As a successful high school student athlete, you are no stranger to the unknowns in competition. You don’t know the outcome of the competition. You don’t always know when a coach is going to play you or pull you from the game. There is even uncertainty about your own performance, at times, during competition. Yet, time after time and play after play, you compete to win. You stick with it and continue to give it all you have.
But when it comes to the college recruiting process, the unknowns can bring you to your knees, even causing you to become frozen in time. You don’t know how to move forward or what to do next. Have you ever felt like this?
Waiting for college offers can be emotionally taxing for student athletes. The unknowns surrounding which colleges will extend offers, if an offer will come at all, the timing of these offers, and the pressure to make life-altering decisions can contribute to heightened stress and anxiety. Here are some of the effects of these challenges.
The highs and lows of each call, letter, text or message to a coach can be exhausting. They can affect your performance, grades, sleep, and focus. They can also cause an emotional toll, which may lead to health problems, injuries, or depression.
Not getting offers, or not getting them from your top college choices, especially if you are aiming at high academic institutions, can lead to more pressure placed on grades, papers, and homework. This affects your focus, study habits and overall GPA.
If you are the one waiting on college offers and your peers have already received offers, it feels like added pressure and may leave you feeling “not good enough” or create more self-doubt and lower self-esteem. It’s easy to get caught up in the race to get offers and land a college. Comparing is further exacerbated when you scroll your social media channels and everyone’s offers are front and center.
Pressure from parents can be devastating as they push you to do something. If you have offers on the table, it may mean parents rushing you to make a decision or get it over with. Fans may continue to ask you questions about where you are going to go. When there is no offer on the table, it gets uncomfortable answering those questions.
It’s easy to lose focus when there is so much pressure on you to find a college or to get an offer. But there are actionable steps you can take to ease the tension, keep your focus, and land at a college where you can thrive as a student athlete.
Every recruiting process is different, and each college coach has their own way of recruiting as they fill their own needs and assemble their team. Your focus needs to remain on your goals and your process. Continue to adjust your process as new events occur. Continue to add new colleges and keep your options open.
Never feel like you are good enough, or that you have made it. An athlete who is never satisfied and who loves to get better, is an athlete who will succeed in college. Don’t blame coaches for not recruiting you. Just keep getting better.
Be realistic with your level of play, your desire for stardom, and your capabilities. Even if you are the absolute best athlete in your sport in your state, it may not be enough for the college you wish to attend. Figure out what your level is and continue to build from there. If your top college is not showing interest in you, they may not be your top college. Something else is out there waiting for you.
It’s easy to look over your shoulder and see teammates, classmates, or athletes from nearby communities already touting their offers and commitments. It makes you feel behind. But understand that the recruiting process is very unpredictable and one person’s situation has nothing to do with your circumstance. Just stay in your own race.
Keep your options open and keep an eye out for new opportunities. Continue to research the colleges on your list because the recruiting process could take a turn at any moment. In order for you to make quick, informed decisions, you must have most of your research completed before the process comes to an end.
Continue to communicate with college coaches. If you need to know where you stand, ask the questions. If you need to know who else they are recruiting, ask the questions. Let them know your schedule. Ask them if you can watch a practice or come to a game. Remember, coaches are just ordinary people trying to fill their rosters and win games. They don’t bite.
Find good guidance and support to help you through the tough decisions. Find My Team provides expert coaches to help you deal with your recruiting journey and stay focused on how to overcome the challenges along the way. You, and your family, don’t have to do this alone.
Remember that high school is supposed to be fun. Be a high school student. Engage with other students and continue to build friendships, go to high school events, and be a participant in your high school career, even as you go through the stress of trying to land a college roster spot. College will come when it comes, and you don’t want to look back on your high school career and regret that you didn’t give it your all because you were worried about college.
When you get a lot of attention, as the star athlete, sometimes it’s hard to remember to be grateful for what you have. Say thanks to all those that help you along the way. Be the athlete who lifts others up as well. Praise your teammates, coaches, fans, and community. It will go a long way.
We know the recruiting process is not easy. And sometimes it is even brutal. But if you want to play college athletics, there is surely a place for you. It may take some work to find that place, but with the right guidance and an early enough start, you will get there. You are not alone. Your future college athletic career is on the horizon, and we’re here to help you navigate the path to success.
Enjoy your journey.
A group of teammates talk about how being an athlete empowered them for life beyond sports.