School has started and for many students that means back to the court, track, pool or field to participate in sports. Youth sports provide a unique opportunity for children to acquire physical, social and personal benefits that can help them throughout their lives. Student athletes generally do better in school. Playing sports provides the opportunity to interact with peers and adults, teaches kids how to deal productively with criticism, to play by the rules and to deal with adversity in constructive ways. Kids can learn it’s alright to make a mistake, learn from it and then move on. Sports can provide a wholesome outlet for channeling energy and build lifelong habits of physical fitness.
These benefits get misdirected when sports are used as a means to getting into a selective university or winning the elusive but highly prized collegiate athletic scholarship. It is not surprising that many young players dream of playing on a national team, going to the Olympics, or playing a sport professionally. What is surprising is how many well intentioned parents, guardians and others ignore the data that indicate how few athletes actually achieve these goals. Young athletes face many important decisions. One is whether they wish to continue a sport in college. If so, the key is to fully research and understand both the college admission and athletic recruitment processes and how they interact. Here are some guidelines to get you moving in the right direction:
Follow the instructions for completing forms and paying registration fees. There is an excellent NCAA guide that explains the procedures you must follow in some detail. Similar steps apply for the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) schools. Learn more about this association’s programs at www.playnaia.org.
Just like on the court, track, pool or field, knowing the rules, becoming informed and getting prepared is the best way for the college-bound athlete to succeed.