Playing Time in College: a reality check for parents of college bound student-athletes

The truth parents tend to have a tough time with is that, in many cases, even when your child has a scholarship

Unless they were recruited as THE “Blue Chip” player of the roster/position, there’s a chance they won’t be handed the starting spot immediately. 

You have to understand, college coaches have other players they recruited too. College coaches have returnees they know better and have an established player/coach relationship with. 

There are ways to find out where your child is on the depth chart in the recruiting process so you and your student-athlete have a realistic idea of what they’re facing when they get to where they’re going. 

Some parents feel like this reality is rooted in “favoritism.” 

But if you’ve coached at any level, you have personal experience with what causes coaches to “favor” some players over others or to give certain players more of the benefit of the doubt than others. 

It’s not just about skill level. 

Sometimes it’s about who a coach trusts more (for more whatever reason, and there are many). Sometimes it’s about how a student-athlete takes instruction or how they respond to mistakes or how they interact with their teammates. Sometimes it’s about team chemistry or about one of the various other factors that come into play when a coach determines their starting lineup. 

Now, could there be some “favoritism” involved?

But that is not something we, or our children, can control in this process. 

Your child isn’t the first, and won’t the the last, who doesn’t get as many of the reps as they want or think they need. 

Your child isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, to have to work their way up the depth chart.

Your child isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, to potentially have to overcome coaches preferences that may not “favor” them at first. 

Is your child willing to work that hard at something that maybe they think should already be theirs based on their perception of who/what’s in front of them? 

Do they have the ability to keep a strong mindset under these circumstances? 

Do they have the ability to overcome the doubt and/or discouragement that can creep in? 

Do they have the maturity and skills necessary to keep an open line of communication with their coaches and continue to build THEIR relationship with their coaches/teammates? 

Also … will you be someone who helps them rise to the challenge in a situation like this? Or someone who further fuels feelings of frustration and discouragement that can sometimes arise along the way? 

Your attitude as they navigate this situation matters as it will color every interaction you have with them, the vibe you give off, and may very well influence your child in the process whether you intend for it to or not.

Remember, complaining doesn’t get you or your child anywhere, regardless of whether or not your child (or anyone else associated with the team) ever hears it or not.

Choose your actions/words/responses/attitude wisely.

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