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Trying to get a college scholarship during COVID


The process for a junior and senior athlete in high school who are expecting to attend college has gotten incredibly more complicated this past year due to COVID. Particularly if you want a scholarship to attend college. Preparing to hopefully play college sports has always created a lot of pressure and stress, but the lack of practice and competition in high school means that college coaches are unable to see potential recruits perform. Seeing a recruit perform in pressure filled competitive situations, has been the foundation of recruitment. Now that it is not possible kids are dealing with fear and anxiety that’s unprecedented. 

 

The transition from high school to college

 

As a society I do not think we have ever been good at dealing with transitions. The transition from high school to college is no different. The transition from high school sports to college sports is even harder. Kids are moving from being a big fish to potentially being a small fish. For most kids, the sense of being a really good athlete in high school changes, once they reach college.

 

Going from high school to college in this day and age where only a small percentage of kids get into college they want, can make the process daunting. With many kids wanting to go to a Drill Instructor {DI) school and there only being so many scholarships this has presented a problem that can feel like a personal attack, on a child’s identity and all the hard work they have put into their sport.

 

It is also during this time that kids who were able to effectively get along with the mental skills they had, no longer can. The pressure and stress of trying to perform the way they think college coaches want them to, becomes the central focus. Since true performance becomes secondary, it tends to decline until kids are able to develop the mental skills they need for this transition and moving forward.

 

The pressure of getting a scholarship

 

If you want a scholarship to play sports that means you have to impress college coaches. This is where the brunt of additional pressure rears its head, in junior year of high school. While some kids are being signed before that, most are being seen and then signed for a college sports team in their junior year. 

 

What pressures come along with this? 

 

First, college coaches come to your sporting events watching and evaluating you. This happens amongst others playing the same sport which sets up young people for having to deal with social comparison and anxiety. 

 

Second, after a college coach sees you, worrying about what they think and whether or not you were good enough. 

 

Third, communicating with college coaches. You have to follow NCAA rules but even when you are allowed to communicate with them they are communicating with many other athletes. Communication can be difficult and confusing. 

 

When you are a high school athlete wanting to play college sports, a small number of kids make the cut. Kids have to deal with the highest level of rejection – being rejected for something they have put numerous hours  into. Rejection that invades who they think they are. 

 

The impact of COVID 

And now there is COVID. All that I have talked about has gotten exponentially more difficult. 

College coaches have no way of seeing athletes perform and many are not accepting video reels as a replacement. Not that it matters right now because kids are not going to school/college and college sports has also been postponed indefinitely. 

 

No in person contact. Video reels are not cutting it. Some sports teams have been cut while others are neither practicing nor competing. Many college campuses are shut down. No one knows when this will change. No one knows what this will look like after it is over.

 

How to deal with these pressures

The pressure and stress of college, being a college athlete and getting a scholarship has always created a bit of chaos. Now it is even harder. It has left kids not knowing what to do. How do I get IN? How do I get the attention of college coaches?

 

So what do kids do? Their whole young life has been spent building a dream. Their identity is totally wrapped up in their sport. All the time, energy and money spent on the dream of playing in college and maybe beyond, seems wasted, with nowhere to go. 

 

No one knows what will happen so trying to remain calm and continue training are great things to focus on. This is a great time to learn to focus on what IS in your control. How do you stay the course? What can you do to continue to learn and grow?

 

This is also a great time to work on developing the mental skills you need, to be the best student and athlete. It is  the time to reflect on what is going to help you become even stronger just in a different way. This also includes developing the mental toughness, to get through this period of transition!





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