Should Parents Encourage Kids to Take Recruit Trips?

Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham

With changes to NCAA rules on recruiting, kids are signing earlier and earlier. Some of the new regulations can be found in the SwimSwam article “NCAA ADJUSTS RECRUITING DATES, LOCATIONS FOR PROSPECTS:”

“The impetus behind the legislation is the growing amount of recruiting of and verbal commitments by middle school athletes. While recruiting within swimming hasn’t yet gone that far, we have seen a complete paradigm shift in the recruiting process the past couple years, with more and more high-level swimmers verbally committing in the spring of their junior years and some during their sophomore years.”

Other SwimSwam articles with early rankings are helpful to understand the new rules and trends, including WAY TOO EARLY NCAA RECRUIT RANKS: BOYS HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020 and WAY TOO EARLY NCAA RECRUIT RANKS: GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020.

I have talked with several college coaches who say the recruiting calendar has moved up during the past few years, even before the new regulations, and they don’t believe it’s a good thing. They’d like kids to come for official visits and see what their schools are like firsthand. But, often with the goal to get one of the coveted spots on a team, a swimmer will commit sight unseen or after an unofficial visit. Some feel pressure to commit over the phone. This makes it difficult for other coaches to compete or even ask swimmers they’re recruiting to come on official visits.

Here are three ways student-athletes look at prospective schools and why they should go on recruit trips:


Official Visits

Without parents asking questions or steering a child’s thoughts one way or another, an official visit helps swimmers see for themselves what a coach, university and teammates are like. Some schools may take kids out at night and the student-athletes can figure out if the school condones partying or not and if they feel comfortable with the team’s culture. They will get to observe coaches’ interactions with athletes and get a good feel for the campus. Of course, there’s a lot of selling going on during official visits, and everything is presented in the best light, but our perceptive kids can get a good look and feel.



Unofficial Visits

I think it’s important to go on unofficial visits and campus tours with your kids their sophomore and junior years. The benefits are getting our kids used to speaking to college coaches. They get exposure to what questions coaches will ask them, and may figure out what they want to ask, as well. These visits should be without pressure, but information gathering sessions. They offer practice for your children for the recruiting process and official visits ahead.



Online Resources

There is so much information available online. You can help your kids with initial research visiting University websites, looking at average SAT and ACT scores, as well as taking a deep dive into the Swimming and Dive pages. You’ll know if your child can make a contribution to the team by looking at the conference meet results and the top times from the team. However, my daughter mentioned viewing a college through their website and social media doesn’t give you the full picture. “It’s like watching someone take the picture they post on Instagram. It’s different in person than it is online,” she said.


What do you believe the benefits are for student-athletes to go on recruit trips?


Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Still sorta confused
4 years ago

I’m still confused and need a little clarity on unofficial visits. You mention taking them sophomore and junior year and getting used to speaking with coaches. I believe the rule says athletic departments can’t be involved until Sep 1 of Junior year. So doesn’t that mean they can’t speak to coaches during an unofficial visit sophomore year? And with official visits now starting junior year they have to decide whether to take the visit as official or unofficial. I would expect a school to think you are more serious as a candidate and put some pressure on making a visit official if you are a desirable recruit. Gonna add stress to what is already the most stressful year of high… Read more »

Elizabeth Wickham
Reply to  Still sorta confused
4 years ago

I agree it is confusing. From what I’ve read, on unofficial visits, if you’re visiting a D1 school, you’re correct, you can’t speak to the coach on campus until Sept. 1 of the junior year. Swimmers could go on campus tours, stop by the pool and watch, but not talk with the coaches. If swimmers visit D2, D3, or NAIA schools they don’t have any age restrictions for unofficial visits, so they could speak to coaches during their sophomore year. Also, the military academies don’t have the same NCAA recruiting rules as D1, either. I hope that helps to answer your questions about unofficial visits.

Reply to  Elizabeth Wickham
4 years ago

Actually you can call and visit coach and talk to him/her any time any year. He cannot do that until after your junior year, but no limit for swimmers.

Reply to  Elizabeth Wickham
4 years ago

Not true about speaking with college coaches prior to sept 1 junior year. The rules are more focused on who can initiate the communication and how, and where you can talk and meet with them. Prior to sept 1 coaches cannot reach out to you or speak with you or family members at meets, but there is no restriction on meeting with college coaches on campus if you initiate contact. We have an early commit 11th grader who has been visiting colleges and meeting with coaches in their offices and on their campuses since 8th grade. Every time we would fill out an unofficial visit form that they would file with compliance/ncaa. I found the schools to be very diligent… Read more »

4 years ago

Coaches aren’t blameless here – many put pressure on the kids and give them deadlines to commit that are way before any official visits would occur. You can’t wish an athlete would take an official visit and at the same time propagate a culture that encourages athletes to commit beforehand. This issue isn’t going to be solved by the athletes, but by the adults in charge of making the calls here.

4 years ago

Great article!
What can you say to a kid whose has visited their dream school, fallen in loved with program, gets the money they feel they deserve and takes the offer way way early- nothing but congrats. Is that that a typical experience? From parents pressuring their kids to take the money/commit to shady coaches (some names will surprise you!) offering scholarships for weeks at a time (take this scholarship or it will be gone in two weeks) to anxious/impatient young people that just want certainty, there are way too many decisions based on fear /worry and not the right fit. No perfect fit, of course, lets not idealize this process- but to get a good fit requires research,… Read more »

Sun Devil Swim Fan
Reply to  FREEBEE
4 years ago

My grandson committed to ASU (as a junior in high school) in February of this year. He & a parent did take an unofficial trip to Tempe & fell in love with campus, the team (ate breakfast with them along with coaches), & coaches. They toured campus & talked with Dean of the curriculum he intends to enroll in. Scholarship offer was generous. No “downs” perceived. He has a good friend from another club team that will enroll there & swim for ASU this year ( so he will have a friend already there when he enrolls next year). Not saying most (or at least some kids) shouldn’t take more time making their decision but my Grandson (as well as… Read more »

Beverly Drangus
Reply to  Sun Devil Swim Fan
4 years ago

This is a lot of potentially personally identifiable information. I think it would be in the best interest of swim fan and his grandson for the mods to edit or remove.