Talking to coaches can be incredibly daunting. While being nervous can result in having a bad conversation, it will not necessarily ruin an athlete's chance of joining that coach’s team. To be best prepared for an initial Skype or phone call with a coach, Athletes should do some research into that university well in advance. Coaches are not only looking at the athlete’s statistics and performances but they also want to get to know the athlete’s character and see if they will be a good fit for their programme.
Many athletes have expressed their anxiety in approaching a coach or when a coach approaches them. If you are one of these athletes, relax you are not alone. Meeting and communicating with coaches is intimidating, the most important thing you can do is to be prepared. Before setting up your first Skype or phone call, you should know a little bit about the university history; where it is located, how the team did in the past few years and look at the current players performances. These are all good topics to talk with the coaches about. You do not want to be stumbling over your words with little or no knowledge; this demonstrates that you are only into the university for the scholarship money.
Preparing for contact with a coach is quite simple. You should anticipate the questions they will ask you. For example, if a coach asks, "What would you like to study?" Do not say that you don't know and you only want to play sport. If you are not sure, many USA universities accept students as an Undecided Liberal Arts Major. You should research this option and have a general idea of what is available to you.
Here is a list of common question coaches will ask prospective student-athletes:
If a coach reaches out to you via an email, it is important to respond quickly and politely; this will show you are enthusiastic and well-mannered.
As important as it is to listen carefully and answer questions to the best of your ability, it is also good to ask questions of your own.
Common questions you should ask coaches:
- What are the admission requirements?
- What are the popular majors or courses that the athletes in the team study?
- What is the graduation rate of the athletes?
- What does the training programme consist of?
- What will happen if I get injured?
- What type of academic, international or athletic grants are available?
- What is the student-housing like?
- Do teammates usually live together?
- Am I able to work part-time?
When an athlete is prepared to communicate with coaches, the process is not daunting. You may feel nervous but the fear of the unknown will not be there. It is important to note that when coaches make contact with you, they must see potential in you so being prepared will make it worth yours and their time.
Winter brings cold weather, short days and longer nights which tempts many to stay indoors and cuddling up on the couch. Whether an athlete is in season or keeping fit in the off-season, winter workouts are not easy. The biggest challenge is an athlete’s mindset; it takes discipline and dedication to continue exercising in difficult conditions. Winter training also affects the athlete's muscles differently and precautions need to be taken to protect themselves from injury.
Motivation is a key element in maintaining a positive mindset when training in winter. Goal setting and working towards small achievable targets helps to keep athletes improving. Training in groups also helps to motivate an athlete as they have made a commitment, athletes prefer to follow through with the training schedule when working in teams as they do not want to let the team down.
Winter precautions to reduce the risk of injury or sickness:
1. Extend the warm up - Spend more time on warming up your muscles and joints in winter, before you begin stretching. You do not want to stretch cold muscles. Rushing through a warm up can result in tears as the muscle fibres are tight and brittle.
2. Dress appropriately - Wear many layers, if you get too hot it is easier to remove a layer than to add one. It is also important to pack a change of clothing for after training. If you have been sweating, the sweat will rapidly cool, dropping the body temperature and you might get sick. A warm shower and a change of clothes will protect against this.
3. Breathing patterns - Inhaling cold air has a direct effect on the athlete’s lungs, their bronchial tubes will narrow and the mucous membranes start to dry up. If your breathing begins to burn your lungs, you are not breathing correctly and you may cause inflammation of the bronchi. The best way to breathe is through your nose and out through the mouth. Breathing through your nose increases the distance air has to travel to your lungs, therefore warming up on its way through your nasal cavity.
4. Stay Hydrated - Drinking water is just as important in winter as it is in very hot conditions. You may feel like you are not losing a lot of fluids during winter training but fluids are still being lost. If you only drink water when you are thirsty, your fluid levels are too low and your muscles are already not performing at 100%. Remember to consume fluids on a regular basis, even when you are not thirsty.
5. Eat your Greens - The vitamins and minerals in fresh fruits and vegetables are important for muscle recovery and growth. The micro-nutrients in these foods also help to keep an athlete's immune system strong. For a balanced eating plan, remember to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
6. Warming down - All athletes should know that stretching and cooling down after exercising is important, but in the winter season, many athletes just want to get warm and indoors. Focusing on the warm down and stretching process will help with muscle recovery and stiffness, as lactic acid is being removed.
Winter is creeping up on us quickly. With the sun rising later, athletes are tempted to stay in bed a little longer. Self-motivation has never been more important to an athlete than right now. So remember to stay warm, set achievable goals, eat correctly and be cautious when training. There is no need to risk injury or sickness. By following these guidelines, you will be on track for some amazing results come summer time.
There are great stories of young athletes getting recruited to play college sports in the USA and they deserve a massive congratulations. However: some athletes that get presented with verbal commitments from coaches have been blindsided at the last minute and are turned down. This leads to huge disappointment for the athlete's, but the same thing sometimes happens to college coaches too. Coaches will often commit to an athlete and withhold funding to provide for a student but then the athlete pulls out at the last minute, leaving the coach and his team undermanned for the season. Is the verbal agreement process ethical? Should verbal commitments be worth the same as written offers or should verbal agreements be scrapped completely?
A verbal commitment is a gamble for both the student-athlete and the coach. Either party can pull out of the agreement but should this even be an option? One of the pros of having a verbal agreement is the athlete becomes, “taken off the market”. But with every pro, there is a con, and in this case, the con is that verbal agreements are not binding. Only a National Letter of Intent (NLI) is binding between the student-athlete and the school. This leads to the problem and process of decommitting.
Decommitting is when an athlete or coach changes their mind about the verbal agreement and no longer wishes to pursue the arrangement. Several years ago decommitting was unheard of and frowned upon, these days decommitting happens all too often. If a young athlete does not live up to his expectations, a coach can simply look the other way and not offer the athlete the national letter of intent. The tables can turn and the athlete may receive a better offer from another school and then decommit from their current verbal agreement.
If an NLI has been signed by both the school and the student-athlete, the agreement becomes binding and the athlete cannot attend and play sports at another college. There are a few cases where athletes can decommit from a written commitment, but only under specific circumstances. There are two situations in which a student-athlete may decommit; they are as follows:
Situation 1 – If the coach leaves the sports programme before the prospect officially attends the college. If the coach who signed the athlete leaves the programme, it is deemed fine for the student-athlete to decommit from the school and will not be penalised if he or she attends and plays at another college.
Situation 2 – If an athlete is recruited and informed that they will be the only recruit in that position; while in fact the coaches have recruited another athlete to fill the same roster position. Basically, if the coaches and the athlete have made a commitment and the athlete finds out there has been dishonesty from the coaches side, the athlete can decommit. With this being said, it is advised that the student-athlete sit down with the coaches and discuss the athlete’s role within the squad as well as the plans for the team as a whole. If the athlete is still not satisfied, they will be allowed to decommit.
So the question remains, are verbal agreements ethical or should they be scrapped completely? Many athletes, their families, recruiters and even some coaches feel that the Athletic Associations should ban the concept of verbal agreements because it is too much of a gamble that leads to disappointment. On the other hand, specialists in ethics believe colleges should hold themselves to a higher standard and if they make a verbal commitment, then they should stand by and honour it.
The banning of verbal agreements will be extremely difficult and nearly impossible to control, as coaches often promise scholarships and then begin the paperwork to be sent at a later date. This process is a form of verbal agreement. One solution is for the Athletic Associations to set an age limit to when students can be recruited. There have been suggestions that athletes should only be recruited when they are old enough to sign a National Letter of Intent. Either way, at this moment in time, verbal agreements are still taking place. Athletes need to be aware that a verbal agreement is not binding and you need to sign an NLI for your scholarships to be guaranteed.