Steps to avoid being stressed out by the athletic recruiting process

It always seems that when Signing Day nears, the stress levels for entire families continue to rise.  Making that final decision is never going to be easy regardless of the situation.  But there are some ways that we will talk about that can help with reducing your overall stress level and making things easier for your entire family.

Again, these steps are not going to be a magical list that makes the athletic recruiting process a breeze.  What these will do is help you get things in line and ready so that when coaches come calling and visiting, you won’t be scrambling and struggling to get your information in line.

The first step, by far, is start everything early.  The later that you wait, the tougher and more stressful it is going to be on you.   The turnaround is needed because coaches are asking for the recruiting tape and now the family is stressed because they need to get it done.

Like I have said before in other articles, if you are seriously considering playing college athletics (especially football), then you need to get a highlight video produced shortly after your junior season.  And if you are smart enough to work ahead, you should use time during the football season to contact highlight video companies and find one that you trust and feel good about.  The hope will be that this company comes through and allows you to get things done early.

The same is said about getting information out to coaches.  You would be amazed how many athletes continue to think they are better off waiting until the season comes around and then the real recruiting will start.  It is vital that you market yourself to college coaches and the earlier you have varsity experience, the better it is to do that.

After you have everything done early, the next thing you need to do is keep track of all the recruiting attention.  You can use an excel file, a manila envelope, or anything that works for your family (and especially your son/daughter who will hopefully be fielding the calls).  You want to keep information about letters, calls, what was discussed, visits, and anything else that may be important.  The more information, the better down the road when making a final decision needs to be made.

Time may be tight but it is very important that you continue to reevaluate where you sit with the recruiting process.  This may get a little old but you need to have a good feel of where you sit with colleges.  You may have gotten two letters from your dream school but realistically, you need to be realistic and continually reevaluate where you sit with the programs that are after you.  You can use your recruiting attention log and figure out which schools are contacting you the most.

This evaluation process of the schools should be done as a family because it gives a great opportunity for parents to figure out where your children want in a future college.  And parents, realize that the answers you get from your child are likely going to change by the month, week, and potentially day.

You also should make adjustments based on this overall evaluation.  For example, say that you contacted all of the Division I-A coaches in your state and the surrounding state.  I wouldn’t recommend this but it was something you did so that you could play at the highest level possible.  In that contact, you included a link your website and highlight video.  A number of coaches contacted you back at the time but few have been in contact since.

When this happens, you need to start being realistic and setting your sights a little lower.  It may be a tough pill to swallow, even if State University is your dream school, but broaden your search to programs that fit you academically that may be at the Division I-AA/FCS, Division II, and Division III levels.  In the end, you want to have a lot of options on the plate to be able to choose from.  You can eliminate schools late in the process but the more options you have, the better for you in the long run.

Time may be tight but it is very important that you continue to reevaluate where you sit with the recruiting process.  This may get a little old but you need to have a good feel of where you sit with colleges.  You may have gotten two letters from your dream school but realistically, you need to be realistic and continually reevaluate where you sit with the programs that are after you.  You can use your recruiting attention log and figure out which schools are contacting you the most.

This evaluation process of the schools should be done as a family because it gives a great opportunity for parents to figure out where your children want in a future college.  And parents, realize that the answers you get from your child are likely going to change by the month, week, and potentially day.

You also should make adjustments based on this overall evaluation.  For example, say that you contacted all of the Division I-A coaches in your state and the surrounding state.  I wouldn’t recommend this but it was something you did so that you could play at the highest level possible.  In that contact, you included a link your website and highlight video.  A number of coaches contacted you back at the time but few have been in contact since.

When this happens, you need to start being realistic and setting your sights a little lower.  It may be a tough pill to swallow, even if State University is your dream school, but broaden your search to programs that fit you academically that may be at the Division I-AA/FCS, Division II, and Division III levels.  In the end, you want to have a lot of options on the plate to be able to choose from.  You can eliminate schools late in the process but the more options you have, the better for you in the long run.

Even if you decided to waste spend the money on a recruiting service or someone that you are paying to help you with recruiting, realize that the person(s) who will care most about the situation is you and your family.  This person/company you are paying is doing it in order to put a roof over their head.  It is the same when it comes to investing your money.  Realize that it is your money (or your recruiting future) and the person who will dedicate the most time/energy is you.

If that company doesn’t get you a scholarship, they are not going to be fitting the bill for a college tuition.  Regardless of what you decide, realize that you always need to keep learning in recruiting.  It just kills me when parents will complain about how great their son is and wonder where their scholarships are but won’t want to learn about recruiting because their “guy” is handling it for them.  That is a huge mistake that you must avoid at all costs.

One great thing about learning the process together as a family from a site like this (and a few others if you look hard enough) is that it will be a bonding experience.  Most teenagers don’t like to talk but if they want a college scholarship, then it will open up some lines of communication that should help with more than just recruiting.  This may be cheesy but it definitely can be a bonding experience that the athlete should be thankful for (and hopefully will realize that as they get older).

The last thing is to be realistic.  The more you try fooling yourself about the attention that you are getting and who is really recruiting you, the harder it is going to be to face facts and realize that you may just be a Division III athlete.  And for the record, there is nothing wrong with that at all.

I know of athletes, which I will talk about more in a future article, who didn’t start for the football team as a junior that plays in one of the smaller states of the country.  His team was good but not great.  In this state, if you are talented enough, regardless of who is in front of you, chances are that they may change your position and try to get you on the field.

Because this athlete has marketed himself (to the wrong schools I might add) and paid big money to go to all these combines, he is getting letters from some of the top programs across the country.  The issue is that when Signing Day nears for him, there is no possible way that these schools will still be in the picture.  The family continues to fool themselves and think that this is serious attention in the recruiting process.

If you had dreams of playing at the highest level, it really is tough to be realistic.  I have seen many athletes not get offers from big time schools so instead of getting your education paid for, they decided to give up their sport of choice.  While there is nothing wrong with that, having your education paid for is a luxury that most families cannot pass up.  So be realistic and know that even if the big boys are sending you letters, that doesn’t mean a damn thing until you get a scholarship offer.

The reason that this can be disappointing is because you may be stressing over if Florida offered a kid at your position.  Well, if the Gators are not really recruiting you, then chances are that offers doesn’t mean anything.  Following these steps will help alleviate a lot of the stresses that I see during the athletic recruiting process.

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