The Parents’ Role In College Recruiting

As a parent who cares about their child and wants to make sure that they can continue to play the sport they love at the collegiate level, I’m sure you are curious about the role you play in their college recruitment.

The main role of parents in college recruiting is to assist their child through every part of the recruiting process. Additionally, parents are typically responsible for discussing financial aid and scholarships with the school’s administrative office and coaching staff. While parents have a large role to play in college recruiting, they must make sure to encourage their child to be independent and take the lead in their recruiting process.

Parents are very important to the college recruiting process. In order to maximize your child’s chance of playing in college, you need to understand exactly the role you play in your child’s college recruitment. For this reason, we’ve detailed the different responsibilities parents have below.

Parents’ Responsibilities During The Recruiting Process

Provide Support and Advice: The recruiting process can be very demanding and difficult for kids who are only 17 or 18. Your main role as a parent is simply to continue what you’ve been doing your entire life: being there for your child and helping them through their struggles - both academically and athletically. This can include helping them get to games, meetings with college coaches and schools, encouraging them to create a pros-cons list for the different schools they’re considering, and working with them to keep stats and game tapes for recruiting profiles.

Work With High School Coaches And Counselors: As a parent, you are a tremendously important resource to your child. When they come to you, a great way to help is to point to other resources that they have access to, including their school counselor and their coaches. You can think of yourself as the head of a team with the common goal of supporting your child. Your child’s coaches can support them in athletics; their counselor in academic endeavours; and you in other challenges that your child may face. Together, you can help guide and support them through the recruiting process.

Represent Your Child Well: College coaches, while obviously primarily focused on the recruit, care about getting to know the family as well. It is often said that colleges don’t just recruit athletes, they recruit families. For this reason, you must make sure to represent your child in the best possible manner. Coaches want to see families and parents that are supportive, encouraging, and kind. They prefer parents who are clearly invested in their child’s success, but also actively encourage independence because they believe recruits who grow up in this style of family are very coachable and great to have in the locker room.

The parents’ role in the college recruiting process is basically a balancing act. On one hand, you have to let your child take the lead and encourage independence but, on the other hand, you must give them support and advice to guide them through the process. This can include helping them to both leverage the resources they have as a high school student athlete and have productive conversations with college coaches.

Common Mistakes Parents Make

Oftentimes parents overstep their role in the recruiting process. While they mean well, this can turn college coaches away from recruits. In order to help prevent this from happening to you, we explained a couple of the most common mistakes parents make during the recruiting process.

Don’t Try To Take Charge Of The Recruiting Process: While parents should get involved in their child’s recruiting process, they should limit this involvement to ensure that their child’s personality comes through. Coaches want to get to know the parents of potential recruits, but their priority is to get to know the recruits themselves. Overbearing parents can both frustrate their child during the process and turn away college coaches. However, there are areas where it makes sense for parents to take the lead, specifically financial aid. Asking questions about the aid your child will receive is perfectly acceptable since you are financially responsible for their education.

Don’t Forget The Goal Of College Is To Get An Education: When considering colleges, families often get caught up in the school’s prestigious athletic history, fancy weight rooms, and elite coaching staff - making it very easy to ignore the academic side of the equation. However, the harsh reality is that less than 1% of college athletes get the opportunity to play their sport professionally. While recruits should continue to pursue their dream of playing the sport they love professionally, it is your role as a parent to remind them to consider the academic strength of the schools they are considering so that they have a backup career plan.

Parents need to both support their child’s dreams and tether them to reality. While the recruit should be taking the lead in the recruiting process, it is often up to the parents to ask the difficult questions surrounding the school’s financial aid/scholarship packages and academics.

Communicating With College Coaches As A Parent

Parents are often confused over their role when it comes to communicating with college coaches. As a general rule, communication should be predominantly between the recruit and the coaches at the schools they are considering. Below, we explained the ways in which parents should and shouldn’t communicate with college coaches in more detail.

Face-To-Face: Parents should allow their child and the coach to guide in-person conversations. One major red flag to college coaches is when parents answer questions that were directed to the recruit. Even if you feel you can answer the question better than your child, allow them to be independent and take the lead in the process. However, as long as you take this advice into account, there is nothing wrong with participating in conversations with coaches.

Emails And Phone Calls: Arguably the biggest red flag in many college coaches’ minds is parents who respond to emails or phone calls meant for the recruit. Email is the most common form of communication during the recruiting process and, because of coaches’ experience recruiting hundreds of athletes, they can tell when emails are coming from parents as opposed to recruits. It is obviously fine for you to help your child write an email back to a coach, especially if they are nervous to respond or it’s early on in the recruiting process, but the final draft should come from your child and be in their words.

Parents should ask college coaches any questions they have about their child’s future at the coaches’ schools. After all, you should be looking out for your child’s best interests. However, it is important to not interrupt the communication between your child and the coaches at the schools they are considering. The relationships between your recruit and the coaches recruiting them are what allows your child to make the decision that will be best for their future.

Things To Keep In Mind

Create A Checklist
Recruits often struggle with the organization of their recruiting process. Parents, by making a comprehensive checklist of all the different steps they and their child have to take during the process, can greatly help with this. These can include things like “schedule official visits” or “put together a recruiting profile.”

Have Faith In Your Child
As a student athlete who is in a position to continue playing the sport they love in college, your child has already experienced great success. With your support and encouragement, they are capable of taking the lead in the recruiting process.

Attend And Film Your Child’s Game
You can support your child during the process by consistently going to, and filming, their games. Attending and filming their games is a great place to start; these videos will help them tremendously in the recruiting process. They will both show your child that you care and give them material to send to college coaches.

Take Pride In Your Child
You should be proud of your child’s successes, both athletically and academically. Throughout the recruiting process, remember to take pride in your child and their accomplishments. College coaches will appreciate parents who are clearly proud of their children and want to be involved in the future successes.

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