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I remember the phone call with a parent who really understands the recruiting process, but the athletes on her son’s team don’t.  She told me that these athletes think that college coaches will just show up and start recruiting them.  That’s the furthest from the truth.

She told me she is the team mom, so she printed out some materials I sent her and handed them to the athletes.  At first, the kids thought she was totally wrong.  However, after reading the materials and going online to do more research, they realized she was absolutely right.

How about you?  If you’re a parent, do you think your talented son or daughter will get discovered?  It just doesn’t happen that way.  I like to see it the other way.  You need to discover the coaches and programs!  Taking the first step in a recruiting relationship is what leads to most scholarships.

But it’s not just a parent’s job.  It’s up to the student-athlete, too.  The family I told you about in the beginning of this post realizes that.  The athlete is doing a lot of the work in the recruiting process.  As a result, he was invited to combines earlier this year and coaches are still in contact with him.  But it all started because he showed interest  first.

In my Recruit-Me Manual, I have a section on Parent-Athlete teamwork in the recruiting process.  Here’s an excerpt:

Recruit-Me ManualIf you are a student-athlete, here are the things you should focus on:

1. Your academics. We can’t tell you how important this is. You can literally eliminate yourself from a scholarship opportunity by getting into grade trouble. However, you can lift yourself above other scholarship prospects by excelling in academics. Do the best job you can. That’s all anyone can ask.

2. Become a better athlete. The more skilled you become, the greater your chances of being noticed and getting a scholarship. There’s no doubt about it, this is a competitive field. Other athletes in your sport are working on getting better, and you need to stay ahead of as many of them as possible.

The amount of work you put into improving will indicate how serious you are about competing past high school. Although you can’t do all of the things we will list, you can pick one or two: attend instructional camps, take lessons, watch instructional videos, video your performance and study it, find someone who will mentor you in your sport. When it stops being fun, then it is probably time to give up the sport and pursue other interests.

3. Communicate with coaches. Be sure to write letters and send emails. Provide coaches with updates after every season. Write or call back if they write or call you. If you stop communicating with them, they will assume you are no longer interested. You want to keep your options open until you are certain you are not interested in that school. Usually that will come in the final months before you make your decision.

4. Ask a parent or an adult mentor to help you go through this process. You need someone on your team. Preferably, a parent. However, if that is not possible, then find someone who can help you succeed. It is too tough and too long to go through this yourself. And you will need someone you can ask advice and actually help you do some of the letter writing and tracking communications.

As for parents:

1. Be an encourager. Your son or daughter will need this. There will be a lot of ups and downs. He or she will be pursued by some coaches and rejected by others. You’ll have to help your child keep a positive attitude and move forward.

2. Handle the paperwork. Take the leadership in drafting the letters, profiles and questionnaires. Send them out. Don’t do all the work yourself, but work as a team with your son or daughter. With all the communications to so many coaches, your child cannot do it all and still compete athletically and academically. And, over time, you will have to keep a good record of the communications with the coaches.

3. Discuss the process with your son or daughter. Find out what is going through his or her mind along the way. Get an idea of his or her interest in certain schools. Work through it together as you narrow down your choices.

If you work together as a team, each carrying out his or her role, the whole process will be less stressful.

(For more information on how to maximize the recruiting process and to do it right as a parent and student-athlete team, click here.)

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