Parents – 5 Ways Your Behavior Matters to College Coaches

softball-scholarships What if I told you that college coaches spend as much time scouting the parent’s behavior as they do the ballplayer? Would your behavior help or hurt your daughter’s chances? Discover 5 ways your behavior as a parent really matters to college coaches. We asked 150 college coaches during our recent Pitching Summit about the influence of the parent’s behavior on their recruiting – and guess what they said… Parents seem like they’ll do anything to get their daughter on a travelball team and make sure she plays in front of as many college coaches as possible. Anything to try and get a scholarship. For both parents and players there’s a ton of peer pressure to always play good, never make a mistake and impress the scouts. One bad day and everyone feels their plans could go up in smoke. Pressure to get a scholarship is piled on top of an already prevalent culture of overbearing parents who want to do everything for their kids. It starts from a desire to “help” their kids, but ends up hurting them by limiting their kids’ ability to think, talk and act for themselves. Skills they’ll ironically need if they eventually do play college softball. This over-controlling behavior also shows up on the softball field when players let their parents carry their equipment for them, answer questions for them, and basically do everything for them expect for pitch, hit and throw. And while I’m not trying to judge any parent on how they raise their child, I would like to change your perspective on how a parent’s behavior DOES impact your goal of trying to help your daughter get a college scholarship. At our recent Pitching Summit, we asked the 150 college coaches in attendance one simple question: “Has a recruit’s parent’s behavior ever kept you from recruiting that player?” What do you think their answer was? A resounding 96% said YES! That means in just our sample audience, 144 college coaches actually stopped recruiting a player simply because of the way their parents behaved. 5 Ways Recruits Parents Behavior Matters College College No parent wants their behavior to hurt their child, so it’s great to know that how you’re behaving in the stands, in the parking lot, on the phone and at the snack bar actually can impact your daughter’s chances of playing college softball – both in a positive and a negative way. Let’s look at 5 Ways that a Parent’s Behavior Does Matter to College Coaches:
  1. They WILL stop recruiting your daughter based on your behavior – Making excuses for your daughter’s mistakes, being overly aggressive or acting like a crazy-person in the stands are all warning flags to college coaches. Coaches know they’re recruiting the parents as well as the athlete so do your very best to be neutral. Love your daughter, support her efforts but avoid becoming the show.
  2. They’ll notice if your daughter carries her own equipment – While this might seem too ridiculous to even make this list, it tells coaches a lot about a player’s personal responsibility. Nobody is going to carry her equipment for her when she gets to college, or make sure she has her glove, cleats and water bottle – those are all things she’s responsible for bringing herself. So when a coach notices a player get out of her car and just start walking toward the field, assuming her parent/s will start carrying all of her “stuff” it’s a warning flag. And coaches want to avoid recruiting players with warning flags.
  3. They’ll notice if she says please and thank you – How your daughter talks to people on her team, at the ballpark and in her life is a big indication for a college coach how she’ll talk to them once she’s at their particular school. Coaches want good, thoughtful and kind people as part of their team. Selfish, rude players are not what any coach wants to stake their team’s season or their own personal career on, so encourage your daughter to be polite by saying please and thank. All the time, to everyone.
  4. They’ll notice if your daughter can talk for herself or do you always talk for her – You might think you can answer a question better, or faster or more accurately than your daughter can but if the question was asked to her then let her answer it. Too many parents answer too many questions for their kids so their kids quit thinking. They even quit paying attention. College coaches want to see how well your daughter thinks for herself, can she express her own thoughts, is she an independent thinker. Remember, that college is part of the whole college scholarship thing, and to go to college you need to know how to think, act, talk and behave on your own. So allow your daughter to talk for herself. Sure, she might answer some questions wrong, she might take a little longer to respond than you would, or she might not be sure of her answer – but the mere fact that you’re standing back and letting her do it herself will go a long way with college coaches!
  5. They’ll notice if you’ve raised her to be a great, supportive teammate – And finally, while the pursuit of a college scholarship might seem like an individual sport, your daughter is actually trying to become part of a college TEAM. Teams involve a group of individuals acting in a cooperative and supportive manner to achieve a common goal. How well your daughter supports her teammates is a HUGE thing coaches look for. Does she get mad when teammates make mistakes, or does she immediately go over and offer support? Does she keep her head up and continue cheering when she’s not in the game, or does she search for you in the stands to complain? Does your daughter work on her “teammate skills” as much as she works on her own individual playing skills? These are all things that college coaches are constantly watching for.
College coaches sit in the stands during games and listen to everything parents are saying. Are you a parent who’s constantly complaining about your daughter’s playing time, how bad the umpires are or how much you disagree with the coaches? If so, then college coaches aren’t likely to recruit this type of behavior. College coaches watch for warning signs of selfish behavior and they also look for glowing examples of great teammate skills. Which one will your daughter show on the field, and as importantly, which ones will coaches observe from you in the stands? There’s nothing easy about being a parent, and you want your child to succeed more than anyone does. So be aware of how your behavior is being watched by coaches, and do your very best to be a loving, supportive parent to your child, as well as to the other kids on your daughter’s team. For more help on this topic check out:

8 comments on “Parents – 5 Ways Your Behavior Matters to College Coaches

  1. Bruce A Harten

    This kind of reporting is ballenced out by the FACT that Softball Excellence is a for profit operation !. Don’t forget its the ” Talent ” of youth that gets them to college ranks period and “Well intending Parents ” guide them as well as they can ! Also keep in mind that ”All College Coaches” have nothing to do with the development of those players….and more than a great many have been “ruined ” by inept coaches once they reach the campus………” Especially Pitchers ” as a pitching coach since 1966 ….I constantly keep track of who is coaching at what college and advise parents to College pitching coach capability !……Recent case in point……University of Minnesota has a tremendous Head coach in Callister…..but Pitching coach Ritter tells freshmen pitchers… aint throwing those “Mens Pitches here in college”………Effectively saying what got you here doesn’t count…..and because I throw the ball a certain way…you will throw my way ! I recently sent a letter to Head coach Callester that my pitchers parents in 5 state area of Minnesota and Arizona (winter ball) are respectfully advised to stay away from Minnesota until Callister gets a pitching coach ! Recent Pitching coach conference was mostly patting each othedr on the back……..One must remember that each and every recruit has a father, mother, brother or friend that caught hundreds of thousands of pitches in practice to get them the ” Motion, Control, & change of Speed ” that MADE THEM A PITCHER in the first place. ………and with that in mind don’t get me goin on NCAA strike zone ” INCOMPETENCE ” ! Bruce A Harten

  2. Bob Clark

    I train about 100 students a week in pitching. I’m going to post this for all parents to read. It is so true. I’ve seen viable prospects having to settle for less due to attitude and the parents inability to basically get out of the way of ones development and progress.

  3. Cindy Bristow

    Hi Bruce –
    Thanks for your post – and clearly, you’re angry. Sounds like you’ve been helping lots of kids for lots of years, as have hundreds of thousands of coaches and parents. My article was not slamming you, coaches like you, or even parents. Everyone realizes that without the tremendous support of parents, young players would never have a hope of playing softball at all – never mind the chance of playing it in college. We all know great, supportive and encouraging parents, but we also know parents who are pushy, overbearing and harmful in an attitude-way. Sounds like you’ve got a beef with University of Minnesota and a little bit of a chip on your shoulder when it comes to college coaches and possibly Softball Excellence. I wouldn’t be where I am without the amazing help of my parents, and I would never blatantly disrespect parents – ever. As for our Pitching Summit, its really hard for you to talk about what transpired over those 3 days when you didn’t attend. Keep helping kids out there Bruce, and while you might not like Minnesota’s current pitching coach, some of your pitchers just might. So don’t let your bias rob a young player of an opportunity. Have a nice day – Cindy

  4. Benji McWaters

    Thanks for this article. It is difficult to control your emotions when things are going wrong for your daughter on the field. I have often had to bit my tongue to keep from saying the wrong thing. I really appreciate the reminder of how important my behavior is.

  5. Cindy Bristow

    You’re welcome Benji. And you’re right; when it comes to your child and having to watch them fail, its SUPER tough on a parent. A parent’s role in life is to raise their child into a healthy, functioning member of society, and a large part of that role is protecting them from harm. Where things get dicey is when we confuse struggling and failure with harm. It’s normal, natural and studies have shown even helpful for kids to struggle and fail. It teaches them resiliency & perseverance, and paradoxically will improve their skills. So as parents, we need to let them struggle from a distance. If we intervene, it should be to remind them they can do it, to work their way through it. The best things parents can do to help their kids while they’re playing is:
    – Give encouragement
    – Help them learn from failure
    – Praise their effort, not their talent
    – Be a good listener (every problem doesn’t have to be solved by you)
    – Cheer & support everyone on the field
    – Ignore the umpire’s role in the game. Focusing on a bad call not only makes things negative but takes your child’s focus away from their role in the result. Empower your child instead of the umpire. The umpire is trying their best just like every kid on the field.

    I hope that helps Benji…just know you aren’t alone in your pain watching your child struggle.
    – Cindy

  6. B B

    Awesome reminder to all us parents!
    As a former softball player 6 yrs- college…
    It’s in your blood to want your child to be the best and be almost perfect every game! I always try and think about when I played and remember those screaming and yelling parents! I don’t want to be that parent. I love to cheer both my son and daughter on when they’re out there playing and of course there are those times I want to say.. “hey wake up or what was that?” And I have don’t get me wrong… I have!
    But the older they get (son 14 and daughter 12) I realize – they ARE trying their best and if they weren’t then they wouldn’t want to waste their afternoons practicing and all day Saturday’s playing- but they do.. And THEY CHOSE TO!!
    So I remind myself ENCOURAGE THEM!! If they screw up tell them to FLUSH IT AND MOVE ON!! They’ll have plenty more plays ahead or bats ahead. Thankfully both of our kids have the kind of personality where they both KNOW it’s ok. Everyone is gonna make a mistake and it’s not the end of the world. I’ll fix it and get the next one! We have taught them it’s NOT A ME GAME!! It’s a team sport and when one player makes it about ME… It affects the whole team!
    We told them to ALWAYS help a teamate realize that and always pump each other up!
    You can never let one get the rest down n if you see that happening – be a leader and stop it fast!!
    I think they both actually have heard that sooo much it sank in. Bc those two have been great ball players and chin up positive athletes from day one!
    No crying or pouting in softball or baseball.
    That’s an automatic pine rider!

    Doesn’t fly in our house

    It’s not about them/ it’s a TEAM THING and anyone playing a team sport has to realize that from day one or they’ll only do damage for a team!

    When a single person makes themselves more important it will ALWAYS destroy a team!

    Thanks for your article and I hope a lot of parents n coaches read it.

    Wish all teams would read it.

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