“Parents are usually too much; if they’re over involved it’s a huge red flag. It’s tough to win with kids that have mom and dad to do everything.”
– D3 Head Coach, Minnesota
Navigating the recruiting process can seem like a daunting task for a prospective college baseball player and his family. It’s only natural as a parent to want to step in and help your son figure things out. After all, this is an extremely important life decision. But how much help is too much? Many parents struggle with walking the fine line between being supportive and being overbearing. It is easier than you think to overstep the appropriate and important role for a parent in the recruiting process. We know the last thing you want to do is hurt your son’s chances of playing college baseball, which is why we have come up with 7 tips to help you.
- Make sure you and your son are on the same page before he gets too far in the recruiting process. Sit down to answer the questions that will narrow his search for colleges. What division does your son want to play? What size school? What area of study? How much can you afford to pay for school? How will he make decisions and when? Etc.
- Let your son take the lead when it comes to his recruitment, especially when contacting/interacting with coaches. Remember that this is your son’s recruitment, not yours. Coaches want players who show initiative and demonstrate they are able to do things on their own. In the two most recent KPB surveys, over 40 college coaches from every division of college baseball unanimously said that they want the recruit to be the primary source of communication throughout the recruiting process. Until you have established a solid relationship with coaches from a particular school, emails and phone calls should come from your son. If you really feel you need to speak with the coach, have your son set up the conversation. Let your son speak for himself. If you are with your son while he is talking to a coach, remember the coach wants to get to know your son and is trying to gauge if he will be a good fit for his program. Let your son answer for himself.
- Let coaches do their job. When coaches are out recruiting, they want to be left alone to do their job. In fact, it can be an NCAA violation to discuss your son’s recruitment with them. Let coaches initiate any conversation beyond a simple greeting and always refrain from bragging to coaches about your son. If he is good and the kind of player they are looking for, they will see it by watching him play.
- Do most of your helping behind the scenes. Check in with your son regularly and ask him how you can assist him through the process. Offer advice to keep him realistic and positive, but give your son ownership over the process. Be a part of the conversation and give input. You often see things from a different perspective and aren’t as likely to let emotions blind you to the facts.
- Help your son stay organized. Help him make an email address he will use for recruiting. It is best if it has your son’s full name and grad year in it (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org). Use our updated checklists or make your own to help make sure your son is staying on track.
- When talking to coaches, ask clarifying questions instead of making demands. For example, instead of saying “we want John to start at shortstop” ask “Do you ever have freshmen start at shortstop?” or “How many shortstops do you have returning?” Questions come across as much less threatening while still giving you the information you need to help your son make an informed decision.
- Be informed and have realistic expectations. Baseball is not a big time scholarship sport. Try to enjoy the recruiting process and remind your son that it is supposed to be fun. Help him keep any disappointments in perspective.
We hope these suggestions help you find the appropriate level of involvement. While we could keep this list going, we think that the appropriate role of parents in the recruiting process can be summarized fairly easily. Stay behind the scenes, be realistic, and let your son take the lead. Good luck!