There is nothing more frustrating than an injury that limits your ability to play the sport you love. Hundreds of hours of preparation in the off-season all of sudden feel like a complete waste of time when you’re sidelined with a serious injury.
Despite the setback, the biggest mistake you can make as a parent is to assume that a blown knee, torn ligament or broken bone ends any hope of your son or daughter competing in college. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Injuries are a part of sport. Times are different. The advances in medical technology mean athletes with serious injuries often come back better than ever. In fact, injuries that require several months of rehabilitation can teach young athletes valuable life lessons.
And according to several college coaches we’ve spoken with on the subject, if a relationship was in progress prior to the injury, the courtship will likely continue.
So if you sustain an unlucky injury, don’t automatically assume your goal of playing college sports is squelched. Instead, here are some things you can do to say focused on the athletic recruiting process even if you are sidelined:
Make sure to attend practices and any team meetings. Some athletes get disconnected because they feel they aren’t part of the team when they’re injured. While you may be unable to play, attending practices and staying in the loop are critical to your frame of mind.
Don’t let your academics slip. An injury can lead to depression. As a result, grades can slide. The last thing you want to do is dig yourself an even greater hole. In fact, utilize this time to work even harder in the classroom.
Spend more time researching colleges. Your goal of finding the perfect fit hasn’t changed, so spend the time educating yourself about different schools. If your injury might derail hopes of playing Division I, then start to familiarize yourself with Division II, III and NAIA schools. Remember, there are plenty of Division I-level athletes competing at these levels!
Gather film. If your injury occurs early in your senior year, then you may not have much film to show coaches. But your junior film, or any footage taken during the summer, may be just as valuable. Be sure to get with your coaches and/or any parents who may have some film on you.
Don’t stop communicating with college coaches! Again, coaches understand that injuries occur. And if you were in communication with coaches prior to your injury, then stay with it. Don’t be afraid to tell them what happened either. Coaches who are genuinely interested you won’t abandon you because you’re hurt. Speak freely with coaches about how they’ve handled this with past recruits.
Listen to your doctors. They are your greatest advisor when you’re injured. Don’t rush back before you’re ready either. You’re more valuable to college coaches when you’re healthy, and if you come back too soon and re-aggravate your injury, then college coaches may reevaluate their interest in you.
Be realistic. If you have no Division I offers and have no senior film, then it may be time to become more realistic about your collegiate options. Smaller colleges may be a better fit for you, and in the end, finding the perfect fit is the most important thing.
As a published author, public speaker and radio/television guest, Rex is widely considered among the nation’s premier authorities on college athletic recruiting.
Before founding Student-Athlete Showcase LLC in 2003, Rex served as a NCAA Division I Compliance Representative and VP of West Coast Operations for a large college recruiting firm. In 2008, Rex was honored with the prestigious “Forty Under 40” award by the Denver Business Journal.