The college athletic recruiting process is often paved with mistakes made by parents, students and high school coaches. Here is a list of common mistakes that can put you at a disadvantage in your athletic recruiting process.
Don't let your ego take over
Student-athletes often overestimate their abilities and believe they are better than they actually are. Overestimating your talent can leave you in the cold for a college career if you only target schools that are above your talent level. Though many kids make this mistake and end up transferring, a lot just get cut and never play their sport again. And that's a shame.
You may assume that you will be recruited while you wait for your mailbox to fill up with scholarship offers or wait for phone calls from coaches. This is the number-one mistake. You have to be proactive in contacting coaches; your parents should not be the ones to do it. Coaches want to hear from you.
Don't underestimate yourself
Student-athletes can also underestimate their abilities. They think they would not be capable of getting a scholarship, so they don't even try.
You don't have to be the best player in your league or even on your team to get some scholarship money, but you have to be a pretty good athlete and skilled at your sport. Most of all, you have to try. And in many cases, you have to ask for a scholarship.
Scholarship talent is usually noticed, but not always. Don't be shy about your ability or about calling attention to it and your aspirations.
Don't compare yourself
Don't watch other athletes get recruited and assume the same thing will happen to you since you're "better" or "just as good" as they are.
Few people realize how college and professional scouts evaluate players. A .440 hitter in high school who has reached his talent ceiling will scratch his head when a .250 hitter, who has barely scratched the surface of his ability, is offered a scholarship or is drafted. Stats don't always tell the story.
Don't miss your other options
Some student-athletes feel that anything less than an athletic scholarship to a Division I program is unacceptable. As the emergence of camps, showcases and private instruction takes on a new and more important role, many student-athletes feel that they need a scholarship to justify the time and expense they have already put into athletics.
Understand that scholarships are rare, and full scholarships even more so. Aside from Division I football and basketball powerhouses, most scholarships issued to players are partial scholarships. And a lot of times, a grant and aid package from a non-scholarship school is more lucrative than one with athletic aid.
Don't put too much stock in the mail
Student-athletes get a letter in the mail from a coach and think they are being recruited and think they are now a top college prospect.
But colleges send thousands of direct mail pieces to students on lists they purchase. Be glad you got a letter, return any enclosed paper work, research the school, wait for the coach to contact you (call them if you don't hear), and then the actual athletic recruiting process might begin.
Don't assume talent is everything
Student-athletes assume that if they are talented enough on the athletic field, their grades do not matter much because a coach will get them into the school. Wrong! The first thing a college coach needs to know about a student-athlete is if they are eligible to even get accepted into their school.
Don't be afraid to get help
Parents and students often receive help and encouragement from people who know very little about the recruiting process and little about college athletics. Listen to the right people and do your own homework.
Families start the process too late and end up making a rushed decision. Start researching schools as early as possible, and make first contact with college coaches at the start of your junior year, possibly even the end of your sophomore year. Just get your name in their pipeline by submitting a player profile questionnaire found online at any college sports Web site.
Dave Galehouse, varsityedge.com, and Ray Lauenstein, athletesadvisor.com, are the authors of The Making of a Student Athlete: Succeeding in the College Selection and Recruiting Process.