may walk on to find yourself in a permanent practice squad situation. If you've gone through a year of college basketball recruiting or college football recruiting only to end up as a practice player, you probably won't be very happy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tip of the Day #7

Here is one good way to use your parents in college recruiting: have them help you develop a good resume and cover letter. You may be sending these out to college coaches and you may be posting them on a college recruiting website. Either way, it's good to have an adult pair of eyes look them over and give them a final thumbs up. Most parents have had to write resumes and cover letters at some point in their lives so they're pretty experienced at it. And it's a pretty straightforward task that you won't fight or disagree over.

Suppose you're pursuing college basketball recruiting or college football recruiting. Once you have some videotape footage that you can post on a recruiting website or YouTube, you're ready to contact college coaches with your resume (keep it to 1 page), and cover letter. Your letter has to be personal and can't look like a form letter that you sent to 100 coaches. Talk about why you like this coach's program, why you're a good fit, and how you would add value. Direct them to wherever you've posted your college basketball recruiting or college football recruiting videotape. And as long as you've aimed yourself at the right level of program, good things should happen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tip of the Day #6

Use the athletic page on college websites to get the backgrounds of players on the roster and compare yourself to see if you'd fit.

Pick a typical D I, D II, and D III program. Go to your specific sport on the school's athletic page. Look at the players' size, weight, and speed. Suppose you're interested in college basketball recruiting. If you're 6'3" and playing a forward in high school, you'll probably find that forwards in college are at least 6'5" at the D III level and closer to 6'8" at the D I level. You may be too small for the level you want to play at, or you may need to consider switching positions to make it happen. Same is true for college football recruiting. 6'1" and 190 isn't going to work when the typical player at your position is 6'3" and 245.

Check times if you're in a timed sport like swimming or track. That's a pretty straight empirical measure that's hard for a coach responsible for college recruiting to argue with.

Read the bios of current college athletes to see what kinds of awards they got in high school. They will all be impressive and it will give you a good comparison point for where you fit in.

You can also get a good feel for whether they recruit locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally. And you can tell if they're recruiting primarily from public, private, or religious high schools, or if they get a fair number of recruits from junior colleges.

Do your research. It's all right there on the web and it's free.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tip of the Day # 5

Ask the coach the following question: "How often do you play freshmen, and what are my chances of playing as a freshman?"

Most kids want to know if they're likely to play as freshman. Any astute coach will tell you that playing time depends on performance, attitude, and other "you" things that they won't know until they see you in action, outside of the recruiting environment. This is an easy (and fair) way to deflect the question. But if you ask a college coach how often they have played freshmen in the past five years, they can't hide their record, and history will speak for itself. With this question, you'll get a very good idea of how likely any given freshman is to get playing time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tip of the Day #4

Prepare and practice what you want to say when coaches call.

That first college recruiting phone call is pretty momentous and hopefully, there will be more after that. To make the best impression on a coach who may be recruiting you, you should be prepared for this call. Think through what you want to tell them about yourself, why you're interested in their program, how you can add value to it, and what questions you have. When they actually get you on the phone, you may be nervous and it will be hard to come up with all of this on the fly. This is especially true if it's a coach from a school you're really fired up about. Write it down and keep it close.

Another thing you may want to consider is role playing the conversation with a friend or parent ahead of time. This will give you practice and help build your confidence.