Chapter 13: Things to Consider
Things middle school, high school, college, and professional athletes should consider.
Things to Consider for the Next Level
“Doors close quickly.”
— Male professional basketball player
In this section, I discuss things that middle school, high school, college, and professional athletes need to consider at their respective levels. In the middle and high school section I assume that you have ambitions of playing at the collegiate level. Therefore, I discuss issues that will prepare you for each level.
6 Things to Consider For Middle School Student-Athletes
Selecting A High School – When it comes to selecting a high school you need to consider a few important points. Making the wrong choice can be the difference between having a fun or terrible high school athletic experience. Ask the following questions:
1) How long has the coach been at the school? Is he or she experienced?
2) Grades – Make sure you have the grades to compete at the high school level. Starting in high school you must meet the grade point average requirements which is usually 2.0. Starting in 2016, grade point averages for NCAA student athletes will be 2.3. High schools may soon follow.
3) School Work/preparation – When selecting a school make sure you select one where you fit in academically. Some schools have higher academic requirements than others so sure you are prepared to do the work.
4) Evaluating the Coaching Staff – Playing a high school sport is a crucial part of your athletic development. When you are considering a high school it is important to pick a school with experienced coaches that will help you become a better player. Consider things like:
5) Playing Time – In high school it will be important to gain as much game time competition as possible. If given the chance to play junior varsity when you can play the whole game or play varsity and play a few minutes, you need to play for the junior varsity team. Game time experience will help you in the future.
6) Competition – In high school it will be important to play against the best competition so that you can reach your highest athletic potential. If you are good enough to compete, select a high school that plays in a top league.
7 Things to Consider For High School Student- Athletes
“Perseverance and having a sense of identity other than sports. Meaning, I learned to not identify myself as an athlete because it is temporary.”
— Male college football player
1) Honest Self-Assessment – When going into your senior year in high school, if you are not being recruited then you need to start making plans to go to college as a student. If you still believe you are good enough to compete at the college level, then you need to consider smaller schools, possibly division two, three, or a junior college. Going to a school and walking onto a team is also a possibility. Every year there are several players who walk-on to a team and are then given scholarships the next year.
2) Recruiting – During the recruiting process it is important to communicate with potential coaches. Ask the coaches where you are on their depth chart. In other words, are they recruiting players they feel are better than you? Are you the their number one recruit? Number two? Fall back? Are they recruiting other players at your position? It is always good to know where you fit in their recruiting plans so that you don’t have any misconceptions about how much you will play at the college level. Also, ask recruiters what weaknesses they see in your game. What do you need to work on?
3) Selecting a college - Selecting the right college can be the difference between having a thriving or nightmare college athletic experience. It will be important to pick a college that is right for you athletically, socially, and academically.
4) Take the right classes – Ensure that you are taking classes that the NCAA will accept. Going by the guidelines of the NCAA eligibility center will help you in this process. If you are taking an online class check with your high school counselor to see if the NCAA will accept it.
5) Evaluating Coaching Staff – Evaluating the coaching staff at the college level is similar to high school. You want to make sure you will improve as a player and a person. However, it is important to know whether the coaching staff is at risk of being fired. Being at a school where you play for a coach who didn’t recruit you can put you in a difficult situation because he/she will eventually bring in his/her own players that fit his/her coaching style. Contact former players and ask them about their experience at the school and with the coaching staff.
6) Playing Time – You want to go to a college or university where you are going to play. As a student-athlete you work hard to play, not sit on the bench. If you have the chance to go a historically top university and sit on the bench or play immediately at a less prestigious university and play, you need to select what is best for you. Some may be okay just being on the team at a top university while others want to play. It is up to you and what you are comfortable with.
7) Competition – In high school it will be important to play against the best competition so that you can reach your highest athletic potential. If you are good enough to compete, select a high school that plays in a top league.
4 Things to Consider For College Athletes
“Being a professional athlete involves a lot of factors not in your control.... if you put the same time and effort into being a lawyer or doctor, you will reach your goal 95% of the time. Education first.”
Male professional basketball player”
— Male professional basketball player
1) Honest Self-Assessment – At some point student athletes at the college level need to assess whether they will play professionally or enter the workforce. If you do not believe you will play beyond college you need to start the process of entering the workforce as early as possible. Look at summer internships and get familiar with the career center on your campus. Also, start looking into the possibility of attending graduate school. You may even investigate coaching as a graduate assistant at a school.
2) Playing professionally - Even if you are not considered a professional prospect in the United States, you may have an opportunity to play professionally in a foreign league. These opportunities are usually available in basketball, baseball, and hockey. If this is something you believe is for you be up front with your coaches about playing overseas. Ask if they have contacts for specific countries. Each year there are hundreds of athletes who play professionally overseas. Some have professional careers that last as long as10 to 15 years.
3) Careers – If you have no ambitions of playing beyond college then make sure you select a major that reflects what you want to do after college. Also, contact your school’s career center and investigate summer internships and other employment opportunities.
Graduate school - While you are on scholarship look into the possibility of completing your degree in three years and using your last year to get a graduate degree.
4) Graduate school - While you are on scholarship look into the possibility of completing your degree in three years and using your last year to get a graduate degree.
5 Things to Consider For Professional Athletes
“I learned that a fool and his money will soon depart.... Most people associated with you are out for their own personal interest.”
— Male professional basketball player
1) Honest Self-Assessment – Whether you play for 1 year or for 10, you need to make plans for what you will do after your professional career. You should also consider the state of your body. Are you healthy? Would playing more adversely affect your body after your career is over? Furthermore, you need to consider how much money you make during your professional career and if you will need additional skills when you finish playing.
2) Hiring the Right Advisors – Having competent advisors (accountant, financial advisor, and agent) around you is one of the most important decisions you will make during your professional career. These individuals are essential for both athletes who are making millions of dollars and for those who earn a couple of hundred thousand. This can be the difference between being scammed out of thousands, even millions of dollars or having a significant savings account after your career is over.
3) Paying Taxes – Make sure you pay your taxes every year. Even if you are playing basketball overseas make sure you know your tax obligations. Hire an accountant who has experience with professional athletes.
4) Control Your Finances – You should never allow anyone to control your finances. Make time to check your bank statements and pay your bills on a weekly basis.
5) Post Career – If you have not made a significant amount of money that will allow you to retire you need to start to prepare yourself for a professional career after your athletic career. This could be taking classes, professional development through reading, or working an internship. If you want to start a business, increase your business skills. Remember, during the time you have been playing your sport others have been working and will have more professional experience than you. So as you progress in your athletic career you must also acquire new skills that will keep you competitive and relevant in the workforce.