An Athlete’s Guide: How Parents Can Help

The Wire’s audience is primarily composed of high school student-athletes and their parents. Content isn’t necessarily geared toward one entity or the other, but we understand that both play major roles. This much is obvious. 

While the recruits will generally get most of the attention, parents can make or break their children’s experience in sports. This applies to athletes’ recruitment and their overall enjoyment of sports. 

With that said, it’s important for parents to know their boundaries and provide a support system that can allow a student-athlete to flourish. Read this week’s Athlete’s Guide to learn more about how parents can give their kids every opportunity in sports that they deserve. 

Here are five things for parents to keep in mind:

Build a recruiting team

Having coaches, counselors, and other staff in your corner will help immensely when it comes to getting recruited. 

At this point, according to NCAA guidelines, college coaches must initiate communication through high school or club coaches first. As a liaison, high school and club coaches have the power to help or hurt recruits’ chances. This is why these connections are so important. 

Make sure to build a rapport with any coaching staff. There are a handful of benefits to this. Perhaps a coach will feel more inclined to give an athlete more playing time if their parents have built a strong connection. More importantly, they are the source of communication with college recruiters and coaches. 

Another entity that you will want to have on your recruiting team is a school counselor. Counselors are well-versed in NCAA academic eligibility. In order to ensure a seamless transition into collegiate sports, their help goes a long way. 

Lastly, a recruiting guide, or expert, is able to help smoothly navigate this convoluted undertaking. Getting your student-athlete recruited can feel confusing, especially for those without a background in sports already, or prior knowledge. There are a handful of services available to people nowadays that are aimed specifically at simplifying this process.

Signing Day Sports offers services of this nature. The Pro+ program has seen great growth and success of its athletes so far. 

Sideline behavior

The way you act at your kid’s game is important for a number of reasons. It’s noticed by coaches, recruiters, athletes, and of course, other spectators. Showing any form of agitation or discouragement means that you are negatively affecting the game for others, and most importantly, your kid. 

Generally, college coaches understand that moving forward with a recruit means moving forward with their family as well. In this sense, it’s beneficial for them to get to know you as an athlete’s parent. Make sure to impress them by setting a good example on the sidelines. It’s easily noticeable when a parent is overbearing or complaining too much about the game. 

Kicking and Screaming

Kicking and Screaming (2005)

An easy rule of thumb: try not to emulate Will Ferrel from Kicking and Screaming.

In line with this topic, there are good and bad times to introduce yourself to coaches that you notice at high school games. Often, the coaches will be there on recruiting trips, and they will be occupied with the work they set out to do. Coaches already know who they want to recruit when on these trips. So, instead of walking up unprompted, take the extra step of reaching out to a coach before they come to your kid’s game.

Make sure your athlete loves the whole school

Transitioning from high school to college is a major change in a young person’s life. Sports have likely been their main focus, and what they will continue to put their time and effort into. But you never know what can happen. 

This transition could lead them to pursuing other interests, or they could get injured. In times like these, it’s imperative that your athlete has avenues to explore other interests outside of sports. They need to love everything that comes along with going to school. 

With that in mind, as a parent, make sure to voice this while visiting campuses or researching schools online. Sports cannot be the sole consideration for you or your athlete. A possible repercussion – transferring, is a potentially financial and academic setback that can be avoided. 

Keep an open mind regarding possible schools

Understandably so, most high school athletes prefer to attend a D-I school. However, problems arise when they fail to consider alternatives. Plenty of options are available for athletes to continue their sport and their education at higher levels. If a parent, or their athlete, disregards these options, they risk losing both.

When researching schools, or choosing which ones to visit, make sure to include a variety of options. If the student-athlete isn’t a Bonafide D-I star, it would serve them well to see all options available to them. In fact, their preferences may change when seeing what’s out there. 

Local options such as community college or NAIA schools are plentiful and can provide an engaging, yet more laid-back atmosphere. There are just as many D-II schools as there are D-I, so finding one shouldn’t be overly difficult. After seeing a handful of options, begin updating your list of potential schools as your athlete’s likes and dislikes become more refined.

Most importantly, remember to keep the conversation going. A young athlete should never be so narrowly focused on a school that they miss out on other opportunities. Remember to enforce this thinking within your recruiting team. 

Don’t do the work for you athlete

This one seems clear, but its importance warrants restating. 

A high school athlete is about to undergo the transition of their lifetime, and they need to learn independence. If the recruiting journey is taken on by their parents, they will lack in this area. Time management skills, confidence, and the general knowledge that comes with participating in the recruiting journey will be lost. 

Anne Walker, the Director of Women’s Golf with Positive Coach Alliance spoke in an interview regarding the negative effects of overbearing parents.

“What we’re seeing far too often is: in comes the student-athlete with their parents, and the student-athlete doesn’t utter a word. We’re seeing that a lot and that’s really unfortunate because when they leave, I’m not going to coach mom or dad, I’m going to spend four years with that kid.”

Instead of this, encourage your student-athlete to speak up, and take the driver’s seat when it comes to interacting with coaches. Engaging in conversations with college coaches is important in the coach-student-athlete relationship, and oftentimes, it falls on a parent to initially forge this relationship. 

Leave a comment