Being a strength and conditioning coach for the past 8 years, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of high school athletes of all levels and sports. From my perspective, the goal working with each athlete coming through the doors of Fitness Quest 10 is to improve each athlete’s athleticism by working on their speed, strength, agility, etc. Additionally, I expose them to life skills to help them become better people on and off the field. We achieve this at the same time minimizing risk of injury and provide a positive environment where they can flourish.
From the parents’ perspective, they bring their child into our doors with the hope of not only having their child playing on the varsity team but ultimately earn a scholarship to a Division 1 school. I have had the pleasure and been blessed in working with many athletes who have earned a scholarship to play a college sport. In reviewing my athletes who went on to play sports at a college level, there were some common themes among them that I strongly aided in their opportunity to play at the next level. In this article I will share these themes and how they can increase the probability of putting your child in a position to earn a scholarship to play a college sport.
1. Many colleges to choose from other than Division 1: Before I get into commonalities among my college athletes, I must address something first: when parents and their children have aspirations to earn a college scholarship, they only focus their attention on the Division 1 level. There is nothing wrong with having these aspirations but your focus should not be limited to Division 1 sports. For one, the odds are extremely low for an athlete to play at the Division 1 level. It is just a simple numbers game. However, including Division 2, 3 and NAIA schools expands the college pool greatly.
Additionally, many of these schools have solid programs and the competition is still very good. Remember, if your child can go to a school and have their education paid for, this is a huge benefit. Many smaller schools have a great curriculum and often times the college experience is better for the child because more attention is devoted to them (smaller teacher-to-student ratio). Moral of the story: increase your odds for your child to earn a college scholarship by looking at all divisions.
2. Play multiple sports: There are messages I constantly preach as a strength coach; one message is encouraging kids to play multiple sports growing up. Here is a simple formula: Increased athleticism = Increased performance potential = Increased % playing college sports. A great way to improve on your athleticism is by playing multiple sports. Exposing the body to different biomechanical demands from different sports allows an athlete to work in different planes and different levels. 95% of all my athletes who played at the college level grew up playing multiple sports. There is enough empirical data to suggest multiple sport athletes are usually the most athletic and most successful at their respective sport
3. Participate in a strength and conditioning program: Speaking of increasing athleticism, another way to achieve this is by engaging in some form of strength and conditioning program. Young children who are exposed to a strength coach are more likely to reach their athletic potential (due to proper development of the body) and less likely to endure an acute or chronic injury. Moreover, the majority of colleges have their athletes participate in a strength and conditioning program. Therefore, any athlete who trains during their junior high and high school years, will be prepared to endure the potential rigors of any strength and conditioning program they are exposed to in college.
The focus on any strength and conditioning program should be improving work capacity, overall athleticism by working on speed, agility, strength, flexibility and mobility all while decreasing the risk of injury. The program does not need to be complex. Mastery of basic fundamental movement patterns will go a long way towards improving athleticism.
4. Develop good habits: This is often the toughest one to get kids to buy into but once they do, they understand the importance. I tell parents and athletes all the time the little things separate good from great. What do I mean by ” little?” Things such as developing good eating habits, proper hydration and taking care of one’s body through sleep and foam rolling all aid in optimal performance. The quicker a young athlete is able to work and develop these habits, the better off they are going to be as they will have a leg up on the competition.
5. THEY WANT IT: This is the most important point of my article. The desire to earn a scholarship and play at the college level has to come intrinsically. The athlete HAS to want to do this because there is a lot of time, money, energy and sacrifice that goes into earning a scholarship. Additionally, being a student-athlete at any level of college takes a lot of commitment just to keep that scholarship. Athletic scholarships are not given but earned. Therefore, the motivation can’t come from the parents.
I have seen cases where the parents want the scholarship more than the kids. The ultimate outcome is either the kid does not earn a scholarship because of the pressure or if do they, they lose it during college because they don’t have enough intrinsic motivation to stay committed. If you see your child having a burning desire to play at the next level, then as parents, our responsibility is to do everything in our power and control to cultivate that burning desire.
Sports in general is a great thing for kids. It offers so many life lessons and I advocate that all children be exposed to multiple sports growing up. If a kid has been blessed with certain athletic talents that puts them in a position of earning a college scholarship, the above things can help increase the probability of them fulfilling their dream. At the end of the day, sports, no matter what level, needs to be about FUN!!!!
Personal Trainer & Director of Athletics
Fitness Quest 10