Scroll down to the end of the article to play the Podcast. Alternatively, you can download the MP3 to your phone or laptop.
If you missed Ryan Banta’s last two videos & presentation, go to Long-to-Short or Short-to-Long? Comparing & Contrasting Different Training Models AND Defining the 100m Dash – Speed Development, Explosion, Acceleration, Max Velocity, & Speed Endurance. Both are must watch presentations.
If you missed the excerpt from the upcoming book The Sprinters Compendium, here is the link to the Free Chapter. (over 6000 people have downloaded this already)
Other excerpts of the book can be found here on this Blog:
14 Tapering Strategies to Bring Speed Athletes to Peak Cycle AND Should Coaches Practice Sports Psychology?
Click here for other articles from Coach Ryan Banta. (highly recommended)
Ultimate Recruiting Guide for High School Athletes
A long time ago I had dreams of running in the Olympics. I badly wanted to prove everyone wrong and run at the highest level. As fate would have it I tore my hamstring repeatedly and my career as an athlete would not materialize like I wanted. I went to college and spent more time hurt then healthy. Through it all I learned what it felt like to be the fastest kid on the block and what it felt like to be an injured scrub. My experience as an athlete gave me a unique perspective as a coach. No matter an athlete’s talent level I had been in their shoes at some point. Another factor that helped my coaching is my demons. Be thankful for your past demons as they become your greatest teachers. I have been knocked down, laughed at, and even called a charlatan. As a young person I was a sensitive kid and that led to a lot of school yard fights. As scaring as this can be in a young person’s life I was lucky to have great parents and friends. These two positive influences allowed me to keep things in perspective for what I wanted to do with my life.
I hoped to honor these positive influences as a coach and as a teacher by trying to change young people’s lives for the better. Kids ask me all the time “coach, what can I give you for all you have done for me over the years?” I just quickly respond “A college t-shirt.” Why a t-shirt? It is always nice to have more clothing to train in but more importantly a t-shirt gives me a chance to brag about my athletes. I cannot tell you how many people have started a conversation because I was wearing one of the t-shirts. These conversations allow you to be instantly connected with people you would have never met otherwise. Additionally, these t-shirts create a chance for me to share a wonderful story about young people who gave their heart to a school, program, and sport. A major goal in my life as an educator and coach is to have so many t-shirts I need a new house! I hope as time moves forward those young people will buy me a meal, a drink, or heck… sing karaoke with me. Years into the future, when my time on this planet is over I want the young people who I have influenced to share great stories over my casket. Maybe they will have a couple of these t-shirts on. Maybe I will take a few in my casket with me. It would be fun to brag in heaven. Remember you never know when the day comes you can change a life forever.
For stories like this about the coaching track and field or how to coach sprinters you can pick up my book titled the Sprinter’s Compendium now here for the Kindle version http://amzn.to/2ySP8cA or here for paperback version http://amzn.to/2CyMuLD
Five Ways to Get Your Athlete into College
As a coach one of the things I am so proud of is the 70 plus athletes I have worked with who have gone on to compete at the next level. The 2017-2018 campaign set a high water mark in our program’s history with twelve of my athletes now competing at the college level simultaneously. Not bad for a medium sized school previously not known for its physical prowess. Enclosed below I have created a guide to help get your athletes to the next level.
1. Start the conversation early
Coaches need to start the conversation early with your athletes. I rarely discuss college with a freshman until after the season is complete. I will pose the question. if the athlete has the ability and work ethic that matches previous college athletes I have mentored. “Have you ever considered doing track and field in college?” Remember this is not a time for a hard sell as you don’t want to scare the kid. The commitment it takes to be a college athlete may seem daunting to athletes who are immature or track and field refugees. Refugees are athletes who have come to track to help prepare them for another sport, cut from their first choice, convinced by a friend to join the team, etc. However, don’t be afraid to ask the kids what they want to do when they grow up. Gathering this intelligence allows the coach to craft a path to get athletes to see their future as a track athlete and how it can fit into their life as they grow up. Starting the conversation early allows the coach to keep the talk of college as a slow burn. Having this conversation is important because it can help keep athletes in track all four years who would otherwise give up after a season or two. Additionally, a new door to a previously unseen athletic future has been cracked open revealing the possibility of becoming a college track & field athlete.
2. Realistic Placement
After the initial conversation I sit down with the athlete before, after, or at ac lab during the school day to discuss the colleges or universities my athletes might be interested in attending. It is important to ask them why they want to go to these schools. The next step is to help guide the athlete to which of those schools are realistic and provide other good options. When you guide the athlete as the coach you need to know what grades, cost, and performances are required for an athlete to find a home at a school. It is also wise to know what schools take walk-on athletes, and the performances needed for scholarships. Also, as a coach you need to be aware of who has the best programs in NCAA (Division I, II, and III), NAIA, and junior college. Best way to familiarize you and your athletes with these schools is to use the rankings provided at www.ustfccca.org.
3. Athletes need to do some foot work
Once the kids have a list of qualities they are looking for in a school and I have narrowed down the realistic options it is time for the student athlete to do some work. First I ask the athlete to create a list of five dream schools and five backups. These choices should be based on five things: academic program, track & field program, location, cost, and atmosphere. Once the list has been created the athlete should then send each coach a letter and athletic resume. The letter should discuss in detail why they are interested in the school, who they are as an athlete, and a few questions for the coaches to answer about the program. These questions should be about team chemistry, coaching philosophy, and what the coach thinks are their strengths. The resume should include ACT, cumulative GPA, stats for track & field, other athletic experiences, and reliable contact information. With permission I enclosed below a great e-mail/letter my athlete wrote to contact her dream schools. I removed some information for privacy sake.
Dear University of _________ coaching staff,
My name is M————- and I am from St. Louis, Missouri where I am a Junior at Parkway Central High School. I am writing to express my interest in continuing my academic and athletic careers at the University of ———-
I currently hold personal records of —- in the 5k for cross country and —- in the mile, both of which were achieved this fall. I have dropped over 5 minutes in my 5k from freshman year, and I have dropped from a —- freshman year mile to a —- in the fall of my junior year. I am also currently planning to PR in the 3200 this coming track season, as well as keep dropping times on my mile and 5k. I am a hard worker with a lot of grit who plans to continue to improve, and it is because of that attitude, and my commitment to the team, that I was named Varsity Cross Country and Track Captain this year. I love fostering a rich team culture as a leader, as well as providing an example for younger runners.
I am equally committed to my academic career, and in college I am interested in majoring in Linguistics, which ———– both offers and excels in. I have maintained a — GPA while taking honors and AP classes since my Freshman year. These include: English, History and Government, Biology, Chemistry, and Spanish. My goal score for the ACT is a —. Additionally, I am a member of the National English Honors Society, Quill and Scroll (the journalism honors society), and I am the news ——- for the Parkway Central Corral newspaper. I have achieved all of this while balancing a job as well. I work at S——- (a bakery and cupcake decorating store), so I am very good at time management and have gained valuable experience in engaging with the public.
I have a few questions regarding the University of ———. What are the walk-on standards for the cross country and track teams? What are the scholarship standards? What can you tell me about the team culture? Do athletes often graduate in four years, and what is the student athlete graduation rate? Is there athlete-specific housing or benefits?
I would love to be a part of the ———- team in 2019, and if there are any questions that you have in deciding whether I might be a good fit for your program, you can contact me or my coach, Ryan Banta, at ———— or ———–@parkwayschools.net. I look forward to speaking with you, and possibly visiting, in the near future.
Thank you very much for your time.
— I—- W—, Ballwin, MO 63011
Phone: (314) 412——-
4. The footwork a coach should do
Once the schools have been chosen and letters have been sent it is important to follow up with the colleges the athlete has contacted. Always do your best to focus on their strengths and speak in a positive light about the athlete. Highlight what makes them such a pleasure to work with throughout your time together. Character is a huge thing college coaches want to hear about when it comes to athletes that qualify to be a part of their program. Times say a lot about their ability or potential but says nothing about the working relationship you had with them as a student athlete. It is important to be kind but honest. High school coaches all want their athletes to continue to train and compete as it speaks volumes about our programs. However, you don’t want to put yourself to far out for a kid and have them not live up to lofty expectations.
Worst thing that can happen for a coach in this process is to look dishonest because in the future you may have another kid that wants to go to that college coach’s school. Typically, as we get older coaches are better adept to speak honestly about an athlete to help them into college. We don’t want to make outlandish claims that no athlete can live up to and ruin a professional relationship. Give the coach sometime to respond to you and the athlete before you contact them again. Certainly, you don’t want to be the reason why a coach passes on an athlete. However, if the coach doesn’t communicate in a few weeks it will be time to reach out to help your athlete select or commit to a college.
Any time a coach receives correspondence from college pass it on to the athlete because you should never assume the track & field athlete wouldn’t want to go to the school. Track & field coaches are nomads changing schools often. Due to their nomadic nature it is important for the high school coach to pass along all e-mails, letters, and social media messages to their high school athletes. A coach might not currently be at the athlete’s school of choice but they could eventually end up there. It is a good strategy to encourage athletes to complete all questioners to their best of their abilities until they start to narrow their choices down in the beginning of their senior year.
5. Be aware
When getting recruited the parents should never do the recruiting for their kids. That is a big turn off as college athletes need to be adults along with being self-starters. Having a reputation as the next crazy track parent is not a good idea. Let the athlete and coach handle the process.
Track & field is not football. Very rarely do track programs offer a full ride. A fully funded DI football has 80 scholarships. In comparison a men’s college track team might have 12 scholarships to be split over dozens of events. College track coaches have little time because most programs participate in cross country, indoor, and outdoor track. The busy schedule makes it nearly impossible for coaches to do home or event in school visits.
Personal contacts from college coaches are very limited until July 1st of the athlete’s senior year. If the athlete contacts the college coach before that date the college staff cannot call the high school athlete back. Considering this it is best for the athlete to set up a schedule time to talk on the phone. As with other aspects of recruiting a coach who is interested will set up time to talk with the potential recruit. If a coaches does contact the athlete July 1st they likely want them in the program.
Coach’s offer doesn’t mean the offer will stay. Keeping the line of communication open.
An offer is conditional until the letter of intent is signed. Many athletes have lost scholarships because they waited for the big offer to come in and maybe the first offer turned out to be the best. Athletes should not commit unless they are really sure that is the school they want to go.
If coaches and athletes want more on the topic of college recruitment soon a new book is coming soon. The book titled Run, Jump & Throw: How to Get Recruited for College Track & Field and Cross Country by Vince Bingham. Vince is a MTCCCA Hall of Fame coach and a master recruiter.
This book was written for parents and high school students who want to earn scholarships for Track & Field and Cross Country. It is a step-by-step guide and peek behind the curtain of collegiate recruiting. Click here to preorder http://amzn.to/2B8yDz7 (kindle version only)
- Discover the insider secrets of the college recruiting game!
- Learn to start a bidding war which leads to more, and better scholarship offers!
- Know the most common mistakes and how to avoid them during the recruiting process.
- Discover the best ways to reach out to coaches who haven’t reached out first.
- Know what to say when coaches ask what other schools are being considered.
- Understand what coaches REALLY want to know and why they are asking specific questions.
- Find out what intangibles matter to coaches and how they evaluate them in a recruit.
- Discover the criteria by which coaches evaluate talent and base their scholarship offers.