Although the question pertains to hockey, the answer (written by Mike Boyle) applies to any sport for high school athletes striving for a College scholarship.
Question: I’m writing because I have a friend who’s son is an up and coming hockey player. He is going into his sophomore year of high school. He played as a freshman on the varsity team. He’s a great young man and is very skilled player. His mom asked me to help them out with what he needs to do to attract colleges.
Based on your experience with Boston University hockey team do you have any suggestions on what colleges are/would be looking for and what if any information we can send to schools on his behalf. If you have any contacts that we could speak with that would be great.
Thanks for your help!
Answer: A question like yours actually merits a thoughtful answer. The process of being “noticed” by schools is simple. Get better, continue to improve. Many parents are under the impression that exposure to coaches and scouts is the problem. In reality, there are millions of dollars a year being spent on finding the best players. Parents want to believe that if they can simply get the right person to see their son or daughter that the process can in some way be expedited. They take an adult view. Things like connections and introductions come into play. Highlight films are made, it’s almost like a marketing campaign. However the problem is it is a marketing campaign for an often unfinished and unproven product. The key is to make sure the product (the player) is solid, not that the marketing is in place.
The point that your friend’s son is at is also the point that the wheels usually fall off. Right now your friend’s son is a good player on an average team.
The question is “what’s the next step”?
For many parents the next step is the fatal mistake of the “summer exposure tour”. This usually involves getting sucked into every invitation only, super select camp or tournament they can find. In this case a young kid with potential is taken off the fast track and his development is stalled as he searches for exposure. The truth is the summer is the time to get off the ice and train to get better. The only kids who are getting scholarship offers as sophomores are the few exceptions to the rule. If this kid was one he would already know. The key now is to keep the nose to the grindstone and continue to get better both from a hockey perspective and a physical perspective.
The vast majority of players going into college are not 18 year old high school graduates but, twenty year olds with 2 years of junior hockey under their belt. The road to a scholarship is a long slow grind. I wrote an article called Training is Like Farming back in 2009.
This is an excerpt:
I think I remember Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People making reference to what he called “the law of the farm”. The reference was meant to show that most of the truly good things in life take time and can’t be forced. Covey described the process of farming and alluded to how it requires patience and diligence to grow crops properly. In addition farming requires belief in the system. The farmer must believe that all the hard work will yield an eventual long-term result.
The concept has always stuck with me. The process of developing an athlete at any age is much like farming or, like planting a lawn. There are no immediate results just as there are no immediate results from farming. The process requires even more patience. First, the seeds must be planted. Then fertilizer (nutrition) and water must be applied consistently. Only the correct amounts cause proper growth. Overfeeding can cause problems, as can under-feeding. If I sit and wait for my lawn to sprout, I feel many of the same frustrations of the parent. When will I see results? How come nothing is happening? All this work and nothing. The key is to not quit. Have faith in the process. Continue to add water and wait. Farming and athlete development are eerily similar. Years may pass with no real notice. Suddenly coaches begin to call. Your reaction might be “it’ s about time someone noticed”. Much like the first blades of grass poking through the ground, you begin to see success. You begin to experience positive feedback.
When my friends or clients talk to me about their frustration with the process I always bring up the farm analogy. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and instant results. This is why the farm analogy can be both informative and comforting. Development must be approached over a period of weeks and months, not days. The reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy way, no magic plan, no secret formula. There is only the law of the farm. You will reap what you sow. In reality you will reap what you sow and care for. If you are consistent and diligent you will eventually see results
The law of the farm.
Plant the seeds
Feed and water properly
Wait for results, they will happen, not in days but in weeks and months.
Bottom line. Get him involved in a good strength program. Avoid the “go to another tournament or camp every weekend of the summer to get seen” thing and work on getting better. Slow and steady wins the race. Most parents lose it right at the wrong time and run of in the wrong direction. Tell them not ask anyone for advice who hasn’t developed 100’s of college players. I have. As I said, slow and steady wins the race.
About the author
Mike Boyle is the creator of www.FunctionalStrengthCoach4.com