Why young athletes are not recruited

Sep 08, 2016

Young athletes often are under-recruited for very simple reasons.

The next time you go to a high school, travel or club game, look around. You will notice a number of parents with puzzled expressions. The looks may be subtle, but they are unmistakably there.

The parents are in disbelief.  They cannot understand why their athlete is being overlooked by college coaches. Their kid is just as talented as all the others being recruited, but he has not been contacted or scouted.

What’s up with that?

At National Scouting Report, we’ve been scouting for 36 years. Our on-the-ground scouts are fanned out across America and in a number of foreign countries. We see those dumbfounded expressions every day.

Most parents went through high school in a different era.  Many did not play sports when club and travel teams existed, at least not to today’s extent. In their time, it was true that if you were good enough, college coaches would come calling. Not today.

Coaches no longer have to go to youth games to see the best players. Now, they can save their road trips for big, off-season tournaments, showcases, camps and combines. That is where most athletes are evaluated.

For parents clinging to old ways, it is their kids who suffer from their antiquated mindsets.

Modern events are typically so expansive that an athlete can be easily bypassed. University coaches go to events to see the few athletes they already know about from reputable sources or fellow coaches. Those prospects are the ones they are there to assess. Discovering talent is all but obsolete in today’s recruiting environment.

That said, the reality is that coaches take only cursory glances at athletes who run contrary to their basic criteria. There are several reasons coaches skip from one athlete to another without as much as a nod of acknowledgement.

Here are the five biggest reasons good athletes are under-recruited:

  1. Coaches don’t know about them. Even if an athlete happens to do something exceptional, it’s unlikely a coach will stop and explore him or her further. Timing is everything in recruiting. Coaches often are hesitant to stop evaluating a known prospect to begin evaluating an unknown one.
  2. Their grades are insufficient. After ability, grades are the next hurdle a prospect must successfully cross. If a kid’s grades are below what the coach’s school will accept, the coach knows there are plenty of others who are academically qualified.
  3. Their attitudes are poor. A thrown bat or racket, an argument with a teammate or coach, a childish gesture or a glum expression can doom a good athlete’s chances to win over a coach.  There simply are too many athletes with good attitudes to waste time on a malcontent.
  4. They are not as good as they think. A cocky athlete who can’t back it up with consistent good performances has no value to a college coach.  Coaches would prefer to have a team full of confident, selfless kids than one or two whose heads are too big to fit into the locker room.
  5. The parents’ are difficult. Coaches don’t like to deal with parents who are overly demanding, whose behavior could embarrass the program and whose never-ending criticisms of the coach could undermine the staff and team.