Written By Robby Wilson
Working with as many prospects, college coaches, and parents as I do in scouting, I see all types of variations of the parent vs. athlete dominance. No two family dynamics are the same. This makes it incredibly hard in managing the athlete’s future because you typically have too much of one thing, and never enough of the other. On the rare occasion, and I actually have found a lot of these over my time as a scout, you have the perfect combination of supportive parents and self-managed athlete. Those are great for me, great for their recruiting process, and loved by college coaches. The typical family dynamics variations are:
Controlling parent; Non-opinionated athlete
I don’t care parent; Self-managed athlete
Although the supportive parent/self-managed athlete is ideal for all involved, it is rare. However, I’m a firm believer that if the athlete is talented, has the academics, has the character, has the drive/desire, and all in addition to supportive parents, you can COACH the family on what each individual’s role is in the child’s recruiting process. Not only in softball, but in all sports. Even the dad who is the coach of his daughter’s team (everyone knows that one), if he is taught how to step back at the right times and be supportive at others times, even that athlete has success at hand.
So what is the “ideal situation” of the family dynamic? How does mom and dad know when to take control or when to step back? It’s actually simple. If the athlete is at the age of recruiting where they need to start thinking about their future, the key word here is their future. Your role as a parent is to be the caring, supportive ear. The comrade. But as hard as it is to swallow, not the decision maker. You don’t want your athlete to go 1,000 miles away to school, no parent does. But the athlete’s #1 choice program who happens to be ranked nationally in what she wants to major in, just happens to be that far away. Don’t squash those dreams and motivation before they even get started. Support them.
The ideal family dynamic IF your athlete is beginning or is in the recruiting process, regardless of the player’s age, is exactly that, the supporter. When it comes to the common aspects (not all of course) of the recruiting process, your role is such:
1. he athlete is beginning to research colleges with softball programs that have her major
a. You sit in a chair with her, behind her, and listen more, talk less. Hear what she has to say.
b. You teach her, if need be, about how to search schools and how to find out online if the school has her major, etc. “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”
2. Your athlete decides she wants to contact college coaches.
a. You set up an email for her and tell her you’re going to have the password too. Teach her how to use the email. Teach her how to compose an email properly. Teach her how to find a coach’s email on the schools website.
b. DO NOT, under any circumstances, send the emails for the player. If a player asks for help when sending one, help. But do not send emails for them. The player needs to “have some skin in it too.” This is her recruiting, her future, her duty. She will appreciate it much more if she is taking an active role in achieving what she wants.
3.Athlete wants to call a college coach.
a. Teach her how to find a college coach’s office number on a school’s website. Only do this once. From there, she needs to remember how. If not, she can ask how again, but from there, she should remember.
b. Do not call for the athlete UNLESS the coach asks you to. This is the player’s job. The player to call, speak with the coach, leave a voicemail if necessary, etc. But not mom or dad.
4. Athlete wants to attend some camps.
a. Tell the athlete to research the program etc. before determining if the camp is worth her time in consideration of whether she even wants to attend the school.
b. She should then, find the camps for those schools and print a list for HER to discuss with mom and dad. The only thing to discuss here is not what school it is, but is the travel, finances, etc. Together, mapping out the best course of action.
5. Athlete decides she wants to take some unofficial visits.
a. Let her be the one to look at her calendar, see when she can go, and contact the coaches. She needs to understand the concept of time management, planning, and attention to detail. Those three characteristics are the difference between college success and college failure.
6. Athlete considering her options and preparing to commit.
a. At this point you SHOULD NOT immediately give your feelings. Watch, wait, she will seek you for guidance because the reality of leaving home has come into her mind. Now is when she will approach you with “what do you guys think?”
b. Bite your tongue in telling her what you want. It’s about her. This is when she is looking for guidance as an adult, but not mom and dad. She wants your guidance on the comparison of the schools, the highest chance of success, the comfort level at the programs, the opportunities for the next 40 years (not the next 4), etc.
I was in west Arkansas interviewing an athlete last week and her father told me a saying that really rings true here: “Boys need to play to feel good, but girls need to feel good to play good.” That quote has stuck in the back of my head since. As a father of a softballer myself, as well as a college softball scout. So if you apply this same quote to the recruiting process it is simple: With college softball prospects they need to feel good, supported, but in control of their own destiny to not only play well on the field, but also to succeed in college as well as in life!
Use the recruiting process with your softballer as a teaching moment. Step back, give them the reigns, but be there right beside her to guide her when she asks for it. Remember, guiding and controlling are two separate things. This is a teachable moment in time with your daughter that could teach her things that will impact a lifetime. Time management, how to cope with stress, how to prepare properly (proper preparation prevents poor performance), how to stay organized, how to conduct herself in different settings/crowds, how to work hard to get what she wants, and lastly and possibly the most important, that she can achieve anything she wants to on her own if she sets her mind to it and takes care of business!
Robby Wilson Robby is the Director of College Scouting for National Scouting Report for Arkansas, and for college softball for the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Missouri. Robby has a B.S. in Exercise Science and has been a certified strength and conditioning specialist working with High School and College athletes for 10 years. As a previous college athlete and high school standout Robby endured the recruiting process himself and has seen firsthand, the changes over the years. As the Director of Scouting, Robby works with College Coaches, high school/club athletes, as well as high school and travel coaches on a daily basis in pursuit of getting the athlete the right exposure and promoting those athletes to collegiate athletic programs for them to continue the love for their sport while getting a quality education.Join Robbie On: Facebook/NSRsoftball, Twitter, Facebook/NSRArkansas
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