TIP OF THE WEEK- JUNE 6
Q?: How much of an advantage do in-state athletes have over out-of-state or International players for scholarships?
A: Every coaching staff will say that they put priority on keeping the best in-state players at home. But when making scholarship decisions, it’s irrelevant to coaches where you are from. They are looking to sign the best players that they can, period!
Being in-state does help you get your foot in the door. Most schools make it a priority to keep “the best players in the state at home,” making sure each of the assistant coaches play a role in identifying ALL potential recruits in the state and building relationships with prep coaches and programs at home. Each assistant is often assigned a handful of counties to become an expert in within the state, so you probably have a better chance to get someone to watch your unsolicited film.
In most cases, college coaches still put a lot of attention to in-state high schools even if they currently have no prospects. They will spend time talking to prep coaches and their players who may not make the cut athletically as a goodwill gesture for the program. They are building long-term relationships for the future so that once the school has a great player they will already have close relationships with the coaching staff. They’re never just building for that season, they’re building for the future.
Being an in-state player can help you get a quick evaluation but won’t usually effect scholarship decisions. Certain states it will determine and affect an offer. California State school costs nearly double for out of state students. It also depends upon how schools view scholarship dollars. Some view it as a total number, others view it as a total pot of money. It is important you understand how each university works and views these offers.
TIP OF THE WEEK- May 26
Q: At what point do injures become a factor in recruiting?
A: One of the toughest adversities all athletes face are injuries, particularly season or career-ending injuries. From my experiences, they are much tougher mentally on most players than physically.
From a recruiting standpoint, not all season-ending injuries will affect your potential to earn a scholarship. From my experiences, college coaches will often stick by injured players and continue to recruit and evaluate them, possibly even offer them. If you already have scholarship offers, an injury doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be pulled.
Some players may repeatedly face the same injuries – ACL tears, meniscus tears, chronic back or neck pain. Not only is it frustrating to face one ACL tear, but I’ve worked with players who have faced them two or even three times. Yes, the road is tougher but not completely impossible. If it’s the same chronic issues are there different treatments that can be tried? Are you allowing yourself time to completely heal? Can weightroom work help strengthen that region to help cut down on injuries?
Yes, injuries have ended the careers of a handful of players I’ve worked with. And yes, at the high school level the road may be much tougher to get noticed, recruited and offered. You may have to start out at the Junior College level, as a walk-on or even as a regular student who tries to walk-on as s sophomore or junior after some time to heal, as long as you are able to stay working out and working on skill drills. It’s a long-shot, but I’ve seen it happen.
The toughest situation is for those players who are seniors and still working towards getting offers, if you find yourself in this situation you will just need to get more creative and more aggressive. The key to success in this situation is to remain mentally tough. You must keep your confidence, develop other aspects of your game, become a master of the playbook.
If you are an unsigned senior, you must continue to pound the pavement, work the phones, send your highlights and follow-up. You may have to go to prep school, Junior College or a much less competitive program.
You must find a way to OVERCOME. You must work towards this every day. You must stay positive! You may not start your college career where you dream of, you may not have several options to choose from but at the end of the day it’s about finding that one or few coaching staffs who believe in you and finding the best situation for you.
TIP OF THE WEEK- MAY 19
Q: Is it typical for a coach to offer you a scholarship, then later tell you they’ve offered that scholarship to 2 other players?
Yes, it does happen.
With recruiting beginning earlier and earlier, coaches are anxious to get their top prospects committed and finished with the recruiting process.
With each scholarship class coaches determine their position needs and allocate slots based on where they are lacking depth at each position. Once they determine their needs for each signing class, they rate their prospects at each position and work to sell their program to the players who they feel are the best fit.
In many cases, each scholarship slot will have 2-4 equally talented players that the staff would be happy to have… so their attention and efforts will be directed to those key players. As players begin committing to other schools, the priorities of the coaching staff shift to the next-best players available.
There will come a time when coaches may begin to pressure you to commit. If you are a top prospect, they may wait your decision out as long as they need to. If they feel they have other prospects who are equally talented, they may accept one of their commitments and tell you they are no longer recruiting your position.
Some coaches may be honest with you and communicate this possibility to you before it happens, others may not.
There is so much turnover in the coaching profession, and so many coaches changing schools each year, you also have the right to do what is best for you, especially before that NLI is signed. And truthfully, most coaches are understanding if you get a much better opportunity.
Your recruitment to a particular school can end at any time prior to signing your NLI (National Letter of Intent) with little or no warning or explanation. For this reason, if you know in your heart where you’d like to play, it’s best to go ahead and commit and focus entirely on your playing season and grades.
Verbal commitments are not binding, NLIs are. If you are verbally committed to a program but not signed, you have the right to change your mind. But don’t just commit to commit and continue looking around, focus instead on making an informed, smart decision. College coaches will generally not speak with you if you have made a verbal commitment. Their fear is getting labelled in their profession in a negative way.
If you are being pressured to commit (especially early as a Freshman or Sophomore) and haven’t really made up your mind—don’t commit. It’s better to take your time and feel confident and happy with your decision. If you feel confident in a time range with which you will commit, then communicate that clearly. For example, we are not planning on making a decision until middle of sophomore year.
TIP OF THE WEEK- May 5
How do I go about asking a coach to take a visit after they’ve seen me play & shown interest?
As coaches are evaluating prospects and prioritizing their recruits, they want you to do your research and be just as proactive and involved with the process as they are. While college coaches first must be interested in your athletic and academic abilities they love recruits who show a passion for their program.
If you have an offer or are a top prospect to a coach they will be inviting you to camps, unofficial visits, and games.
If you haven’t been offered yet but coaches are showing signs of interest, this means they are still doing their research on you, are waiting on commitments from a few players they may have ranked above you, are still determining needs for your recruiting class and/or doing their in-depth evaluations for players in your graduation year, especially if you are a junior or younger.
Both college coaches and prospects are trying to do their research, especially early in the process. Within all of the programs that I’ve worked with, a good portion of players we offered were players who came to us. Coaches may not always find you; you may need to be a little more aggressive to get the process going on your own. So if there are signs that there is some level of interest and coaches are communicating with you, it’s common for players to bring up unofficial visits on their own. It’s definitely worth your time, if financially possible, and if there is mutual interest.
Some examples of how to bring up taking a visit to campus:
“My parents and I want to come up for the day to check out campus.”
“I’d like to come up to a game this season.”
“I will be in town with my family and we’d like to stop by next week.”
If coaches have offered you or are extremely interested, they will bring up bringing you in on an Official Visit.
It’s better to bring up visiting the campus on an Unofficial Visit if a coach hasn’t brought up offering you an Official Visit. Schools have a limited number of Official Visits to give out, and financially, they are expensive so coaches will normally only invite recruits for Official Visits if they have offered them.
Making the effort to visit a school in person shows coaches that you are serious about the process and have some interest in their program. Coaches are evaluating and gauging interest – if you offer to visit and express interest in learning more about the program the coaches will be more willing to make a stronger decision of their level of interest in you, and where you rank among other players they have interest in and are recruiting.
TIP OF THE WEEK- April 28
Q: How do I ask for scholarship money without looking like I’m just in it for the money?
A: Realistically, for many players, money WILL be a major decision factor. Colleges vary greatly with the costs of tuition, room and board, course-related books, fees, along with transportation and extra expenses you may have such as cell phone bills, clothing, entertainment. It all adds up—and scholarship money makes a difference for most players.
There is nothing wrong with being direct and up-front with coaches because at the end of the day, money may be the final factor for most of you. “Am I being considered for a full ride? Am I being considered for a partial scholarship? What would a partial scholarship cover?”
There WILL come a time when you must sit down with your family and decide if it’s better for you to go where you can get most or all of your education paid for, or if you have the option of going to your dream school with the help of loans, family support or additional academic/leadership/merit scholarships.
There is a chance you may start out on a partial scholarship and later earn more scholarship aid year-to-year as your contributions to the team increase. On visits, ask other players how the coaching staff handles financial aid.
It’s best to have this conversation to help you get a better picture of your options, never feel bad for bringing it up. Coaches are evaluating their options in terms of players, it’s your right to evaluate options in terms of financial aid.
There are a lot of options, and a lot to think about…
- Some schools have high tuition costs and if they are only able to offer you a partial scholarship covering books – is that a realistic option for you?
- Would you rather go to a state school on a partial scholarship and graduate with much less debt than going to an expensive out-of-state private school?
- Are you able to secure other loans, pay out-of-pocket, qualify for academic or other scholarships in order to go to your dream school?
- Are you financially able to walk-on at your dream school with the goal of earning an athletic scholarship as a sophomore or junior?
In the long run you must look at what will be best for both the player and family as the costs of college continue to increase.
REMINDER- Next Webinar is scheduled For Wednesday May 7th at 7 pm MST !!! We will have a special guest coach there to help answer all your questions. We will reveal the coach in next week’s tip!
TIP OF THE WEEK- April 22
Q: When is the best time to contact NCAA coaches?
A: A few answers to this question…
Best time of day: Between 11am-2pm on their office phone. They may not be there the whole time, but most coaches will be in their office at some point during this window. While this is a general rule, one item I always advise our players on is to either email or text prior to the call. In this way coaches are able to adjust their schedules if possible. Persistence is the key and once you begin communicating, connecting with that coach will become easier.
Best time of year: In the off-season is probably best. During the season coaches are extremely busy with their current team and keeping up with players they are already recruiting. It’s still fine to send them your film and resume, but if you don’t get much feedback, try again a few weeks after the season when they have more time to focus on finding new great players. Also, during evaluation periods (check the NCAA recruiting calendars for your sport) they may be out of town for weeks at a time, so they may be tougher to reach during key evaluation periods. Many parents get worried in soccer specifically that during the fall they aren’t being recruited as heavy. While some recruiting does go on, from November to April and then again in May-Summer showcases are really the prime time coaching will be out scouting events. Events are tailored to some extent around the coaches calendar and dead periods. This allows for all parties to focus on the current season in the fall and then work into the recruiting and showcase event calendar.
TIP OF THE WEEK- April 14
Parents of Athletes
I'm a long time athlete, coach, and physical education teacher. Needless to say, I know a little something about sports.
One very important part of sports is the relationship between an athlete and parents. So on that note, I want to share two excellent statements from top notch coaches on this subject.
The first statement is from Coach Cael Sanderson. Coach Sanderson is a four time NCAA wrestling champion, an Olympic Wrestling Champion, and has coached his Penn State wrestling team to three consecutive D1 National Titles.
When asked what advice he gives parents to help their athletes succeed, this was a part of his response...
I tell them that the biggest mistake parents can make with their children in athletics (or anything for that matter) is to blur the lines between why they support and love them. It is very easy for kids to mistake why a parent is proud of them. Kids need to know that their parents love them just because they are their son or daughter.
To help kids reach their greatest potential, they need to know that their parents support their effort--not whether they win or lose. A lot of parents give their kids the impression that they are only proud of them if they win.
Parents are the most important people in the world to their kids.
If a kid thinks he has to win to make his parents proud of him--that is a ton of pressure. In my opinion, that is the greatest pressure in the world, especially for a kid. A parent not being proud of you is far more frightening then the scariest opponent. Most kids won't last long in sports in that kind of environment. And the kids who do tough it out, or have no choice, are usually the ones who develop mental problems. They are the ones who usually end up being labeled "head cases." The kids whose parents simply expect their best effort in training and in competition are the ones who have the better chance of reaching their potential.
That is incredible advice from one of the greatest coaches of all time. I agree 100% with Coach Sanderson's advice. Parents must let their athletes know that they love them for who they are and not how they perform. Young athletes can blur these two easily and feel they are only loved if they perform well and win.
This second statement is from long time Coach Bruce Brown. Coach Brown has coached at the middle school, high school, and college levels. He is the director of Proactive Sports and travels the country speaking to various groups about youth sports.
Bruce's core message is as follows...
If your kid’s goal (for playing sports) is different from your goal… then throw your goal away and adopt your child's. Sports are the safest place for your kid to take the inevitable risks that adolescents will seek out – so let them go and make their mistakes in sports!
Coach Brown and his associates have conducted numerous studies using athletes of all levels. One of the these studies asked the athlete "What do you want your parents to say to you after a game?"
The resounding answer given by the overwhelming majority of these athletes is very simple and incredibly profound. All that needs to be said after any youth sporting event or game is:
“I love watching you play; I love watching you be part of a team.”
That's it. Not discussion of the game, not advice, but simply "I love watching you play".
There it is in as concise of a blog post as I can write over such an elaborate topic. The two powerful statements above come from men who have been top notch athletes and coaches. They have years of wisdom and knowledge to share with the public.
My hope in writing this blog post is to help at least one parent (or many parents) as you watch your child compete in sports. Remember to let your child know that you love them no matter how they perform in their given sport. Also let them know that you love watching them play, no strings attached.
P.S. I'll add one personal story from my own athletic career. As a freshman in college I had been named the starter at my weight class. Two days later I was injured in practice and feeling devastated. I called my Dad and he said these words that changed my wrestling career... "Chad you don't have to wrestle. You can come back to Oklahoma and go to a school closer to home."
Hearing my Dad say that I didn't have to wrestle lifted a 1000 pound weight off my shoulders that I had been carrying for years. As a Hall of Fame coaches son I was expected to wrestle. I was good at it, but the pressure was tremendous and I felt I had to wrestle to make others proud of me. When my Dad told me that I had an option, something in my brain clicked. I thought to myself "I don't have to wrestle because anyone else wants me to wrestle. I can wrestle because I want to wrestle and my Dad loves me either way."
You see, he had always loved me, but I felt I needed to impress him by winning all the time. When I realized that didn't matter to him, then I became a better wrestler. I found the passion that I had as a youth and went on to become a College All-American!
TIP OF THE WEEK- April 7
Q: Do athletic recruiting agencies work? Are they worth the money?
A: No, not really. My advice: never pay a recruiting service to send your information to universities, especially larger Division I schools.
At competitive Division I programs, stacks of athlete resumes aren’t taken serious or even looked at in most cases. If you have to pay someone to send out your profile, you must not be that talented. True or not, that is the impression it gives off.
Put together your Student-Athlete Resume, your highlights and mail/email them off to the schools that interest you. You can find all the contact information that you need within a few clicks online. And, coaches like players who can show SOME initiative and do some of this work on their own.
I’ve worked at major DI schools and we rarely (if ever) added a player to our recruiting list based off these profiles. I’ve also worked at smaller DI schools and we did occasionally begin to recruit a player off these profiles, but all of those players would have gotten the same responses if they would have mailed/emailed their own letter, film and resume. Send it on your own and they will be more likely to read it!
These companies send stacks of profiles to schools, and many are overlooked. Those companies have no extra leverage that you don’t have yourself! Again, coaches love players who show initiative!
TIP OF THE WEEK- March 31
Q: Why is it so hard to get that first scholarship offer?
A: Even though you think scholarship offers just fall from the sky for every other player in your area, understand that coaches put a LOT of time into deciding to offer a player a scholarship. They’ve usually scouted you in personal multiple times and the head coach has also had the chance to be able to see you play in person as well. In most cases, multiple coaches from the staff have cross-referenced their evaluations of you. They may have discussed your abilities with your coach and coaches in the area at other schools or clubs. They’ve likely requested your transcript and had their academic advisors evaluate if you would be able to be admitted to the University and make it through the NCAA Eligibility Center.
The goal of each recruiting cycle for each coaching staff is to sign the best player possible to each scholarship. Many staffs don’t rush the process, they’d rather get it RIGHT than simply make it QUICK.
Coaches break down each signing class and decide which positions on their current roster lack depth. Which positions are graduating players? Have players transferred? Who are our top 3, top 5, top 10 targets? They evaluate their needs as a team—and make allotments of how many players at each position they are going to sign.
Once they evaluate their needs and scholarships available at each position—they are going to likely rank the players that they are recruiting—by position—and make scholarship offers in that order. They may be waiting on a player a little more talented to possibly commit or are still in the process of evaluating potential players at each position.
Understand—it’s a PROCESS.
I’ve worked with players who earned offers days or weeks before Signing Day. I’ve worked with coaches who don’t use all of their scholarships until they are 100% confident in a player they offer, they don’t just use every spot until they are sold on a specific player who can help their team.
In certain situations, a coach doesn’t want to offer a player they are sure will commit until they are 100% sold on that player and confident they will be admitted into school and be eligible through the NCAA Eligibility Center—so many players have had to wait months in order to have a decision from a coaching staff.
Remember—you just need to find that one coaching staff who believes in you and you must be patient with the process!
TIP OF THE WEEK- March 24
How do I attract interest when I’m not playing well? A question most parents/players avoid.
A: SIMPLE! If you aren’t playing well, you won’t get much interest! Too many players focus on the recruiting process instead of focusing on becoming a great player. Here’s what you need to do:
#1- Focus on fundamental drills. Get drills from your position coach, and do them every day. Put in extra work. Every day. Master the simple skills of your position. Dedicate your offseason to getting ahead academically and your training.
#2- Develop mental toughness. You may feel like everyone else is getting recruited and you aren’t. Put that energy into your fundamentals. Out-tough the more skilled players! Be the best at the really simple things—it’s the really simple things that win games and get players recruited.
#3- All players develop on their own time! You don’t need 50 scholarship offers, you need to find that one coach who believes in you. There are plenty of college athletes who were late bloomers. Focus on developing your position-specific skills, strength and speed and doing the footwork to find that coach who sees something in you and is willing to take a chance.
#4- How can you separate yourself and make yourself different? You can get an edge by doing the dirty work that other players don’t want to do—Tracking, organizing, playing defense, blocking shots, film junkie, etc. Master a skill that helps win games that most players don’t want to do. Challenge for loose balls, block shots, hustle, be the unsung hero who knows how to make plays instead of always looking for the spotlight. Coaches recognize players who hustle. They LOVE players who hustle.
#5- Think about starting your college career at somewhere other than the highest level. If you aren’t getting the offers you want out of high school, look at other alternatives. The first player from a DII Men’s Program was drafted into the MLS this year. Look at all your options because if you want to play, there is a place for you to play!