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Whether choosing a school as a blue-chip prospect with 50 scholarship offers or as a Division III non-scholarship athlete, it is very important to develop your personal selection criteria that will help you through the process – and prioritize it based on your non- negotiables and your preferences. Before the process becomes overwhelming, what are the core factors that you need to be happy and successful?
There are four core factors that you need to research:
#2: Town and University Community
#3: Athletic Department
#4: Your Specific Team/Position
It is each COACH’S’ job to sign the best athletes that will put their program in the best position to win. As a staff, they have clearly defined their ‘must-haves’ in prospective student-athletes at each position. It is YOUR job to define what you need, to do your research and to ask the right questions in order to put yourself in the best position possible to succeed. Don’t forget—your job is just as important as their job during the evaluation process!
Determine the handful of core factors that you will be making your decision off of, and stick to evaluating those! Don’t get heavily influenced by the other things that truly aren’t important to you!
Coaches may be throwing the kitchen sink at you in terms of what they have to offer, but many of those things may not be what is truly important to you in the long run. Don’t get distracted!
Take a page from NFL scouts: they ask receptionists, lunch ladies, trainers, coaches, stadium security guards and anyone else a player may come in contact with to find out their true colors—not just how they act around coaches or perform on the field. An NFL prospects ‘true colors’ are almost as important as their athletic ability when it comes to breaking down the top talent, how is the player mentally, spiritually and what type of person are they? How do they handle success, how do they handle adversity? How do they act behind closed doors or when the cameras are off and when the recruits aren’t around? NFL teams are making decisions between one player and another and investing millions and millions of dollars into draft picks—they need to know about every aspect of their life. YOU should take that same consideration with programs and coaches. It’s more about what they’re not telling you that you need to look into. Do your research!
Don’t let one bad comment or opinion take a school off your list—a lot of dirty recruiting goes on—but listen to PATTERNS. If more and more people have the same reaction to a coach or a program, good or bad, listen. It won’t take long to get a good picture when you ask enough people.
Ask several people who personally know the coaches you are evaluating—ask them who they would like their children to play for? Don’t let them influence your decision necessarily, but instead you are looking for a PATTERN!!!
10 MUST-ASK QUESTIONS DURING THE RECRUITING PROCESS AND DURING OFFICIAL/UNOFFICIAL VISITS
#1: What are grad rates of your sport nationally, and how do they compare to the schools that you are looking at? Does that university and your specific team graduate their players? What percentage of that teams’ players have graduated in the last 5-10 years?
#2: What are the grad rates for the coaches that you are thinking about playing for? Have they made graduating their players a priority over their career? What percentage of that coaches’ players (even if they were at another school) have graduated in the last 5-10 years?
#3: Will distance be a factor—do you want to stay within a certain distance from home or do you specifically want to go far away to school?
#4: At some point, ALL players get frustrated with an adversity they face in their athletic career and the first target of that frustration is often living in a city that they don’t like. You will need a balance! Do you like what the town has to offer off-campus—outdoor activities, beaches, arts, concerts, shopping, other sports teams, etc?
#5: Are all of the other teams at that school successful within the conference and in post-season play? Is the Athletic Director and leadership happy being competitive or are they able to provide all teams the resources to win? Do all of the teams win on a consistent level?
#6: How many players AT YOUR POSITION do they plan to sign in your graduating class? How many players at your position have already committed, how many slots are left?
#7: What is the average class size? Check the official admissions information from each university for official stats, not just what the coaches are telling you!
#8: If considering several offers, does the athletic department have the resources (booster money/corporate sponsors) to hire great coaches and provide several competitive advantages in terms of resources and operating budget? Is the team “doing more with less” and expecting championships on a shoestring budget or are they providing the competitive resources needed to win consistently?
#9: What is the head coach’s personality? Players often mimic their coaches, are they great people? Do they only care about winning or do they truly put their players first in terms of lessons that they are teaching them and standards they are setting? Are they womanizers, cheaters, excuse makers, mentally/physically abusive, etc? When you are spending time with the current players ask them how the head coach treats them once they are enrolled— surprisingly, they will usually tell you the truth, good or bad.
#10: What is their plan for you? No starting job is ever guaranteed, even if they may promise it during the recruiting process. Ask them for their plan and also evaluate the roster for yourself.