Psst . . . The #1 requirement essential to your child receiving a college scholarship is found in this article!
If you have visited Gym Gab before, or subscribe to Gym Gab emails, you know I have an obsession with the Athlete Triangle.
Well, here I go again . . . it takes all three members of the triangle (coach, parent, athlete) to maximize the college recruiting process!
Willing, but Where the Heck should I Start?
So, what if you’re the parent in this Athlete Triangle and you don’t know what to do!?!? A little information goes a long way . . .
This post is #1 in a 5 part series about the Gymnastics College Recruiting process. Yeah, there really is that much to GAB about!
- Eight Mistakes that Hinder your Child’s Recruiting Opportunities -> YOU ARE HERE
- Preparing for College Gymnastics; What to Do and When to Start – Coming Soon
- How to Know if a College is Interested in Your Gymnast – Coming Soon
- Making the Final Decision; Things your child should consider – Coming Soon
- Advice from Top NCAA Gymnastics Programs – Coming Soon
Let’s start by addressing the ELEPHANT in the room. . . even if you follow all the tips in this 5 post series, your child may still NOT receive a college scholarship. I know. It’s hard to swallow. I like guarantees as much as the next person, but the reality is that less than 2% of all high school athletes are awarded some form of athletic scholarship to compete in college.
The good news? Your child doesn’t need an athletic scholarship for her gymnastics career to be a success!
You know all that time and money you’re spending on gymnastics? It’s going towards a good cause; actually a great cause. It’s going toward something even BETTER than a college scholarship. It’s going toward the development of a capable, confident, accountable, courageous, passionate, goal setting, problem-solving, schedule-managing adult. Or at least with the right approach it will be!
But what if a college athletic experience is a priority of your capable, confident, goal-setting ATHLETE?
Well then, let’s address 7 well-intended mistakes and how avoiding them can maximize your gymnast’s opportunities of a college scholarship.
Post #1: Eight MISTAKES that HINDER your child’s opportunity for a College Gymnastics Career.
Expecting a scholarship
If the money you spend on gymnastics comes with a contingency of an athletic scholarship, the expectation will guarantee nothing more than undue pressure. As research shows, injury, stress, and pressure are all the greatest contributors to early dropout in sports.*
To avoid burnout, replace the expectation of a college scholarship with relentless support that fosters a long-term love for the sport, because . . .
The #1 requirement essential to your daughter competing in College Gymnastics, is sticking with the sport through her senior year! There it is folks.
With that being said, gymnastics isn’t a life-long love for every little girl. It’s okay if your athlete decides to retire before her senior year, but hopefully burnout is not the culprit.
On to the next stumbling block . . .
Of course it would be great if your child competed for your Alma Mater, the university you have season tickets to, or the college her cousin attends, but imposing a “chosen” university ignores several important factors:
- Your child’s skill level.
- Your child’s academic abilities.
- The number of scholarship spots available your child’s graduating year.
- The number of walk-on spots offered at the university.
Keep an open mind. Consider multiple universities and possibilities. More advice on things to consider when making the final decision are found in post #4: Making the final decision; what to consider.
Ignoring the importance of health
Your child only gets one body and colleges are serious about recruiting healthy ones. That means proper nutrition, rest, and injury rehab are crucial in the recruiting process.
Nutritious meal prep and consistent sleep habits are valuable skills for any Freshman entering college; but especially useful for athletes. But don’t wait until your child’s Senior year to introduce these tools, start healthy habits now! There are many great resources available online. Here are two that have caught my eye, both offered in kindle and hardcopy editions:
If your child gets hurt, communicate honestly with college coaches and share your proactive plans for rehab and care. Colleges prefer a missed meet or two (or season) in the name of proper rehab.
Also did you know that proper sleep and nutrition actually accelerate the healing process?
Limiting Competition Experience
As stated, injury is a valid reason to not compete, but attending competitions when healthy is a crucial part of the recruiting process.
An athlete that has a bag full of tricks is worth very little to an NCAA team unless she also has a track record for hitting routines. An ability to perform under pressure is usually an acquired skill learned through experience in competition settings.
Of course you can save money by attending local meets. Your child also has a better chance of winning if you attend small competitions. Yet, colleges don’t care what color of medal your child receives. Try not to shy away from large invitationals or qualifying meets such as Regionals and Nationals; those are the venues where college coaches can be found.
College recruiters look at skill sets, scores, athlete interaction with current coaches and teammates and an ability to perform in competitive settings.
Placing an emphasis on gymnastics over academics
Colleges care about gymnastics AND academics! NCAA coaches are recruiting student-athletes NOT athlete-students. The emphasis of course being on the first word.
Programs are interested in your daughter’s school class-load, GPA and ACT/SAT scores. We’ll address this topic more in Post #2: A timeline: What to do and when to start.
If your child is attending a charter school, private school, online school, or using a home school method to balance school and gym life, make sure courses are NCAA compliant. You can learn more here.
Devaluing an All Around Experience
It’s common for athletes to have an event that comes more naturally than the rest or an event that doesn’t keep up with the others. The key is to not give up early in the game.
The more events an athlete can compete safely and as clean as possible, the more valuable the athlete becomes to an NCAA program.
Unless injury is a reason, athletes should continue to strive for an all-around experience throughout their high school career.
Specialists do have a place in college gymnastics, but the opportunity for scholarships is not as likely. Many walk-on spots are given to one or two eventers.
Your child must obtain an Amateur status by the NCAA to compete in Division 1, 2, and 3 programs. According the NCAA website, the following activities may impact your child’s amateur status:
- Accepting payments or preferential benefits for playing sports
- Accepting prize money above your expenses
- Accepting benefits from an agent or prospective agent
- Agreeing to be represented by an agent
- Receiving compensation for media appearances that exploit your athletic ability or fame
- Expressly or implicitly endorsing commercial products or services.
In today’s social media world, this can get tricky. If you are concerned that sponsorship opportunities may conflict with your child’s future eligibility, contact college programs of interest. Compliance Directors can give you guidance.
Although your daughter’s gymnastics can speak for itself, doing nothing in the recruiting process is one of parent’s biggest mistakes.
That doesn’t mean you should start sending your daughter’s elementary grades to your favorite college coach. So what DO you do?
By reading this article you are already on the right track! Now that you know what to avoid, read Post #2: The Timeline; what to do and when to start!
- Sticking with gymnastics through one’s Senior Year of high school is the number one factor that contributes to a college gymnastics career.
- As a parent you offer your child with the best opportunity to enjoy happiness, health, and success by removing expectation of a college scholarship.
- There are several well-intended mistakes that can hinder your child’s opportunities for a college gymnastics experience. Try to avoid them!