According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, college coaches recruit fewer than 7 percent of high school athletes each year. However, that does not mean that the other 93 percent are not competing for a spot at their dream school during college recruiting season. Any athlete who thinks they have a chance will likely be competing in top form in order to catch the eye of college coaches. The pressure of trying to get your name out there and subsequent stress of actually meeting with teams and coaches can be overwhelming for anyone let alone a young high school athlete! So while they’re focusing on their highlight reel and researching scholarship options, what can you, as their parent, do to help them combat some of that stress and stay somewhat sane?
Sleep it off
Getting a good night’s sleep is a crucial component of staying healthy and minimizing stress. Most of us have experienced being more short-tempered when we’re tired; high school athletes are no different. In fact, they might be worse. Sleep not only lets our bodies rest and recover from the physical demands of our everyday life, it also gives our brains time to shut off and reset allowing us to better process stressful situations like college recruiting.
Ensuring that your high school athlete is regularly getting an adequate amount of sleep (8-10 hours is the recommended amount for young adults) is no small feat but, trust us, they will be much better equipped to deal with this important process if they’re well-rested.
EXPERT TIP: If your athlete is stubborn about not needing to sleep, it might help to let them know that lack of sleep also leads to a greater risk for injury. In fact, in a study conducted with student athletes at Harvard-Westlake School outside of Los Angeles, over 75% of participants reported getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night. During the 21-month period of the study, 57% of athletes reported injuries; 38% reported multiple injuries. Researchers noted that in this study, sleep was the greatest predictor in injury. Not a good thing to think about during college recruiting. You won’t be able to show those coaches much if you’re sidelined with an injury.
Good nutrition doesn’t just help an athlete perform at their best; it can also help prevent stress. During stressful moments, it’s tempting to reach for traditional comfort foods like pizza and ice cream but these high-fat foods are actually the worst possible choice because they can make a person lethargic and less able to deal with stress. In addition, stress can increase blood pressure and raise serum cholesterol levels making it even more important to combat those symptoms with healthy food choices.
Try to help your athlete choose low-fat high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables. These choices provide the nutrients a body needs to boost its immune system and keep up energy.
For more tips on what an athlete should choose to eat, check out our Pre-Game- What to Eat Before Running blog post.
Focus on school
With the pressure of future athletic endeavors looming, it might be easy for high school athletes to forget the real reason they’re in school; to get an education. They might be driven to ignore school for a while and focus entirely on their sport. You, as a parent, want to make sure that they are continuing to make their studies a priority. After all, while recruiters are looking for athletic talent, they’re also looking for dedicated students. Coaches can’t risk recruiting athletes who might end up unqualified to play based on academics. Keeping grades up throughout an athlete’s high school career (even during recruiting season) will show coaches that they are dedicated to their education and can balance their studies with the stress of college athletics.
Talk it out
Although it might be difficult for a high school athlete to discuss their feelings and stresses about their future, getting them to open up and talk about the situation will help you understand their stresses and will help them process their feelings and better understand why they are feeling that way. It also allows you, as a parent, to help them set realistic expectations for the recruiting process.
This is probably the single most important thing a parent can do for their high school athlete; keep a positive attitude no matter what happens. The fact of the matter is that a very small percentage of high school athletes end up recruited to the college level but that doesn’t mean that athletes who don’t get recruited have no chance of playing in college. Keeping an open mind and positive attitude will help make this process smoother and feel less dire if it doesn’t end up the way you or your high school athlete is anticipating.
College recruiting season is an incredibly stressful time and is likely to take a toll on any athlete. As a parent, you can help minimize the stress of your high school athlete and attempt to make the process positive and less stressful overall by following the tips listed above. However, it is important to remember that this might be the most intimidating situation your athlete has ever been in and that, in their mind at least, the outcome will dictate their entire future. Being understanding of their viewpoint on the situation will help you help them successfully make it through.
Is your high school athlete feeling particularly stressed lately? Looking for another way to help them deal with it? Check out our Stress Relief line of products to help supplement your other stress relief tactics.