Last week I mentioned that the NCAA reports that only 5.7% of high school football players go on to play NCAA college football. For me, that number is a reminder that it is a privilege to play college football at any level. It’s important for both athletes and parents to remember this. It’s also something to be aware of when weighing college options.
Every high school football player has options they can pursue to be a part of a college football team. Not all of those options are at the D1 level. Do you want to play college ball? There are things every athlete can do today to extend their football career and increase their recruiting profile.
Top Actions Athletes Can Do Today
Get In The Weight Room
One of the most important things a football player can do is lift weights. This might seem obvious at the college level, but it begins in high school. Lifting weights must be done responsibly, but it must be done.
Continuous participation in athletics is hard on the body. Knee and ankle joints suffer from the running and sprinting. Shoulders are strained from tackling or throwing. Many athletes have back problems later in their lives. The best way to protect your body is to lift weights.
Coaching is a profession. It is something that takes a lot of education. The best coaches are constantly studying and developing themselves. That doesn’t mean that coaches know everything. But here’s the thing, regardless of the sport, no team in history has won by having defiant athletes do their own thing.
As an athlete, you need to remember that your coach was also once an athlete. They may have even disagreed with a coach at one time or another. But that doesn’t mean the coach was wrong. Here’s how you can be a coachable athlete:
- Study your playbook
- Be willing to adjust your technique
- Ask questions
- Be a team player, even if it means playing out of position
- Do what your coach asks you to do, even when it seems dumb.
Coaches are looking at the whole picture. They are considering team dynamics, where the weak areas need support, and how the team as a whole can best function. Each player is one aspect of that.
Take The Classroom Seriously
I can not stress this enough. If you want to play college athletics, you give yourself an immediate advantage by having good grades. You expand your options of colleges to attend. Eligible athletes are always going to have priority for scholarships.
Do Your Research
Many athletes wait for colleges to contact them before deciding where they will attend. This is fine, but it isn’t the only option. If you know what major you want to pursue check out schools that rank high for having a great program in that major.
If you have a specific area of the country you want to stay in or a maximum budget you know can’t be adjusted, then figure out what colleges fit.
Communicate For Yourself
Once you know what options you have, send an email to the coach and set up a visit. Better yet, set up a tour with admissions. Although a lot of your time will be taken up with playing a sport, you will enjoy your college experience much more if you participate in other things.
Meet the professors who teach in your preferred major. Check out the dorms. Find out what the campus rules and requirements are. More than one athlete has earned their way onto a team by marketing themselves instead of sitting back and hoping a coach would contact them.
PS- Parents, it’s not going to impress a coach if mommy and daddy are the ones making contact. If you feel your athlete needs a nudge talk to their current coach and ask for them to reach out. This is a great step towards teaching your soon-to-be college student what independent responsibility looks like.
Make Wise Choices
If you have a hot temper that you refuse to control on the field, a wise coach will wonder what that looks like off the field as well. I’ve learned that the best advice I can offer in this area is to always assume you will get caught.
- Don’t drink under age – it’s illegal
- Don’t drive with people who have been drinking
- Don’t do things on school grounds that are against school rules
- Always speak respectfully
- Always have a witness
- Always do the right thing even when it’s the hard thing.
What to stand out in a sea of uniforms and stats? Doing the right thing is the quickest and easiest way to do so.
The process of recruiting can be long and stressful at times. It’s important to remember you aren’t alone, but that a lot of the process is directly determined by you (the athlete’s) personal choices and actions. Thankfully, you can get started today.