For any athlete pursuing their dreams:
First off, this post isn’t directed toward any one coach/team in particular. This is coming from my experiences with ALL of the coaches and teams that I dealt with when I was recruited and also from what I have learned from my teammates and competitors over the years.
This could be the most exciting time in your life thus far. It was for me when I was being recruited. Suddenly on July 1st going into my senior year of high school I had big time college coaches knocking on my door and calling me several times a day. This was beyond exciting because I had the choice and I could pick wherever I wanted. I thought I had the upper hand in this situation but in many ways I was wrong. I won’t be the first to say that recruiting at such a high level is a business and coaches will say and do whatever they can to get you on campus. The point of this post isn’t to discourage any young athletes, but to be honest, straight to the point, and to prevent athletes from making some of the mistakes I made.
Tip #1: Promises
It sounds amazing when the coaches are promising you things that you can’t get anywhere else. From my personal experience, I was promised things that sounded too good to be true and turns out most of them were. The thing is, all of the coaches are going to promise you things but only believe the promises that you can actually see. For example, if a coach promises to bring you to a special competition that is close to home or one you always wanted to go to, that’s not a visual promise. It sounds great, but usually the competition schedules are very similar from year to year and it’s likely the coach won’t deviate from that for one person. However it’s believable if a coach promises a certain amount of gear or nice facilities. These are both promises that are easily foreseeable.
Tip #2: Asking questions
When you’re visiting a college, ALWAYS ask your potential teammates questions. Asking the coach questions is important, but the answers will more than likely be sugar coated. If you want the truth, ask the team and they will probably tell you what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions because if you do, it’ll make your decision a lot easier. Ask them what they like the least or if they even like it there. On one of my visits, I asked one of the athletes how they liked the coach and they said they almost quit track because of how bad the coach was. That helped narrow down my options pretty quickly.
Tip #3: Lists
Make lists. When you’re starting out, write a list of the biggest things you’re looking for in a school and highlight the three most important. You’re hardly ever going to be able to find a school that has all of the things you are looking for so you need to determine what is most important. After you have visited the schools, make another list of the pros and cons and compare it to your initial list.
Tip #4: What’s most important
When it came down to it, the most important thing for me was getting along with the team and the coach. I’ve heard a lot of recruits say that as long as the coach is good, they don’t care about the team aspect. Your teammates will be there to support you and get you through the hard workouts and competitions so you need to be at a school that has supportive and motivated teammates. My favorite thing about UGA was 100% my teammates.
Tip #5: Choosing a coach
When you’re looking for the perfect coach, DO NOT base your decision off of their personality; college coaches are very different than high school coaches. Many times I have seen a coach act one way with recruits and a completely different way with the team. From also talking to others, this is actually very common. Instead, make your decision based on the workouts and how much the team has improved. When visiting UGA, I asked for a copy of their workouts for that week so I could compare it to the types of workouts that I knew worked for me. Don’t just ask the coach what type of things they do at practice, get a real copy of what they are doing. It makes a difference.
Tip #6: Go with your gut
When making your decision, go with what feels right. You may be pressured by friends, family, teammates, or coaches to pick a specific school just because it’s a big name school. Even if it’s a school you initially didn’t think you would be at, choose the school that is going to make you better in the long run.