“College coaches aren’t looking for kids who just want a scholarship, but for kids who want to PLAY in college. Signing isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning. Continue to grow, to work & commit to PLAYING in college. A scholarship is just a chance; follow through is what matters!”
-Jon Beck @CoachJonBeck
The college recruiting process can feel like an uphill climb, filled with unknowns, setbacks, and disappointment. With persistence, commitment to the process, and the proper guidance steering an athlete through their journey, the goal is to end with a college commitment. However, many athletes don’t realize that a college commitment is the beginning of a new journey, and their commitment to the journey can ultimately dictate how their college experience will go.
Here are 7 key expectations on and off the court that should be considered when preparing an athlete for their college commitment:
This is a critical skill that every athlete needs to become comfortable with: communication with their coach. Coaches should be establishing and maintaining regular communication with their athletes, whether they are committed, or not, and preparing them for this expectation at the next level. In return, athletes should feel like their coaches are approachable. Is the athlete able to approach a coach about healthy conversations related to playing time and their role on the team? Can they sit across from a coach for a player meeting to discuss team dynamics, personal assessment and goals?
Workouts, Practice, Matches, Academics – this is something that needs to be essential. All aspects of being a student athlete need to be embraced and ownership taken by the athlete. Athletes should not have to be encouraged to get extra training, to review film, to keep their GPA high. These expectations will be the norm in college. Coaches, how are you holding your athletes accountable on and off the court? What agreed standards do you have with them?
Is the committed athlete able to take coaching feedback as growth and not a personal attack. Players need to be able to be coached, accept the discussion and implement it. This can be applied to on and off the court. College coaches meet regularly with their athletes, and that relationship is based on giving and receiving feedback.
Time Management /Problem Solving
Players need to be able to handle their schedules that include academic, athletic and personal responsibilities. At the college level they will not be able to miss practice or a match due to studying for a test or completing a project, therefore it shouldn’t be an excusable absense at the juniors level. In order to set the expectation and be best prepared to adapt to the demands of college volleyball, athletes need to learn how to manage their time by planning ahead, weekly and monthly.
Team First Mentality
This expectation will hit some incoming freshmen very hard in their first year of college volleyball. More often than not, the athletes who go on to play collegiate volleyball are the starters and the stars on their high school and club volleyball teams. Most athletes strive to play at the highest level possible, sometimes sacrificing a college scholarship offer to walk-on at a larger university. Athletes will compete for playing time and may find themselves watching more than playing their first season or two of college. Will the athlete train hard and trust the coaching staff’s decisions? Will they take care of themselves mentally and physically to be at their best for the team? Will they be the best teammate on and off the court, regardless of playing time? As coaches, it is important to instill this expectation prior to the athlete’s commitment, and most importantly, to continue the development of a “Team First Mentality” after the commitment.
This expectation has to be learned and observed. Players need to understand that what they invest and embrace will allow for a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is developed from thinking what is being done is enough. Here is what having a growth mindset actually means.
This is a highly discussed topic. Mental health needs to be discussed whether it’s healthy or unhealthy. Many players do not understand either way of thought. Unhealthy mental health is many times mistaken as frustration, feeling overwhelmed, stressed, have a bad attitude or poor performance. If players do not understand that it is okay to talk about these topics and behaviors, and work through them with someone, everyday experiences in college maybe a struggle in addition to playing a sport. Good mental health needs to be encouraged by coaches as well.
The recruiting process does not end with commitment, it ends when you graduate college. Every day, every year is going to be challenging and present opportunities for growth. The earlier athletes start to understand and embrace the challenges as opportunities the sooner their college experience will be their own.
About the Author
This article was written by Glenna Bianchin, JVA Recruiting Education Chair, and Recruiting Coordinator for Carolina Union Volleyball Club, a JVA member in Charlotte, NC.