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Categorized | Coaching 101, General Topics

Mistakes Made During the Recruiting Process

In Kudda’s discussions with several coaches from the MIAA, there are a variety of mistakes made by players and their parents during the recruiting process. We’ve listed below some of the major mistakes made:

Mistake #1

Allowing the colleges to dictate which schools you should be interested in attending.

Starting on September 1st of their junior year, players can be contacted by coaches. Coaches will throw out a pretty wide net and send out hundreds of form letters knowing that 25% of so will show interest and than only a handful from that group will end up coming. If the college is really interested, that the player is truly one of their top recruits, chances are the player will get a few handwritten notes from the coaches. Nevertheless, on the evening on Sept 1st, junior recruits will have a handful of emails and letters from college coaches. Most of these letters tell the recruit that they were seen at one of the various recruiting tournaments and that the coaches believe that player could play at their university.
Getting a lot of inquiries can be quit an ego rush for a 16 year old kid… as well as for their parents. Suddenly the suspense and anxiety of not knowing if you were good enough to play at the next level gets eliminated as you start to sift through the various letters and emails from the coaches. At this point, many players start to put together a list of the schools that they would like to visit and spend a Junior Day. Mistake #1 is letting the potential pool of colleges be dictated by which college coaches have expressed interest. In our discussions with college guidance counselors and several MIAA lacrosse coaches, players should have developed their own pool of schools prior to Sept 1st, independent of which coaches noticed them at various tournaments and camps.

Mistake #2

Assuming that you will be seen by coaches

Most college coaches spend 4-6 weeks in the summer and a few weekends in the fall going to various camps and tournaments watching thousands of players. In order to maximize the number of players they see, most coaches will watch a half of a game before going to another game to watch the other half…usually they simply turn their fold out chair around to face the other field. Over the course of a 4-6 game tournament, there is a good chance that most coaches will have watched at least a half of one of your games. Was that the half where you played your best? Is it the half where you were in a mental funk and couldn’t do anything right? The coaches who saw you play great in that half may end up sending you a letter while the ones who saw you play another half may not have noticed you. It is all luck. How did you play when certain coaches were watching? A simple solution is to make sure that you go to all of the tournaments and camps, but that gets slightly expensive and exhaustive. You could make sure that your club team is very strong and has other players getting recruited, but you might not be able to get on one of those teams.
Players will then need to put together a video. Contact the college coach to find out what they prefer to see. Most coaches we talked with said they would like to see a few minutes of highlights, and then see an entire quarter of a game. For the highlights section, avoid the slow-motion and special effects, and make sure to somehow spotlight the player in each shot. No need to spend hundreds of dollars having this created by a recruiting firm when you can do most of this yourself or pay someone who knows how to edit $75. Keep it simple and clean.

Mistake #3

Parental over involvement

The number one mistake that is made during this process is parental over-involvement. If the parent is the one contacting coaches, or setting up weekend visits, handling all communication on their child’s behalf, coaches could assume that the player is either irresponsible or the parent is a control freak. Either way, the coach may shy away from that player. It is important for the player to take responsibility for the process and for the parent to be there for guidance and support. Parents can take the lead regrading financial aid and scholarship issues but that’s it! Coaches do NOT want to deal with parents, they want to work with the players.

Mistake #4

Under-estimating importance of initial visit…look sharp and beware of your Parent-child dynamic

The initial visit a recruit takes to a college is important in making a positive first appearance. Players often make mistakes in presenting themselves in the best possible light. Players should wear khakis and polo shirts and have everything tucked in. Baggy pants and sweatshirts give the appearance of someone who doesn’t take care of themselves and this sends a negative message to the coach.
Also coaches are watching for the dynamics between parents and their child during these meetings. If the child rolls their eyes or is disrespectful towards their parents, this sends a message to the coach that the player will be disrespectful towards them.
During the visit the players need to be on their best behavior and stay with their host. There are all sorts of stories of recruits being separated during parties and other functions. Nothing good will come of a 16 year old alone on a college campus.

Mistake #5

Lax (the sport) is the #1 reason to go to a college

Lax should be #4 or #5 on the list of reasons to go to a particular school. What if the college doesn’t have your major? The campus isn’t to your liking? Perhaps it is too close or too far away? Is it OK for a player to turn down an offer from a top 10 ranked school and go to a smaller lower ranked school? Will you ever play at that school? Is the ego trip of telling everyone that you’re going to a top 10 school worth the chance of not having a phenomenal experience?

Mistake #6

Expect a lot of scholarship $

A fully funded D1 program has 12.6 scholarships available. Most recruits will therefore be offered a quarter or half scholarship at most. If the  tuition is $50,000, even with the athletic scholarship, families will be left funding the rest. If you hear of families explaining that they got a full lacrosse scholarship, just laugh at them. Maybe they’re combining all of the financial aid into their “scholarship” offer. This makes them sound good and reflects how awesome their kid is. Chances are it is a combined scholarship and financial aid package.

Mistake #7

Freshmen Grades and academic record

With the recruiting process starting younger and younger, the grades during the freshmen year are becoming more important. Too often, players use their freshmen year as a transition year and think that these grades won’t carry forward to affect them. Since many colleges are looking at rising sophomores now in this accelerated process, the only grades they have to measure are the freshmen year. If these are poor, chances are the colleges may pass the player over.

Mistake #8

Coaches talk with each other

The coaching fraternity is a very tight knot group. Many of the coaches are best friends or hold recruiting camps together or spend many long and hot days sitting together watching lacrosse games. Coaches talk and share stories about all of the recruits. If something happens during one of your college visits, it will surely get around to the other coaches. If something happens off-field at your HS, it will get around. Lacrosse is a very small world and news travels fast.

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