Sports scholarships are some of the hardest to get, especially for popular sports like basketball and football. That’s why students who hope to go to college on a sports scholarship need to start working towards getting one very early on in their high school careers – and if your child hopes to someday have a post-collegiate professional career in sports, he or she really needs to buckle down now in terms of advanced athletics training.
You and your child entering high school will spend plenty of time over the next four years planning his or her future. For your child, the planning will continue in college and beyond. A sports scholarship can help your child prepare for a career and enter adult life without the crushing burden of student loan debt.
If your child can choose a sport early, make academic training a priority, network with college coaches, work hard at academics, and find the right fit on a collegiate team, he or she may just have a shot at a free ride to college – and maybe a glamorous, lucrative athletics career after graduation.
1. Focus on Your Chosen Sport from Freshman Year
Pickings are slim and competition is high for college sports scholarships, and college recruiters are interested in seeing how young athletes develop over multiple years of their sports careers. That’s why it’s so important for student athletes to choose a specialty sport early. If your child wants to pursue a sports scholarship to college, encourage him or her to focus on building skills in a specialty sport as early as freshman year.
This will give your child ample time to develop his or her athletic skills and nurture a deep commitment to the craft of practicing a specialty sport well. It will also give your kid plenty of opportunities to be spotted by college sports recruiters, hone his or her skills, and perhaps join a travel team or compete in national or regional tournaments. All of this will help your child maximize his or her opportunities to showcase the skills.
2. Attend a Sports Academy
If your child really wants to boost his or her chances at getting a sports scholarship, and perhaps a shot at a professional career after college, he or she should seriously consider attending a sports academy.
Most sports academies are boarding schools where students get the chance to receive advanced athletic training in a chosen sport. In the classroom, they’ll receive a rigorous traditional education, as well as a comprehensive education in sports psychology, nutrition, and fitness.
A sports academy education also provides students with networking opportunities, both via their coaches and teachers and via the relationships they’ll form with other students, who may themselves go on to professional athletics careers or careers adjacent to professional athletes.
Attending a sports academy can be especially beneficial for students who want to earn a scholarship to play a popular sport, like basketball or football. Attending a sports academy for basketball, for example, can really give your student an academic and athletic advantage over the fierce competition for scholarships in this sport.
3. Connect with Coaches
It won’t matter how driven, talented, and skilled your student is if college coaches don’t know his or her name. Encourage your child to get noticed by networking with college coaches. If your child is interested in specific schools, he or she can reach out to the coaches of those teams via email with an introduction that includes his or her positions, stats, and maybe some video highlights of his or her game.
Include information on your child’s GPA, standardized test scores, and transcripts. When coaches respond, answer them in a timely manner, but be respectful of the coach’s time and follow the NCAA recruiting rules.
4. Keep Your Grades Up
College coaches aren’t just looking for great athletes; they’re also looking for great students. NCAA rules establish that athletes must maintain a certain GPA in order to play, and often, sports scholarships come with a GPA requirement, too. If your student comes up against an equally skilled athlete for the same spot on a team, the student with the best grades will get the spot, and the scholarship.
5. Find the Right School and Team for You
Scholarship money is an important consideration when it comes to choosing a college and a team, but it’s not the only one. It’s important for your student to choose a college where they’ll be happy and a team that suits his or her personality in terms of culture. Your child is going to school to develop and grow as a person, and he or she should choose the school and team that will best help with that, even if it’s not the one that offers the most money.
Things like distance from home, the climate in the region, the community the school is located in, the team culture, and the size of the program can all influence how well your student fits with the school and team. Encourage him or her to visit schools and get to know some potential future team members before narrowing down his or her choices based on some of the above criteria.
It’s not easy to get a sports scholarship, but the hard work can be well worth the huge tuition savings. Not to mention, playing college sports can help your child grow as a person and an athlete, forge lifelong friendships, and even lead to a professional career in sports. With some careful planning and a lot of dedication to his or her sport, your child could pay for his or her own education – and that’s just the beginning of all that is to come.
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