Ten “Must-Do’s” for high school athletes

There is no shortage of advice from every angle imaginable when it comes to making checklists and becoming more involved in the process of being recruited nowadays. It seems like there wouldn’t be the need for so many checklists–if only those checklists were comprehendible in their own right and gave the athletes and their parents a clear-cut vision of what’s to come. Well, the case is that many of those lists are pretty clear, but you’ve got to find about three or four of them to make one comprehensive one that can fit into the recruitment strategy.

We’d like to give the checklists thingy a try if you would allow us to. Below are ten things that we feel are “must-do’s” when it comes to putting together the proper plan for success when it comes to this process–a process that can swallow you whole like a Goliath Grouper swallowing a shark. Just remember–recruiting and all of the bells-and-whistles can be deafening and a stimulation overload. See if these ten things can help with the process and let us know how they work for you!

In this day and age in the recruiting process, a student-athlete MUST DO:

1. You must be able to answer tough questions with ease. This is a student AND parent must-do straight off the top. Both parties–or all parties in the family–what have you–must be able to answer many questions BEFORE the process has begun, but we’ll start with two VERY simple–yet VERY TOUGH ones to answer when you think about it. The first, can you compete at the level you’re aiming at? Being realistic is paramount. Answering it realistically is beyond important. The second, what do “they” want? Every coach is different, so here’s where you start the journey of keeping a consistent presentation of your skill set and having your academic qualifications–aka your “brand”.

2. You must show authenticity. If your future plans sincerely involve that program, then tell the coach from jump. Don’t beat around the bush when they ask about your intentions or feelings about playing at their school. Let them be the ones that screw up the painting of the picture–don’t let it be the other way around. This principle also applies to anything-and-everything as it pertains to this process from your end. It’s YOUR responsibility to be “100”

3. Must show some class on Social Media. This one should be self-explanatory, but it’s a war that’s going to be waged between old-and-young for generations with the digital age firmly engulfing us in its clutches. You’d think that giving the advice to someone that the internet is forever and that privacy settings don’t always work would be JUST enough of a deterrent to showing–or perhaps even incriminating yourself–but alas, it’s not. Colleges now have graduate assistants whose SOLE job is to track you on social media–and guess what? They’re a little more savvy than you think–so go ahead and try to outsmart them and see how that offer turns out.

4. You must cross your T’s and dot your I’s during visits. Whether it’s on your campus or theirs–you’ve got to treat each and every interaction like it’s a job interview and actually ask questions–real questions–and if you can? Get to know and even try to become best friends with the local compliance officers from the NCAA. You can find them easier than you’d think.

5. Academics. You must do your academics. Of course this is included in this list because there’s a little more to this than just getting good grades. Sure, the grades are important–but something that gets overlooked is the choice in electives. You can’t control your required core courses, but if you’re choosing weightlifting over another Foreign Language or Digital Media elective? That’s not what this is about. Nowadays, even IF you’re destined to become a doctor, lawyer, whatever–the concept of a Liberal Arts Education is what’s fueling the next wave of thinkers in this country. If you’re not familiar with Liberal Arts Education–check it out. HINT: It’s got nothing to do with politics.

6. You must challenge yourself. This is kinda-sorta piggybacking off of number five, but also a bit different in the content of the advice. It goes without saying that coaches want leaders, and leadership can be displayed through the number of instances in which you’ve stepped outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes the end result doesn’t even matter–it’s the basic idea that you’re willing to do the things that many other won’t. You must also challenge yourself to be an even better human being than your are a student-athlete if we’re being completely honest.

7. You must be willing to be an apprentice. If you’ve got all the answer and are better qualified than a junior or senior at the position–then go right ahead Kemosabe. Sometimes pride gets in the way and we go for the hear-and-now so choosing to play for a coach that promises playing time right away is the most attractive decision to make. Well, sometimes learning from someone that’s been in the trenches can actually catapult your own experiences down the road and can also transform you into a teacher as well at some point. Trust–you’re better off as a person when you’ve been able to accept AND project knowledge.

8. You must cut the fluff on your highlight tapes. This one’s easy. Having a tape that’s more than 3-4 minutes long–and one that will keep coaches’ attention for that long–will be an exception, not a rule. If you’ve got it like that, and it’s over five minutes–then you better google search: “How to creative edit my film” and have the coaches asking for more down the road. Put your best plays first, and then put your best foot forward second when they come asking about you.

9. You must do something. This one’s a deep though more than anything. This checklist is useless if you’ve skipped numbers 1-8 and just started reading this one must-do. It is an easier said-than-done principle however and it shouldn’t be overstated. These colleges aren’t going to just randomly seek you out. When they contact you, it’s for a reason. Over time you’ll realize what’s fluff on their end and what’s not, but until then? You’ve got to do something that attracts them.

10. You must do the right thing. Another easier-said-than-done concept. Sometimes doing the right thing–when immediately following the wrong thing–can make said wrong thing a little bit easier to digest. People make mistakes. Don’t expect to be perfect–otherwise you’ll fail miserably beyond this entire process. Expect that you’ll have made the decision based on what’s right for the situation and you can expect people to look at you in the highest of regards. Make the wrong decision based on careless regards to those that have helped you get to this point in your life and you’ll like feel “wrong” for a long time–perhaps forever.