Many high school coaches, who think they have a college-level athlete, are unsure how to help in the recruiting process. Many coaches feel that the club coaches now do more for the athletes than the high school coaches are able to do. The club coaches coach the athletes outside of the high school seasons and are typically able to spend more time with the athletes.
Though club and travel coaches do play a larger role today than they have in the past, high school coaches are still the people who get the first questions regarding the recruiting process.
So how can high school coaches be proactive in assisting the student athletes who want to play college sports or who are college-level?
One tip alone can really help your student athletes, and their families, get off on the right foot when it comes to the recruiting process and is a key to your athletes finding the right fit.
Early exposure to the college experience.
When athletes and coaches hear “early exposure,” they think it deals with getting the athlete in front of college coaches so talent can be assessed. While this type of exposure is important, college exposure to the athlete is equally important.
Seems like a no-brainer, but early exposure is rarely initiated by the high school coaches or the athletes. Usually, athletes don’t begin to seek out and research colleges until after they have been in contact with college coaches and are well into the recruiting process.
Below are some ways athletes can gain a better understanding of the overall college experience while they are still young in the recruiting process, and hopefully young in high school.
There are so many different types of college campuses and most student athletes do not see all the differences while they are in high school. The high school coach has a great opportunity to expose their teams to many college campuses. There are college towns, rural campuses, city settings, large campuses, and smaller ones.
There are also small class sizes and large class sizes. There are diverse campuses and less diverse campuses. Exposing athletes to all of these different looks, sizes and cultures allow the student athlete to begin to compare the different campuses.
Ways to get on college campuses that make sense for the high school coach:
When starting early in high school, like freshman or sophomore year, the high school coaches give their athletes a head-start with the recruiting process, maybe even before the athletes know they want to play.
With every different college campus, there also comes a different athletic facility. Visiting different facilities, at all the different levels, can help athletes begin to make comparisons to what feels right for them.
There are large, medium and small arenas, fields, pools, and gymnasiums. Some are newer than others. There are also many different types of locker rooms, weight rooms and student athlete gathering places in athletic facilities, including nutrition stations, study areas and much more.
Most high school student athletes are better at texting than having face-to-face conversations. When the recruiting process hits the step where college coaches want to communicate, many athletes are ill-equipped.
The high school coaches can help their athletes get in front of college coaches at an early age to begin face-to-face communicative practice. It is easier to talk to the coaches when their high school coach is present with them. You could even have parents on these visits.
College athletes are used to meeting with high school aged athletes and college coaches are used to requests like this. You could ask a local college coach to have his or her players meet with your team one day, either after a practice or in the off-season. Exposure to college athletes is a definite advantage for high school players.
Allowing your players to ask questions to the college athletes is another way they’ll learn to communicate. Most importantly, your athletes will learn more and more about the college athletic experience.
If you are lucky enough to have more than one level of college in driving distance, you could expose your team to multiple teams, coaches, and players.
Level of play is such an important piece of the puzzle to find the right college fit. Early exposure to different levels will let your athletes imagine themselves playing at each level and may come to an early conclusion for which level they want to play.
If nothing else, it exposes them to games and practices at the next level and helps them realize the work required to play college sports.
High school coaches are very busy. Why should they do this work with their student athletes? Both the athletes and the coaches can gain information with this early exposure.
Before there is any pressure or angst with the recruiting process, high school coaches can help their student athletes get access to the college experience. When there is no pressure, it is easier to be relaxed and to form questions and visions of what each player will want in her experience.
High school coaches used to do much more for their student athletes with regards to the recruiting process. It doesn’t have to be any different today.
If you still want to be part of the journey, you can.
Parents and coaches can work together to determine an athlete's level of play.
How can high school coaches help with the recruiting process during the summer?