We could have used another word, but well it may be too offensive to some. As the summer OTAs have started for many high school programs, many parents are feeling the pressure of specialization and there are many outfits willing to take your monies. Yes while many coaches volunteer to provide summer weight programs and get the kids running for speed and agility drills there are a few savvy individuals working against your high school program.
These are single-sport specialization programs for young kids that are told they need them more than your high school coaches to be recruited. However, this all comes with a low, low monthly and annual fee which is “Bucking the kids” against their own coaches, team mates and potential college coaches. Many coaches during the evaluation period from April 15 to May 31 often tour schools to find that next hidden gem and talk to high school coaches, teachers and councilors. If they like what they see they invite these kids to camp for further analysis. Meanwhile some players are missing out because they are not in attendance or exhausted from the specialization program from that day or night before. After all these college coaches have a relationship statewide with coaches and not specialization coaches. The statewide coaches share insight on their players as well as others the saw on scout videos during the season. So ask yourself of the nearly 300 schools in Colorado that field football teams, whom would you trust to give you praise, a guy you pay to hype your athlete up or the coaches that make it part of their process? The numbers and film do not lie but your trainer may so the monthly contract continues to be fulfilled.
Divison I or bust
I thought I was being recruited by Division I schools because my dad was paying extra monthly for that service to my trainer. I realized too late it was not true as coaches came to my high school and invited me to Division II camps. My dad had to scramble to get me in front of coaches by editing my film and go to school visits and work with my school to get admissions to tell us what we needed to do. I soon found out after years of being with one trainer it hurt me with my friends and high school coaches. After all the talk early on about being a Division I talent it seemed like it was just a way to motivate me and the guys around me to continue to show up and have our parents pay to be talked about but not really recruited. We ended up doing things on our own like a few other guys I was around that did not gain offers. I will attend college but sad I missed out on a lot. The Division I talk really hurt me as I attended prospect camps and realized all the junior day activities my trainer sent me to was a waste of time and my parents wated time attending instead of skiing or preparing for a spring sport. We thought we were doing the right thing to get offers. The fact was we were mislead like many others!" - Male football player
A perfect pairing would be if the trainers worked with the coaches but that would entail collaboration and many fee based outfits bad mouth anyone not on their monthly or annual billing database. (The current trend is $495 a month with a 12 contract. One you pay if you attend or get injured or do not show up.)
The reality is single-sport specialization among young kids is on the rise at an alarming rate. From the ages of 6-15 is the sweet spot as many are sold to participate in many regional or developmental camps. Some even attach the lure of being on a select or all star team. The problem with these teams is they add more teams as parents foot the bill to be a part of some random game that is meaningless. College coaches do not attend these events. However, some savvy groups have hired lower level college coaches or former professional players to entice parents for a value added offer. The bigger the paid admissions the bigger the names are coaching for about 8 minutes per hour your individual athlete is on the field.
Monies would be better spent touring colleges after sophomore or junior years of high school. A point in which you have varsity film and have established a better than average GPA and have an ACT or SAT score to show admissions and coaches. If you examine many college websites the ability to have a 4.0, 3.8, 3.5 or even a 3.2 may determine if you are worthy of attending that institution. It is very rare that athleticism will trump a college board exam or HS GPA but is happens. Prior to all the hype the reason to gain scholarship opportunities was to get an education that would propel the 55-60 years after graduation. However, because of the expense of a secondary education and the lure that single-sport specialization is a way to be a short cut has become a major flaw in the traditional process.
According to a March 2017 study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 45 percent of high school athletes said they only play one sport. This percentage has gone up drastically in recent years. For many who dream of playing at the next level, many may believe they can only play collegiately If they focus on one sport the whole year. The reality, however, is college coaches see few benefits to specializing in one sport at a young age or participate in travel 7 on 7 teams when they should be in a Spring sport.
“I have seen so many kids get burned out because they have given up their other sports for one and by the time their senior year comes around, they don’t even want to play any more, not even in college. So parents are wasting time and money they could have used to go skiing or to the beach for vacations."
The sport of football has become over recruited in recent years by both trainers and recruiting services because they are loosing prospective clients from low participation and a savvy group of parents that share information. What may have worked a decade ago does not necessarily work in todays world. Parents and players now have the availability to shoot video on their phones and submit via a social media platform. Email has become cumbersome and outdated as twitter seems to be the main method for success. Also there are people actively trying to train or invite guys to come to their establishment or field after they gain offers so they look good to prospective parents.
My son always wanted to play in high school and worked very hard for his dream. During his 8th grade year we learned a hard lesson on a post season team that it was not about talent but who you knew. The next two years my son did all that was asked of him from his high school coaches and we received some solid advice from other parents. After attending a free event we learned a lot and did a lot of work on our own to gain not only our first offer but a few since. Many have tried to get us to join their gym but we found someone we believe in and has been with us since day one. I know that some people have more money than we do but I will caution prospective parents to pay large sums of money for recruiting or training because most high school coaches do the same thing. Also it was the college camps during our sophomore year that made suggestions on what to work on and to consider a secondary sport that was NOT 7 on 7 but a real sport non football related because guys burn out or spend too much money on travel squads when high schools will offer the same 7 on 7 in June and July in preparation for August when the season begins.- Parent Division I athlete
The debate whether to play only one sport hurts everyone
“I felt so much pressure to quit volleyball and track and only play soccer because I was being recruited by Division I schools, and so I did. Playing soccer every day all year round for four years got old and when it was time for college I was so “soccer’ed” out I didn’t want to play any more.” - Female soccer athlete
So Bucking the kids is the age old attempt like snake oil salesmen. If you believe the speech you will fork over the cash. In every city or state there are snake oil salesmen with out a guarantee their product really works. You often hear about the success stories and seldom about the ones that never panned out. In earnest the best method to achieve success is to work hard and get noticed by many and not a few. Not everyone travels in the same pack so a wide net is better than tunnel vision. Life is about opportunities and at a young age kids need to have FUN, not worrying about single-sport specialization programs or being burned out before graduating high school. The days of 3 sport athletes and playing with neighborhood kids are like beepers and dial up internet, they are still around but rare. Think before you act or open that wallet as Bucking the kids is a way of living for many that have monetized sports but not necessary if you have interviewed your high school coaches to make your 4 year education a good fit along with academia.