The best recruiting advice I’ve ever received came from one of the most frustrated dads I’ve ever worked with through the recruiting process. He could not figure out why the coaches did not see the true talent of his son. He was baffled by it, and it kept him up at night. His son was the best pitcher on his little league team, his travel team and his high school team. The boy did nothing but win games and get big outs. Why couldn’t these coaches see it? They’re suppose to be professionals. They’re supposed to be great evaluators of talent. Then it hit him…
I answered the phone and heard, “I finally figured it out. There is no way a coach can ever look at my son the way I look at him, and there is no way I could ever look at my son the way a coach does.” These are the wisest words I’ve ever heard uttered about the college recruiting process.
To grasp this concept, you first must understand that coaches are watching the game through a different lens than you are as parents. Parents are watching the game hoping their son does well. The coach is watching the game trying to figure out if a player can make an impact in his program.
Parents are watching the scorebook. In the case of the frustrated dad I mentioned above, he saw a 13-0 high school pitching record as a rite of passage to college baseball. Sure, 13 wins is quite impressive, but there is much more to the puzzle.
Coaches are watching the tools and skill set. In the same situation, this 13-0 high school pitcher played in an extremely weak conference. He was also a 5 foot 9 inch, 140 lbs right-handed pitcher throwing 77-80mph. No matter how many games he won in high school, his tools won’t play at certain college levels.
The vast majority of parents don’t understand what it takes for an athlete to make an impact on a college team at the different levels. Parents use their information on the past commitments from players they know to determine if their son is capable of playing at a certain level. Johnny Smith committed to XYZ Division 1 school, and I think my son is just as good, so he’s capable of playing at that level. It’s not that simple.
The college coaches are the ones who determine if a kid is a college player. The college coaches don’t use Johnny Smith to make comparisons, they use their own set of standards. They know what their team needs to improve. They know what small blemishes in a player's game won’t translate to a successful career at their level. They know what little attributes do make for a successful career at their level. For these reasons, parents will never be able to read the mind of a college coach.
Be the support system your child needs through the recruiting process. If you try to read the coaches mind, you will end up driving yourself crazy. Remember, as our ingeniously frustrated dad put it,
“I finally figured it out. There is no way a coach can ever look at my son the way I look at him, and there is no way I could ever look at my son the way a coach does.”
Some supplemental reading to build off being a great support system for your child: 3 Rules for a (somewhat) stress-free recruiting process.
THE RECRUITING COACHES helps families navigate the tricky waters of the college recruiting process by providing the most truthful advice and hands-on guidance. Our coaches are all former college athletes and college coaches. You can learn more about how we can help your recruiting process here.