Updated: Sep 19, 2019
1) IT IS MORE THAN HIS OR HER STATS
Every sport has statistics, but good statistics are not all that is necessary to play at the next level in college. There’s a reason that college coaches request game film, attend showcases and go to actual games when they evaluate a potential student athlete. Just because an athlete scores 20 points a game, runs for 1,500 yards or hits .380 doesn’t mean he or she is good enough to play in college. They want to observe a player’s approach to the game, how they react to different situations, how they interact with their coaches, teammates and officials. And unfortunately, “Are you a good leader” and “How do you react when you make a mistake” are not on college recruiting questionnaires and not easily measured. Hard work pays off and attitude is everything.
College coaches are not perfect and they don’t expect their players to be perfect either. Everyone makes mistakes, yes, even Zion...and coaches understand that. Coaches are interested in an athlete’s reaction to an error, a missed layup and even the response to a bad call from an official (we are constantly working on that with our son)! Statistics don’t reveal these factors. However, these circumstances tell so much more about the player than the mistake itself. Coaches want players who take ownership, learn from their mistake, and have a short memory, leaving the mistake behind and focusing on the next play.
College coaches want players who are talented yet coachable. Start now with your child! Here are some things you can work on with your student athlete to help them prepare for the next level:
Be thankful someone is willing to take the time to help you improve. At the end of every practice, thank your coaches. At the end of games, thank or fist bump each official. We learned an important lesson from a volunteer lacrosse coach a few years ago that my husband and I will never forget. This special coach told each member of the team they to do two things prior to practice. First, they always carry their own gear onto the field (and with lacrosse, that can get heavy!) His rule was that mom and dad drove you to practice but it’s not their job to carry the equipment. Second, after you put your gear down, greet each coach with a handshake. Those two simple steps go a long way.
Be a humble athlete. What’s the saying... “Sports doesn’t build character. It reveals it.” Congratulate teammates when they succeed, don’t brag when you do something special, shake hands after a race...help your opponent get up when they are on the ground.
Be a good listener and be open to honest feedback. To reach your top performance level, athletes can’t take constructive criticism personally.
Be willing to work hard all the time. This goes without saying. Always work harder than anyone...at practice, in the gym, during game time. Steadfast dedication will lead to excellence.
Be willing to change bad habits. Bad habits lead to poor performance. It makes the difference between winning and losing. It makes the difference in advancing an athletes’ skills. Be willing to listen to each coach and change if necessary.
An athlete’s character is always on display. Coaches notice and look for more than ability. A player who exhibits the total package of athletic ability and the intangible character qualities of leadership, attitude and coachibility significantly improves his or her chances of playing in college.