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  • Writer's pictureWayne Mazzoni

Understand Role Of Your High School Coach

Frequently, there are misconceptions regarding the role of high school coaches, athletic directors and guidance counselors, and what high school athletes and their parents reasonably can expect in terms of support from them. Many parents and students also are confused about what else they can do to prepare for college athletics while still in high school. Below are five tips to help clear things up and to provide additional direction to help you get recruited into your NCAA sports program:


1. It is not in anyone’s job description at the school to get you recruited.


Guidance counselors have enough to do when managing the large number of students assigned to them, and, of course, the college application process is frequently overwhelming them. They may be an invaluable resource for your college search, but very few, if any, guidance counselors are athletic recruiting experts.


Your athletic director also has a huge responsibility when ensuring that all of the day-to-day operations of the sports programs run smoothly. In all likelihood, if you don’t notice your athletic director, this means they are great at doing their job. They have so many details to take care of and unfortunately they have very little time to help you navigate through the recruiting process.


Then you have your coach. Today, many coaches don’t teach at your school or are employed within a different profession. This means that they work at another job besides teaching or they commute from another district to coach. For coaches who do teach at your school, they are frequently overburdened when performing their essential job duties. Some coaches also may coach up to three sports during an academic year & many run summer camps, or also have additional side jobs, too. Then of course, they have their own family and personal lives to attend to. Some coaches may help you with getting recruited in their spare time, but they don’t receive extra pay or dedicate a set time during the day to do it.


2. The role of your high school coach.


A common misconception among many athletes is that they expect their coach to lead them through the entire recruiting process. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic expectation because coaches simply do not have the time to do this. Your high school coach should help you with two key components of the recruiting process. First, they should give you an honest assessment of your talent compared to similar athletes projected at the college level. They are around you every day — sometimes for four years, and they are best suited to judge what your game is like. Secondly, when you need a reference, they should be able to call or email (not write) the college coach on your behalf. Please note that it is very important for you to thoroughly evaluate the list of schools before asking the coach to make contact for you. Make sure you have an honest chance for acceptance into those schools based on your academic record, and if you’re projected as a Division 3 player, don’t ask your coach to call Clemson on your behalf. No coach will risk compromising their integrity by overstating your ability.


3. My high school team stinks.


I am often asked by worried parents and players when they come from an awful high school program, does that mean they’ll get overlooked? My answer is unless your team is a perennial power or your team has a superstar on it, everyone is overlooked. There are just not enough coaches and too many high schools for everyone to get the proper coverage. A good player is a good player whether they are on a great or an awful team. I would advise you to play on a non-school team to further refine your skills and recommend that you do not transfer schools just because of the status of the program that you are currently participating in.


4. I am not a high school starter.


I am going to shoot straight here and you may not like it. You are not starting because there is someone playing better than you. If you want to start, get better. I don’t know a single high school coach who is not going to start you for some personal or political reason. They are doing what they think is best to win. Can they be wrong? Of course.


I’ve been wrong myself. I once had a student on the bench for half the season and when he got his chance, he proved that he should have been starting the whole time. Good for him, he was ready for his opportunity. However, I wasn’t out to get him when he wasn’t starting, I just thought someone was better. Most of the time, I am right and all of the players agree.


However, can you still play college athletics if you don’t start in high school or at least don’t start at your main position or event? Of course. Some high school teams are so talented and the backups are better than other team’s starters. In addition, you might just have a great player in front of you. Only one soccer goalie can start. If you are good, but she is better, you are out of luck. However, by participating on summer teams, attending recruiting camps, and sending coaches your highlight video, you can still be seen by coaches and recruited into their programs.


5. What are the best student-athletes doing in high school?


Academically, they are taking the most challenging classes possible. They are on a study plan so that they do their coursework daily before anything else. They also are enrolled in test prep courses because scoring high on the SAT and ACT are still critical to gaining admission. Athletically, they are taking advantage of their coaching and improving their skills daily. They have a good strength coach and are on a solid strength and conditioning program. They also understand and follow athletic nutrition guidelines. They are visiting colleges to get an idea of the types of schools they are interested in. Lastly, they are creating positive habits in all areas of life. Good and bad habits are equally addicting, so they are doing what it takes to ensure they maintain a positive lifestyle. For someone who loves working out, it is just as hard to stay out of the gym as it is for a smoker to stop smoking.

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