How an Injured Athlete Can Still Manage the College Recruiting Process Successfully

Honesty is the best policy when discussing injuries with prospective college coaches during the recruiting process.

Injury is an inherent part of any athletic endeavor and no one understands this better than college coaches. There are many prospects and families who hedge when bringing up the topic of injury while engaged in the college recruiting process, fearing that a coach will see this as a weakness, thereby diminishing recruiting opportunities.

Coaches constantly look for accurate and honest information from prospective student-athletes and in the case of the injured prospect, the manner they effectively communicate their status with college coaches is crucial.

Sports injuries occur on various levels, and like it or not, it comes with the territory. Acute injuries occur suddenly when training. Chronic injuries on the other hand, result after prolonged training over many years. If an athlete aspires to compete at the highest level, sprains, strains, bangs and dings will unfortunately factor into the athletic quest equation.

A lot of families see injury as a potential roadblock and something they do not feel comfortable sharing with college coaches. They fear the injury could be interpreted as a red flag that could jeopardize their son's or daughter's position on the active recruiting chart. This, in most cases, is far from accurate.

College coaches are charged by their sports administration to drive their programs to high levels, year in and year out. Their path to success is a simple formula of combining sound planning with the right athletes, while engaging in effective, high level training. A team is as strong as its weakest link, and each year college coaches must run their team at the highest level while sidestepping major injury.

This is a daunting task, and families who realize that the injury rate for college athletes typically occurs at a higher rate compared to high school and club sports participants, will soon reach a comfort level when taking an honest and proactive approach to communicating their position.

An important objective in the college recruiting process is to offer coaches every opportunity to evaluate the prospect. Basically, college coaches build an information base with prospects on 3 levels:

  • Athleticism
  • Academic Performance
  • Character.

Utilizing unique tools in your recruiting arsenal to separate yourself from the rest of the pack sometimes takes courage. Injury is something none of us wants to experience but sharing this information with the coaches gives you the opportunity to present yourself as an honest broker and gives you a chance to tell your distinctive story.

Prospects and families should always look for "personal filters" when navigating the college search. Unique characteristics that help distinguish one prospect from the next is a critical evaluation tactic every coach practices, and assisting in the process will help you garner respect. Injury is a natural consequence of high intensity physical activity and coaches desperately want to help their athletes recover and return to active participation safely and quickly. They look to one's "call to action" and the dedicated effort to return to full strength as a measure to their character.

You can attempt to hide your injury and make every effort to deflect communication to different areas of recruiting, or you can take the high road and make an honest effort in being candid about your true physical readiness.

Coaches have an innate ability to get to what is "real" about every student-athlete they recruit and determine how they are doing (academically, athletically and personally). Eventually, they will find a way to extract information; you can bet the farm on it.

Injured Track Girl

The prospects who present themselves at face value to college coaches accomplish two important tasks. 1) They convince coaches that they embrace an honest approach and 2) uncover grey areas of evaluation that could be a game-changer at the conclusion of the recruiting process.

College recruiting is both exciting and daunting. It requires a disciplined, dedicated and honest approach, especially when it pertains to the physical health of the prospect. Practicing clear, honest and accurate communication to the nature of your injury and the treatment you are pursuing will reap respect and help build mutually strong and respectful relationships with college coaches to identify and secure the ideal college match.


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