by Catharine Aradi

When it comes to recruiting, many families (and players) often make the mistake of assuming certain things are true. Then when their college search gets stalled or derailed, they are confused and upset. What I hear most frequently is one version or another of this simple phrase, "It's not fair!" Right there is where the problem begins. People too often assume that because they think something should be a certain way, it will be. Unfortunately, that's rarely the case. You might be lucky and find this out early enough to change your perspective. Or you might not accept it out until it's too late.

One of my goals as a recruiting consultant is to help families approach the college search from the perspective that is most likely to get them the results they want. And that means accepting right from the beginning that this process is likely to be unfair. While it may be true that their athlete is very talented, has terrific competitive experience, is a good student and a wonderful human being, none of those things guarantees recruitment.

The above qualities may factor into her recruitment, but unfortunately, they don't guarantee that things will work out fairly or logically. The simple truth is that there are some important factors in the recruiting equation that parents can control...and some that they can't. If you understand this and work your tail off to stay of top of the things you can control, then you may be able to lessen the effect of those things you can't control. For example, your athlete can control her grades (at least to the extent that she gets the best grades she's capable of getting.) The athlete can determine how hard she works to make the most of her athletic ability---she can choose to go hang out with her friends rather than putting in extra time at the batting cages or on the mound. She can choose to play a tough competitive schedule, and she can decide how much she hustles.

To some extent, the athlete may be able to control how she performs under pressure. Parents or coaches may be able to help by encouraging the practice and drills that build confidence and help her succeed. But if she's only successful when no one is watching or when she's playing against weaker competition, and can't produce when it counts---e.g., when coaches are there to watch her---fair or not, she may have trouble convincing those coaches that she can play for them.

Families can control how well they market their player, and they can focus on the types of programs where she's most likely to be successful because these are the teams that are most likely to recruit her. But parents can moan and groan until they're blue in the face and it's not going to change the mind of a coach who just doesn't see what they see when looking at this athlete.

Parents can't control whether or not college coaches make recruiting mistakes. But they can help their college-bound player avoid making college search mistakes if they work from the correct premise. Assume that this process may not be fair, that it may be confusing and that you're not going to change the process. All you can change is your approach to it. But changing your attitude may give your athlete an edge that players who are more experienced or even more talented may lack!