Overcoming Injury Disruption During the Recruiting Process

Injuries are an expected byproduct of athletics. Most athletes, at one time or another, will sustain an injury in sport. There are sprains and strains, pulled muscles, and cramps, but then there are the more severe injuries, such as ACL injuries, torn achilles, and concussions.

Though each injury presents a different set of obstacles, all injuries are setbacks when it comes to the recruiting process.

What are some of the setbacks?

  • You miss your high school season.
  • You miss your summer exposure season.
  • You get replaced on rosters.
  • You spend time rehabbing and not playing.
  • You get behind in your academics.
  • College coaches decide not to recruit you anymore.

Depending on your injury and when it occurs, your list could be longer or shorter than the one described above. However, if you have experienced any of the above situations, know that you are not alone. There are many high school student athletes who are in your same boat. Some will handle it better than others.

Trying to rebound from injury is not easy, but it is possible. It depends on your attitude and your commitment to return to full strength. Many high school student athletes make full recoveries and enjoy very healthy and successful college careers.

If you have sustained an injury, try not to panic or lose hope. It’s human nature to feel like your dreams have been shattered and opportunities are now lost, but it’s important to keep your focus on your goals. If you want to play sports in college, you can make it happen.

Depending on when an injury happens, how severe it is, and where you are in your recruiting journey, your process to return to sport and continue your recruiting process will look different. But here are some things to consider:

Female athlete down on track with 2 men and a woman surrounding her

Injured With an Offer

If you are an athlete who was injured after being offered a position on a team and/or after you have already committed to a college, there are questions that need to be asked and decisions that must be made.

As soon as you are injured, call the college coach with whom you committed and let him or her know the details and the severity of the injury. Most coaches will stick with you if you have already committed or have an offer, but not all of them will. You need to know as soon as possible if the offer is still there.

If you have an offer but have not yet committed, there are more questions that need to be answered:

  • Is the coach still interested in you?
  • Have you been to campus?
  • Have you done enough research on the academic opportunities, and do they have your preferred area of study?
  • Have you researched the coaching staff?
  • Have you researched the program?
  • Do you have enough information to make an informed decision?

If the college coach is still interested in you, and you have the offer, you may want to speed up your recruiting process so you can make a decision on the college that has offered. You may need to do some quick research to assess if the college is a good fit for you. That may mean taking some quick campus visits, researching the academic programs, meeting with the coaches, and meeting the team. If it is a good fit, you may have your future college choice in hand.

If the college is not a fit, you have to make the decision to continue looking or to take the college that offered the position. This decision is not an easy one and should be made with considerable thought. The answer depends on your needs.

You don’t want to choose a college just because it is the only offer unless you are absolutely sure it is a fit for you or it’s more important to you to get an offer than it is to be happy in college. Just because you are injured does not mean that there are not going to be any other offers that come your way.

There is no way to determine for sure, but, if you are committed to a rehab program and your recovery, you could recover fully and have other offers come your way. A lot depends on the severity of the injury and your commitment to the rigorous rehab program.

Injured Without an Offer

If you have sustained an injury and have no offers or commitment opportunities at the present moment, and if you are not a senior in high school, your main concern should be rehabilitation and recovery. It’s possible to make a full recovery.

After you have a recovery plan in place, your focus turns to communication with college programs and showcasing your skills with exposure camps and video. Here are some questions to be answered:

  • Which college programs are you interested in?
  • Are they showing an interest in you?
  • Were any colleges showing interest in you before your injury?
  • What year are you, and how much time do you have?

If you are younger in high school and get injured, you obviously have more time to heal and to get back to your recruiting journey. The older you are in high school, working through your injury, the more sped up your process becomes. (This is true whether you are injured or not)

Physical therapist working with a female and bending her knee

How to Work Around the Setbacks

Understanding that your injury is a setback as opposed to an end in your process is important. What can you do while injured to continue your recruiting journey?  Here are some options for you to consider:

  • Set up your plan for rehab; don’t skimp on this part.
  • Set up a plan for when you get back to playing; what tournaments can you make, etc?
  • Put more effort into your college research; come up with the criteria you want a college to have.
  • Take unofficial visits.
  • Call college coaches.
  • Watch some college games and practices.

Take advantage of the time you have while recovering. Instead of waiting until you have fully recovered, what actions can you take while you are “out.” Most of the time, you would be too busy, but, because you are injured, you might be able to accomplish more of the recruiting process business. Work your way back with commitment and confidence, and continue your recruiting journey.

Girl in pink shoes and shirt wearing headphones and squatting to tie shoe

Your Attitude Matters

The last and most important point to consider is to not allow yourself to lose hope or confidence due to injury. I know it is easier said than done, but, if you were confident before the injury, you can become confident again. You still have that talent. It’s just a matter of working through the rehab process, both physically and mentally.

Most athletes only focus on the physical part of rehabilitation, but the mental aspect is just as important. Your mind has to heal as well as your body. Give yourself permission to do both. It will pay off.

Keep your attitude positive, and keep your sights set on your goals and dreams. You never know what opportunity will come your way next. Be ready.

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