College Coaches are still not coming to your high school games.
I first published this article about five years ago. It has been shared tens of thousands of times and generated a lot of spirited discussion from coaches and parents about if and why college coaches aren’t coming to high school games. Over this time, I have interviewed and spoken with a lot of college coaches. While there are exceptions, the fact is…
Truth: College Coaches Are Not Coming To Your High School Games
Are you placing your hopes on a college coach seeing you at a high school game and pulling out a scholarship offer? Unless you are a star football player, think again.
Most college coaches don’t spend much time watching high school games unless they are going to see a specific player they already know about. This is increasingly true across sports that have a competitive environment outside of the high schools. These would include showcase events, legion baseball, AAU basketball, and tennis open tournaments.
Why Aren’t College Coaches Coming to high school games?
1. When watching a high school game, the college coach has to wade through many talent levels and ages. There are only two teams playing.
As a college coach, I went to a couple of days of the state playoffs every year. That was it, no regular season games.
I only went to the two largest classifications in the state. The smaller schools were a waste of time. The best players from small schools would be on a club team and I could see them in that venue. Often, I was the only college coach who attended playoffs, even of the biggest and best schools.
2. High school coaches are notoriously hard to contact. They are teachers who coach on the side. When dealing with clubs, coaches are easily accessible and are in the business of helping players get into a college program. It is hard for college coaches to obtain rosters from high school coaches, and even harder to get them to hand over contact information.
I was a glutton for wasting time. I would spend hours trying to contact the high school coaches beforehand. Over the years, I got to know many of the high school coaches, but high school coaching turnover is high. I would find them on high school websites and contact an administrator who would give me contact information or promise to pass my name along.
I then contacted the coach and asked who to watch, graduation years, who wanted to play in college, and who had already decided where to go. As often as not, they would not give me the contact information for the player. They had to check with the parents and have a parent contact me. I would watch the games and try again to contact the coaches and get contact information. My success rate for navigating all the layers and talking to a player was low. Extremely low.
Talent Is Swimming In Abundance Outside of High School Games
Contrast the experience above with a club team. A showcase tournament provides college coaches with a list of all the teams, coaches, rosters, and real contact information from the players. I can contact players before or after the weekend showcase. At the event, parent managers walk around and give information to college coaches, helping their kids get noticed. I can call or email a club coach, or the director of the club, at any time and they get back to me to talk about their players. They are literally in the business of getting athletes opportunities to play in college.
As a general rule, it is more efficient for a college coach to spend time watching players in the club environment. That is why you won’t see college coaches in the stands at your high school games.
How Do You Get College Coaches to Notice You?
Being on a club team does not guarantee college coaches will be knocking down your door. If it were only as easy as joining a club team and going to showcase events, but it is not. There is more talent available than roster spots. Unless you are a top tier athlete, college coaches will not know you are alive…until you tell them.
If you’re tired of wasting hundreds or even thousands of dollars on recruiting services…
If you’re terrified that you’re going to ruin any chances your teenager has of being recruited by a great athletic program…
If you want to do everything you can to give your high school athlete the best chance at an amazing sports career that will fuel their self-identity for decades to come…
Then this may be the most important book you can get your hands on:
How to Get Recruited: Got Talent. Get a Plan. Get Recruited.
LIKE WHAT YOU READ?
Here is another great article for parents: 5 Reasons Coaches Will Stop Recruiting Your Child Because of You
80 thoughts on “College Coaches Are Not Coming To Your High School Games”
I have a question- If your student-athlete competes on a strong club team (soccer), is it important to play Varsity school ball? We are facing a difficult and frustrating situation. My daughter has been bullied by parents and athletes in the school soccer program, and the coaching staff has not been helpful. We feel she may have to quit the program. This is a large, suburban school with a good soccer team, but by no means a stand out. Conversely, her club team is talented, supportive, and well-coached, and there have been no issues. She is participating in other sports in the high school. In short, if the talent, desire, and work ethic is there, and she “markets” herself to coaches, will they care that she opted out of the high school team? High school is definitely lower quality soccer, but I’m concerned this will be seen as a red flag.
NCAA sanctioned basketball tournaments attract college scouts from across the country. The trend is becoming – scouts books a flight to one of these tournaments, obtain a list of all the players, watch the most important games (championships), and then dump offers en masse to the best and tallest players from the championship games. These players may get offers from 20 universities, especially if its the summer of their junior-senior year. The scouts pay little attention to the 8th, 9th, 10th grade players (unless they are already nationally ranked.) This system makes great since if you’re a scout with limited time on your hands. But, just imagine how many great players never get seen because of this tunnel-vision approach that is sadly today’s standard in recruiting.
As a parent that has been dealing with basketball for 20 years and seeing coaches come to schools, I would have said this article was generalized if I wasn’t witnessing this very thing right now. I am now at the recruiting stage of my 3rd son, in a new state after relocating and experiencing exactly what this article is speaking. We are originally from the midwest, and college coaches would always come out to the schools in our city more than the club games at least when my first two sons were going through this stage. However, we recently moved to the DFW area, and I won’t say particularly what area specifically but we have been beyond disappointed with the program in our district. Our household is always about academics first, however, you do have kids that truly have the talent to play on the next level and are committed to the game and academics, but it is just so different here. Where we are from most coaches are just that, coaches. They don’t teach classes and if they do its physical education. This way they have time to devote to their program, coaching, mentoring, building relationships with each player, etc. Here it is completely opposite. I have sat through two years of coach and player disconnect. They don’t build relationships with the players, there is no focus on the development of the game or skills, team bonding, etc. It’s like watching rec ball…kids playing with each other but against each other at the same time; everybody is out for self and nothing is corrected. Coaches don’t know their personnel, who works well together on the floor, etc. There is also the multiple sports thing. Now, sure kids play multiple sports, but in all my years of dealing with basketball and school sports, it wasn’t common for players to play two fall/winter sports, but rather a fall and spring. Here they have these kids try out for basketball starting on the first day of school for what they call “off-season” basketball. Then when football season is over, they hold another tryout to allow the football players to try out and if a football player makes it they can potentially eliminate a player who made it from the first tryout. I find that unfair, especially in instances when a football player doesn’t really want to play basketball for their love of the game and/or the potential of playing on the next level, but rather to stay in shape. I have witnessed football players have a spot on the team this year and they have already committed to colleges for football and had more playing time than those that truly are dedicated to basketball. There is also the newly imposed “athletic fee” to that has to be paid, where for a few parents they paid to watch their kids play a minute or two or not play at all every game, not developing their skills and craft. I watched these same kids who play club ball against some top-ranked kids from other states, local areas and school districts go from playing almost a whole game, scoring double digits in points, steals, rebounds, etc, to barely playing at all at school because the coach hasn’t taken the time to get to know the players skill level or even their dominant position. Kids playing the 4 and 5 that should be playing the 2 or 3 or really not having a role at all. Kids who are afraid to play the game they know because they are too focused on the million and one plays that they go over in two hour practice, making sure they are in the right place on floor while the coach is yelling through the whole game about what spot they should be in and being afraid of messing up on the play because they will find themselves on the bench the rest of the game. Kids who have been playing this game for years losing confidence and feeling defeated because of poor coaching and a poor program that they are requiring parents to now pay for it. No recruiting from college coaches etc. Coaching done during the game instead of in practice. My experience has been experienced coaches doing the job in practice and when those kids hit the floor they already know their role, position and what needs to be done and the coach isn’t standing, yelling and directing the game every minute of every quarter. The other side of this for those facing schools that don’t have recruitment assistance is finding the right club with an organization and coach that really does care and is not working for an organization that’s all about the money.
Thanks for all the great information, but I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. Does playing high school soccer in the fall and playing club soccer in the spring deteriorate college eligibility?
Thanks for the kind words. There is no effect on college eligibility by playing club or high school. Enjoy both if you are able!
Great article and valuable discussion in the comments. Thanks!
Quick question re Tennis. What is a club team? My daughter plays on her school team and plays many USTA tournaments. I’m just not familiar with what a club tennis team for a student would be.
Thank you. For tennis, I believe it would be equivalent to coaches coming to USTA tournaments rather than high school matches. Clubs are usually associated with team sports; basketball, soccer, travel baseball, softball, etc. These are all associations like USTA that are not associated with a high school.
Thanks, was hoping I wasn’t missing something!
My son’s baseball team is not very competitive. He wants to not join the HS freshman team but plays a good travel team. Do people do that?
Yes, a lot of athletes skip high school ball, and focus on travel teams. There are lots of ways to develop and prepare for college athletics. The path to college athletics is varied, because like your son, athletes have different situations to contend with.
This was very hard to read being a high school coach and is exactly why high school coaches and AAU coaches bumps heads (although I am all on board with working with AAU programs). High school coaches want to build successful programs and competitive teams. Needless to say that comes from team chemistry and working together in the off-season. But with that being said AAU has gotten so big it’s almost impossible to get kids to participate in the summer because it is not beneficial to their recruitment.
Also I haven’t had much luck getting any type of feed back from college coaches when I contact them about possible prospects. I do keep in mind the skill set of the kid (so I am not contacting Duke for a kid who should be playing at the D2 or D3 level).
It’s just getting tough to build a high school program when AAU is so dominate and college coaches ONLY recruit from the AAU circuit and ONLY attend High School games of the kids they consider their top prospect.
I read through this article and all the comments, and as a new high school softball coach, boy am I discouraged!
This year will be my first year as a head coach for a first-year varsity program in Chicago. Last year I served as an assistant coach for our JV team (we had 9-10 last year, 9-11 this year). Last year I learned what I always figured: I’m a pretty good on-field coach. I can teach the game. Now that I’ve assumed head coaching duties, I’m diving headfirst into everything. I was curious about how high school coaches developed contacts with colleges, and that’s how I stumbled upon this article.
The truth is, right now we have at most a couple players who are likely to be able to play college ball. But I feel it’s my duty to do whatever I can to be an advocate for my girls (This usually falls on the parents, but not all of our girls have the most involved, attentive parents). Judging by this article, it seems like I’m going to have a hard time getting the attention of college coaches unless I guide my best players into travel ball (and I know that means I’d likely end up losing them before they graduate).
Since I’m in this for the long haul — and since I’m not a teacher at the school who is too busy to spend much time on coaching (my wife is a teacher; I have a great, flexible, work-from-home job that allows me to dedicate a lot of time to coaching) — I’m curious to know the best ways to help my girls get attention from colleges. Do college coaches want to hear from high school coaches? I’m not 100% sure I’m even allowed to advocate for my players, since there is an IHSA rule against “help in securing a college athletic scholarship,” so I wouldn’t mind a little guidance in that regard, too.
I want the best for my players, and for some, that will include playing ball in college. I really hope they have options other than finding expensive travel teams.
Yes there is hope. Coaches not coming to high school games is just one facet of what is going on. There are really two big issues for a player to find a roster spot in college.
1. Talent: The player must be good enough to play in college. As a coach, it is your role to get players to understand they must work hard every day to develop their skills.
2. Being proactive: The players who generally end up on college rosters are the ones who market themselves to college coaches. Your role is to be a guide and a motivator in regards to these individuals.
I sometimes do one hour training with individual teams or an entire school’s athletic program about the recruiting process. It is completely free. If you want, I would be happy to do it for your team or school. Send me an email to email@example.com and we can talk about it.
I have a question. My HS freshmen daughter just the 15 premier soccer team in the twin cities. When she tried out for her small town HS, she was placed on the C team with players from the local soccer club that feeds the HS. The JV on the HS team has 8th graders on it with 9th graders who played C1or c2. To make matters more strange, she was told that she is playing the wrong position and she was put on the team to learn the position. Come to find out that one of the 8th grade JV players are also learning a new position but didn’t get moved down. I feel like she getting over looked because she did not play for local club which does no off season training. She loves her soccer club and their training. What colleges think of a player who never makes their varsity but plays premier?. I’m not sure she will ever make varsity but wants to play her friends anyway. Also, all of her school friends made JV except 1.
Any advice would be helpful.
To be sure not playing varsity is a more difficult road to a college roster. This is usually not because a college coach cares so much about if a player plays high school soccer as it could be an indication of talent level. That being said, I have coached a couple players in college who were in similar situations. One went to a high school that did not have soccer. The other player went to a big high school that was a top contender in Texas every year. She was J.V. her first three years. Her senior year she was on the varsity roster, but played very little. She ended up playing college soccer and becoming a leader on my team. Her confidence grew every year in college as did her abilities. Secret: She was one of the hardest workers on my team.
My recommendation for your daughter is that she play for her school. Every day she should show up with a great attitude and work harder than every other player on the field. On her off days, she should work on her ball skills, fitness or both. The issue is not really about her talent as a freshmen. If she wants it badly enough, it will show in her work ethic and will over time show up in her increased abilities.
I would recommend that you both should read “The Talent Code” Daniel Coyle.
Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
I have a son who plays both club and high school basketball and I have to say that this article is true. I’m not saying that one is better then the other but times have changed where recruiters and coaches simply just don’t highly recruit by going to high school games in the case for basketball unless there are specific players they’re interesed in or if that high school plays a national schedule
. I can also say that 90% of the AAU tournaments we’ve attended in CT there were no coaches or recruiters to be found in the gyms. You’ll only see them at NCAA sanctioned tournaments during the contact/evaluation periods in April and July like my son played at over the weekend. Most kids have no clue about these periods or what it takes to get an athletic scholarship. A lot of these coaches sell this misinformation to mediocre and even some high level talented players, that they’ll be discovered by some college coach or recruiter at any of these tournaments, so what happens? The parents dish out all this money to the club for their kid to travel across states or within the state to play up to 5 or 6 games on the weekends in front of who else? Other parents looking around trying to figure out who’s a potential scout when in fact none are there. Players along with their Parents must market themselves via YouTube, contacting colleges coaches, attending shocases and talk with their high school coach to get him/her on board during the process. The most important part of this process is for the parent and the player to be realistic on the players ability and level of play. Most kids will not receive a division 1 scholarship and a lot won’t even receive a division 2. Majority of the players and parents believe their child is better then they really are. Most look past this and say just work hard and it will happen. The truth is that it may but in reality most of the time it doesn’t pan out that way.
You are right on. Thank you for sharing this valuable insight from a parent’s perspective. I hope many parents will read this comment.
I agree 100 percent. Most of us club coaches have the kids all of their lives at least up until college and have established relationships with the families. This type of relationship is hard to find in any school due to the coaching turnovers.
Key part is that he didn’t go to “smaller schools.” The bigtime schools in the 6A category, college coaches want to see players against some of the best players in the state. College coaches go to HS games, just not the smaller schools. The part about going to see specific players is definitely true, but don’t think that college coaches DON’T go to HS games.
Former college coach here: If I want to see what skills a kid has I go to a showcase. If I want to see whether he knows how to win or not, I go to a High School or American Legion game. These kids on “elite” showcase teams are sometimes on the best team they will ever play on and win because they are simply more talented than the other teams in the tournament. How these uber talented kids do when not surrounded by a bunch of other studs tells me if they know how to win or not.
No longer in college coaching. Now spend my summers breaking the bad habits showcase ball taught them (me, me, me) and teaching them how to run bases, situational hit, set up and finish hitters without just throwing it as hard as they can, etc.
Lots of money being spent by most of them to end up at a D3 school they could have ended up from any program – and with lots more money in the bank for their education.
True to an extent. We are a small, single-A high school in Georgia, but we consistently make it to the Elite 8 in the state. It has been my experience that small, rural college coaches (and others from time to time) WILL come to high school games and high school tournaments if they know about real prospects and they know that the team is playing against real competition. This, along with the power ranking debacle in GA, is a reason that I try to schedule our non-region games against teams in higher classifications and ones that potentially have prospects on college radars. It increases the “small-time players” chances of getting seen by a coach coming to watch someone else. Also, while I’m on this subject, other states laugh at GA for playing softball in the fall. I personally think it is great. It doesn’t really cause conflicts between travel ball and school ball, it gives dedicated players the chance to truly play “year-round”, and it takes advantage of the time of the year when college coaches have less going on. Also, there is a flip side to “club” teams. If travel teams aren’t playing in the top tiers, against top-tier competition, then kiss those bigger colleges goodbye. I’m off the soapbox now 🙂
Interesting but you must not have ever recruited in Texas. Sad to say very bias point of view and disrespectful to suggest that they are teachers playing coach. They’re bad club as well as high school coaches. So to suggest one is better than the other is wrong on so many levels. I find it interesting when it comes to recruiting does whether or not one qualifies is depends on his or her grades. High school environment stress this is based on it. I can’t speak on for all clubs but I do know that they do not have a no pass no play.
Thank you for the article. There are so many layers to this topic and one which receives great debate. There are diehards on both sides of the fence. I have run a club softball program for 7 years and prior to that helped with our high school program. I am also an ex-high school baseball coach. You hear many arguments and claims about each (HS vs Club) regarding the intentions of those coaching, or about integrity, “Team”, responsibility, character, etc. The funny thing is that these arguments can be made for both high school and travel ball. There are bad coaches and people on both sides, who have no business doing what they are doing. Anyone who thinks these issues and problems exist in only one of these areas is simply being naïve. I live in a state where the club ball and high school ball seasons are at the same time(summer). Players and families are forced to choose one or the other because most school districts prohibit players from doing both. After two years of my daughter playing HS ball and seeing zero college coaches around and receiving zero help and advice about the recruiting process, she went out of state to play club ball. After 2 1/2 months she had 40+ college coach contacts, 15-20 of which were serious about recruiting her. That was in 2009. This is not hearsay, nor is it an opinion. It is fact and it happened. That is when I realized I needed to start my club program – so that I could help others in this state reach their goals and dreams of playing at the next level. After traveling the country, I have found that the majority of club coaches got into the club scene for the same reasons I have – to help players and their families. And I know there are some great high school coaches who also go above and beyond to help their players. So there is no winner in this debate. It just depends what each player’s situation is. That said, this article couldn’t be any more true about the reality of the recruiting situation. It is what it is.
Here’s the thing. Recruiting has changed tremendously over the past 10 years. HS sports is irrelevant to getting a college opportunity. It is a vehicle to get continued reps in honing your craft and skill set because of accessibility and convenience. Playing at and against the best talent nationally is required to gage ability and projection. Showcases and videos are a starting point, but not the end point of getting offers. No one is getting offered on JUST A VIDEO or just because some recruiting company representative, or travel team coach says so. Coaches livelihoods rely on them getting out and recruiting players they see in action, and against better talent. Besides a local college coach going out to see a local talent on an off day, they are not actively recruiting on the road during theor season. They are getting and compiling lists of players they need to see in their off season. Usually it is the recruiting coordinators that are in the trenches not the head coaches. They have a lot of other things on their plate. As a parent, you are biased and cannot represent your kid. Coaches will be cordial but will go to other sources. Understand that college is a business and so is getting recruited. To think that this is a game and there shouldn’t be any costs or coaches shouldn’t be compensated for their knowledge, experience and contacts is being naive. When you stop being compensated for whatever profession you are in, then getting recruited will be free.
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This is a great article! Thank you for such thoughtful thinking about youth sports. I appreciate you linked to my article as well. I shared your article on my Facebook page and encouraged people to read it.
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Many people posting commented against cost of club and that many coaches will go to a HS match if their child is good enough…
Most clubs offer financial aid or scholarships, and most club coaches and admins are willing to work with your family if the child is special and unable to play based on finances.
College Coaches only attend a rare high school game if your child is good, AND you already contacted them and marketed the player. Going to a random game and looking at roster doesnt tell the coach commitment level, GPA, or even if their college offers the players hopeful field of study.
The game of soccer in the US is changing, if little johnny plays 4 sports and does not only play soccer year round, he better be amazing physically to fake it over the soccer players that love the game and train nonstop to become the best player possible.
Obviously there are exceptions. In the Kansas City Metro area college coaches frequently watch the top teams play.
Here is another perspective on the role of HS coaches in recruiting. http://www.nscaa.com/news/2012/12/high-school-coach-and-recruiting
Lost in all this ? Club players never get to “play for their school” club teams have coaches that earn their financial success by families that pay the team fees, travel all over the country spending countless more money just to watch their child, I’m sorry to say this, but I am totally against club sports, it is killing what young players should be learning about teamwork, loyalty, playing for school pride. All of that is lost, and as a long time HS coach, it saddens me to see it.
Thank you. While I don’t agree with you, I appreciate your adding to the discussion. I think it is valuable for multiple opinions to be heard. I think there is value in both the clubs and high schools. Experiences for the players are widely different depending on their area of the country and the level of play and coaching they have to choose from. I would say that many clubs do consistently develop teamwork and loyalty in their players.
I played for my high school growing up. A serious question I would ask, not a belligerent one. “Why is playing for the school and school pride so important?” I would love anybody to respond to this. I am not saying it is not important, but if it is important, what are the reasons it is important?
Why is there such a divide/friction between HS and club programs? We have been fortunate that our daughters (2) club team’s back off training and competition during the HS season, they appreciate the physical grind it takes on the girls. But, if we ask the HS coach to let the girls skip the 3 mile run because the have a club game that night or to back off the weight training because they have a important showcase this weekend the girls are treated like traitors. HS coach gave one of them a 0 for the day, that’s really looking out for her GPA :(. It’s like looking a gift horse in the mouth. HS get all the benefits of the training the girls receive from club, but can’t give a kid a break/credit if they need to skip a workout to play in a club game, which is essentially like doing homework.
My girls play club for the love of the game, they play HS for the love of their of their friends and school. But they know which one is making playing in college a realistic goal for them.
As parents we love watching them play both!
God bless you, Bryan Drotar, for asking a great question. 🙂 HS Coach Brian, as a Basketball Club Director in the Midwest, I couldn’t disagree more. Many HS coaches are now grateful for the work done by clubs. The club experience has raised the talent level dramatically. Our club has a tremendous focus on character and teamwork. We use this experience to reinforce healthy personal development. For too long, HS was viewed as the only game in town. As this article effectively highlights, that game has changed. Passionate, dedicated athletes now have many options. I’ve often been frustrated to develop talented, confident players only to release them to a school program that will force them into a micromanaged system that stifles growth. Frankly, its the norm in my area though I will at least acknowledge some excellent coaches at both the club and HS school level. I view this discussion as healthy and should force all coaches to examine their motives. This winter, I have concluded that a primary difference is that my passion is to develop great players and teammates, while a HS coach often wants contributors to his system. One of my best players is currently having precious time wasted, trying to prove herself to a controlling, manipulative coach who has become part of the institution. It’s maddening. So, back to Bryans question- why is the school program so important? It really isn’t. For reasons stated in the article, good players will be seen. The competitive circuit provides ample opportunity to be recognized. The school programs do offer some social recognition from peers that is NOT unimportant to a young person. There are HS coaches that can benefit the overall growth of a player, but there are also those who really aren’t in it for the right reasons. If families encounter that in a club, they move on. Its more difficult to change public schools, so players are encouraged to “buy into the system”, “develop school pride”, “be a good teammate”, etc. We romanticized the “Rudy” story way too much. My message is now “YOLO”. Time is precious, and players should be valued. Situations should be mutually beneficial. Ah… love the topic, but better wrap up! Great work, Bryan!
Well said Brian.. I totally agree with you. People are missing the big picture about what High School Baseball is all about. There was never travel baseball before and college coaches had to go out and recruit. So how did college coaches get players back then by watching high games and word of mouth which wasn’t a problem. There are people that are making money off our kids to play in these tournaments. If your kid is good enough he will be seen. We’re making it easier for these college coaches because if there wasn’t travel baseball then how would college coaches get their players or would there not be any college baseball. How much are you making off this Bryan. To add to why playing for your school and school pride is so important. Why because you play with kids that live in your neighborhood school, you don’t pick from the best players from around the state, you create memories which you will have for the rest of your life, a chance to win a State Championship that happens once a year that means more then playing in a tournament that people put on every weekend and play because you pay an entry fee. I bet you grew up back in the day when there was no AAU and played High school sports and now your making it sound not important or maybe you never played high school sports at all so you wouldn’t know the importance…That’s it..
Thanks for your comments. A couple of thoughts from my end you alluded to.
I did play high school sports. In fact, when forced to choose high school baseball or club soccer (my hs coach made me choose one), I chose playing for my school.
I am currently a DOC for a soccer club. We encourage our players to play both high school and club. We don’t conduct club practices during high school season.
Finally, for the most part coaches are not watching players at high school games. They are watching them through the clubs. There are exceptions of course as there is with anything.
I have coached high school teams, club teams and college teams in 5 states over twenty years and so I do have a bit of experience with what is going on. It is neither good or bad that college coaches spend the majority of their time recruiting from clubs, but it is the reality. High schools and clubs both have their place. The quality and experience of both high school and club varies from place to place and sport to sport.
We as parents are free to choose where our kids play, depending upon our goals, aspirations for our children and the reality in the region we are.
I disagree with this, with politics in hs sports these days. Varsity coaches are lamenting thier loss of center of control. They have become unimportant. They did it to themselves.
Our son is an awesome athlete but we’ve been warned that oyr coaching staff is exactly like what’s explained above. Thankfully we were able to afford the recruiting website but we also utlize YouTube. All our son’s football and track footage goes up there. Plus he’s sent personalized emails to all the coaches at the schools that are top on his list. Our AAU organization also has a page set up specifically for college coaches who are trying to obtain info on our athletes. Whether you have $$$ or not, there are plenty of free avenues that you can travel to get your kid exposure. You just have to be willing to really market your kid. Also, you have to be willing to communicate your needs. Many AAU/USA organizations have scholarships and/or fundraisers so as many kids as possible can still participate.
Thanks Brandy. This is great information from one parent too many others.
Would you say the same is true for football? There are few club football teams. We homeschool, the homeschool leagues are typically 6-man, not a true representation of the many positions that would be played in a typical football game at the collegiate level.
I am not an expert in the realm of football, but I think it would be safe to say that college coaches will not be watching 6 man football games. There is hope. Tomorrow I will be posting an article about how athletes can get on the radar screen of college coaches regardless of where they are playing. We homeschool our children as well, so I understand the challenges athletically.
I have to disagree to some extent with this article. In my 20 years of coaching I have noticed that if an athlete is good enough. The coaches will come to them. I do think club teams are a great way for athletes to get more specialized training at times. But I also believe that club teams, at times, only cater to those who can afford it. There are MANY great athletes who do not specialize. And those kids are usually not lost simply because they do not play on a club team.
As a D3 college women’s basketball coach, I agree with the one comment that it’s hard to get to HS games because of conflicting seasons and schedules. The club/AAU scene is so big because you can easily put 30 courts under 1 roof and see thousands and thousands of kids over 4 graduating classes play 2+ games over 3 days. Watching a HS game, you only see 30? kids play 1 game over 2ish hours. I usually only go to HS games to see someone specific after the AAU season or after someone has tipped me off on a player.
…just some thoughts!
Thanks for reinforcing this from another college coach. And putting some numbers on it so people can see the math behind it.
Not every athlete’s parents can afford camps, showcases, travel teams, or recruiting websites. What does that athlete do? Self-promote? How many colleges actually consider athletes who communicate on their own via letter, email, video?
Excellent question. I am going to prepare a thoughtful post to answer this. It will go up on Tuesday, April 14. You are right about the cost being prohibitive for many families.
As an employee of a club, I would encourage players to contact clubs that they are interested in and have a discussion about the finances. They are often not as out of reach as people assume. In our club, we also provide opportunities for players to raise the money to cover the entire cost. They have to put in work and effort to make that happen, but it is possible.
I understand where you are coming from. I’m also married to a High School basketball coach. He played Div. 1 basketball and has coached 13 Div. 1 players. I know he was easily accessible to coaches during every kids recruiting experience. I also have kids playing AAU now, and I think there are a lot of dishonest, slimy coaches among these teams. There are also slimy HS coaches, but you describe Club coaches in a much better light, than I have experienced. At least on the basketball side.
Thank you. I appreciate your bringing this up.
They don’t need to go to the games anymore with the advancement of technology, when I can plug in information to a company like HUDL’s website and pull up clips and game video for all the players I want at the schools I will recruit. I can use scouting services, etc to get all the information and then line up all the video I want to watch on recruits without having to go to games.
Hmm, try to fit in seeing a player or two in an hour at a high school game, or 10-15 players in an hour at a travel ball showcase? Pretty much a no brainer if you ask me.
Agreed. Agreed. Agreed! One caveat however: from a college coach’s point of view, sometimes it is better to be seen than to see. By that I mean that if no college coaches are going to a player’s high school games, if I go, I will be separating myself from the competition. I would not be going to discover talent, merely to show that athlete & her family that I am truly interested in her as a person & in her development. This may only happen once or twice a year.
They might not come to the high school games but realistically, how many kids are going on to play Division I soccer or play professionally? Not that many. Anyone (high school or club coaches) telling a player where they can and can’t play is making a huge mistake. You will develop better players in either situation if that is where the player wants to be. Playing for an elite club team in and of itself won’t be enough to get players to the next level.
If they are that talented, they will be on the radar of many college coaches. Getting to the college level in any sport is grueling. So at the end of the day I say, let them enjoy being kids because these are experiences that once lost can’t be relived.
I appreciate your comment. This site is not about Division 1 only. I have coached at three schools, two NAIA and one Division 3. This article affects athletes of various abilities and aspirations. Playing on a club team alone is not a guarantee for players either. Players must be proactive and market themselves by reaching out to college coaches no matter where they are playing currently or what collegiate level they hope to play at in the future. Many talented players go unnoticed and never get the chance to play in college.
Also… The NCAA has prohibited coaches from coming to all-star games & banquets !
All star games and banquets are just for coaches favorites, good old boys club and politics. My son got cut from his middle school team and didn’t make the all star team as a senior in our HS district while 4 of his teammates did. He has always been a great talent and kid. He went on to play baseball in the ACC, received a tremendous degree and eventually was a high draft pick. Still playing professionally while everyone else is done. He’s asked to attend all their banquets as a speaker now. Politics. The cream always rises.
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And D1 coaches only get 50 man days off campus to watch prospective players – why waste one at an HS game where the level of play is typically lower and the number of teams limited.
The value of what’s stated above depends entirely upon the high school, club, and sport at issue. The conclusions here are not something that has universal applicability. Indeed, the opposite can be true with respect to certain top-ranked high-school girls varsity soccer teams in, say, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for example, which may have committed, well-connected coaches who truly view it as their mission to help the girls who want to play at the college level do so. In any case, high school soccer coaches are teachers who coach as a part of that teaching job. Moreover, they are at it 5 days a week, 10 months (or more) out of the year, focusing their efforts on that one varsity team. In contrast, it is the club soccer coaches who usually have day jobs, and who only coach on the side, only a few days a week, spreading their part-time effort over multiple teams for sporadic periods of time over the year.
I see your point, but let me propose this… I coach at both the HS and Club level. It takes me those 5 days, two hours per day at HS, to try to get accomplished what I can with 2-3 days, 1.5 hours per day at Club. This is mainly because the depth of talent at HS is all over the place. HS varsity team can have Freshmen to Seniors (diferent physical, mental, technical & tactical development), JV can have from 7th grade to 10th/11th (bigger delta in development). At the club level you generally coach a team on age where all the talent is as equal as possible. They are generally at the same stages of both physical, mental, and technical abilities.
At the HS level its easier for a super star player or two to run havoc on the opposition, where as at club it takes the team to be successful, and will help develop the player/team at an economical rate.
I understand your rationale as a coach as to why you do not recruit at high school games but personally I think that placing so much emphasis on club teams is hurting many youth sports.
Thanks for your comment. I don’t want to denigrate high school sports at all. I have coached both high school and club teams and enjoyed both environments for what they were. Nothing is universal. There are some amazing high school programs and some very poor club programs. I am just trying to get out there the reality that college coaches have limited time and overwhelmingly choose the club teams and showcase events. It is a far better use of their time.
Hs coaches are often not licensed in their specific sport and get first dibs at coaching jobs regardless of qualifications as per their teaching contracts. In NY anyway.. Hs sports are no longer where the talent is developed . It’s a fact . I don’t think the writer intended to put down Hs sports.
I have been saying this for years and have basically created a war in my area with the high school coaches which are my peers. Many are so caught up with my team my way and their kids suffer because they don’t experience what you talk about in your article. One coach has even went as far as to threaten his athletes with retaliation if the kid trains with our organization. It’s a sad state and glad you published this article.
Thank you. It is too bad we sometimes all get so caught up in our own world that we forget what is best for each individual player.
Many college coaches also cannot scout at high school games because the high school and college seasons are the same. (Some have told me, I can’t travel or go to high school softball games, because I am coaching and traveling with our college softball team.)
You are correct. Excellent point. This is another reason high school athletics are not being watched by colleges.
Fulfilling your academic commitment while playing sports is an important dynamic if you want to be a college athlete. Articles like this are killing high school programs as players see no value in school ball. I understand why you do not come but a great player that cannot succeed academically will do you no good in college. It would be nice if you made that point matter in one of your articles.
Decent size Florida H.S. coach at a school that is just awful at almost every sport…we can’t even get the local paper to come out to games nevermind a scout, but I do have a player (Junior) who has real potential to play at next level. Family just can’t afford the showcase scene (divorced single parent). Aside from a recruiting video what else can I do for her to get her noticed?
Thank you for the great question. There are a lot of great athletes who cannot afford the clubs and showcases.
Let me assure you there is hope. I always had a couple of those gems on my college teams. First, you need to convince your player and her family that she cannot just play well and hope someone will notice.
The key is for her and her family to be proactive with the college search. She will not be seen, so she needs to begin researching colleges and reaching out to college coaches. College coaches are not concerned with where the talent comes from. If she can play, and puts in the hard work of promoting herself, she will find a good fit. I would encourage you to read a few of my articles and pass them on to her family as well.
An Athletes Simple Start to a College Search
First Contact with a College Coach
College Sports Camps
Grades Affect College Scholarships
Any of the great interviews with coaches
My book, The Recruiting Code, is another option. It is designed to walk high school athletes and their families through how to navigate the recruiting process.
A skills video is a great first step. Almost all visual scouting occurs online now via YouTube. A couple of skills videos per year and game highlight reels to share with coaches.
Agreed. College coaches are able to watch videos via YouTube without any hassle. With this, DVD’s are quickly becoming a thing of the past. A YouTube link is the simplest form for both players to upload and coaches to view. Send an email with the link to your video.
I have made quite a few custom recruiting/skills videos for kids and it has been a huge asset to them and getting themselves seen. There are some services out there that are very expensive that are really not worth the money, but if you are active and can get the youtube link to the right people and if the video is shot right, you can definitely get a scholarship somewhere…
What bothers me about articles like this is that everything is generalised as to how the world works. In my 30 years of coaching I have coached club, ODP, and coach at a large 6A school as well as an assistant men’s college coach. I also am in my 30th year as a teacher. I know just about every college coach worth their salt in our region. I call them, email them and meet them at various camps on a regular basis. Since 2002 I have had 63 boys secure a soccer scholarship at many different collegiate levels. I have had three all-Americans- two that have played professionally and one that has played in Europe. Of those 63 scholarships only three were obtained they thier scholarships through their foreign born club coaches. What I have found to be the most difficult thing about working with college coaches is that many times they are young and just out of some GA program or they are a foreign coach that do not understand the dynamics of high school athletics or the importance they play in our culture. Many believe that soccer in the US should be played just like it is played in England or Europe. The fact is that there are more kids playing high school soccer then club because the club game has evolved into a money making machine for clubs and coaches. If you are a college coach – and find little value in high school sports – then you are grossly misinformed.
Thanks Tom. I actually agree with most of what you say. I am not intending to diminish high school coaches or programs. My career is much like yours, in all realms of coaching, though you have me beat by 8 years. The article, you correctly state, is a generalization. There are some high schools and high school coaches who are exceptions to the placement of student athletes to college programs. My point, as you allude to, is college coaches are focus their recruiting efforts on clubs and showcase events, not at high school games.
Having been a high school coach and knowing many fantastic high school coaches, I have the utmost respect for high school coaches and the efforts they put in.
Thanks for taking the time to provide a thoughtful comment and add to the discussion.
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“They are teachers who coach on the side.”
In Texas, they are coaches who teach on the side. Priorities!
Great comment. Yes, I have seen that as well.
If your son is good enough they will find him.
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