The Injured Prospect: Effective Communication with College Coaches
Injury is an inherent part of any athletic endeavor and no one understands this better than college coaches. There are many prospective student-athletes and families who hedge when bringing up the topic of injury as part of the college process with fear that a coach will see this as a weakness and therefore diminish college athletic recruiting opportunities.
Coaches constantly look for accurate and honest information from prospective student-athletes and in the case of the injured prospect, the manner they effectively communicate their status with college coaches is crucial.
Sports injuries occur on various levels and like it or not…It “comes with the territory.” Acute injuries occur suddenly when training. Chronic injuries, on the other hand, result in prolonged training over many years. If an athlete aspires to compete at the highest level, sprains, strains, bangs, and dings will, unfortunately, factor into the athletic quest equation.
A lot of families see an injury as a potential recruiting roadblock and something they do not feel comfortable sharing. They fear that the injury could be interpreted as a “red flag” that could jeopardize their sons or daughters position on the active collegiate athletic recruiting chart. This, in most cases, is far from accurate.
College coaches are charged by their sports administration to drive their programs to high levels, year in and year out. Their path to success is a simple formula for combining sound planning with the right athletes while engaging in effective, high-level training. A team is as strong as its weakest link and each year college coaches must run their team at the highest level while side-stepping major injury.
This is a daunting task and families who realize that the injury rate for college athletes occurs at a higher rate compared to high school and club sports participants, will soon reach a comfort level when taking an honest and proactive approach to communicating their position.
An important objective of the college athletic recruiting process is to offer coaches every opportunity to evaluate the prospect. Basically, college coaches build an information base with prospects on 3 levels. 1) Athleticism, 2) Academic performance and 3) Character.
Utilizing unique tools in your recruiting arsenal to help separate yourself from the rest of the pack sometimes takes courage. An injury is something none of us want to experience but sharing this information with the coaches gives you the opportunity to present yourself as an honest broker and gives you a chance to tell your distinctive story.
Prospective student-athletes and families should always look for “personal filters” when navigating the college recruiting search. Impactful and unique characteristics that help distinguish one prospect from the next is a critical evaluation tactic every college coach practices and assisting in the process will help you garner respect.
Injury is a natural consequence of high-intensity physical activity and coaches desperately want to help their athletes recover and return to active participation safely and quickly. They look to ones “call to action” and the dedicated effort to return to full strength as a measure of their character.
You can attempt to hide your injury and make every effort to deflect communication to different areas of recruiting, or you can take the high road and make an honest effort in being candid with college coaches.
Coaches have an innate ability to get to what is “real” about every student-athlete they recruit and determine how they are doing (academically, athletically and personally). Eventually, they will find a way to extract information…You can bet the farm on it.
The prospect who present themselves at face value to college coaches accomplishes two important tasks. 1) They convince coaches that they embrace an honest approach and 2) Uncover grey areas of evaluation that could be a game-changer at the conclusion of the collegiate recruiting process.
College recruiting is both exciting and daunting. It requires a disciplined, dedicated and honest approach, especially when it pertains to the physical health of the prospect. Practicing clear, honest and accurate communication with college coaches to the nature of your injury and the treatment you are pursuing will reap respect and help build mutually strong and respectful relationships with college coaches to identify and secure the ideal college match.
Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and Principal Advisor at Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families in navigating the college recruiting process. For further information visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com.
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