The secret science of squash recruiting
By BEN OLINER
co-founder College squash insiders
FORMER TOP 8 PLAYER in U.S. AND BROWN 03'
Put yourself in the shoes of a college squash coach. Your job is evaluated based upon the team you assemble each year. Your goal is to create a team culture that strives for excellence -on the court, in the classroom, and, perhaps most importantly, by reputation. The reputation of a college squash team is the most important piece to the pie because this is the part that will continue to breed success year in and year out and achieve credibility both among prospective students and their colleagues. In this regard, character and sportsmanship are as essential a component as talent and skill to a college coach.
The college squash coach has a complicated and nuanced job. They must:
1) actively recruit strong high school squash players who fit into their team culture.
2) make their current team better by creating organized and structured practices, training programs, and effective in-match coaching.
3) assemble a team that is always competitive, upstanding, and fair.
4) consistently produce a team that is aligned with the mission, core values, and philosophy of the institution that they represent and thus adheres to the standards imposed by Athletics Directors, alumni supporters, current students, and current parents.
While these responsibilities are inherent in all coaching environments and are not unique exclusively to college squash coaches, in some ways, college squash coaches have it tougher than coaches in other intercollegiate sports. The stakes are high and, yet, there are fewer college squash teams and fewer recruits than in other NCAA sports. Additionally, many coaches have, "less pull," in getting students in than other sports within their institutions.
In this regard, college coaches have less margin for error in their recruiting and have to be very precise tacticians in the game of recruiting and producing a strong team annually.
This is where the, "science of recruiting" comes in to play.
With limited resources, a college coach needs to make the most accurate assessments possible in picking students who they believe fit into their school and team culture. They need to find students who will be able to balance the stress of being a student-athlete along with the motivation and ability to continue to improve throughout their college career. They need to find students who they believe will be valuable team players for four years and have the abilities to make am impact and win at the college level. They need to judge character and determine that their recruits are willing to play in a team environment, handle pressure, and want to stay with the sport for four additional years throughout the highs and lows of arduous long seasons.
On the contrary, to many junior squash players, squash is perceived as a path and leveraging tool towards getting into a better college. For some of these students, their ambitions on the squash court ends the second that they arrive onto a college campus.
For a college coach, this, "burn out" effect presents them with their biggest threat. By selecting a student who is no longer motivated, the coach loses credibility within their institution and also squanders one of their very precious recruiting spots. Additionally, many students have reached their peak in high school. They have formulated their style of play, developed muscle memory and patterns of play that are very difficult to change, and have exhausted themselves mentally by expending countless hours towards training with a specific goal,. In this regard, many young college squash players believe that they have reached their athletic potential as players and enter college having lost their creativity and joy for playing.
In light of this, a college squash coach is always looking for recruits who are still hungry and inspired by squash. Coaches are looking for players who they believe still have potential to improve. But, measuring potential is difficult. Potential is the intangible ingredient that isn't included in a student's ranking; potential is where a student will get to - not, where a student currently is.
College squash coaches are well versed in measuring potential. They have formulated their own unique five year plans for their high school recruits and draw from their knowledge, expertise, and experience to use their tools to predict the college squash trajectory of each prospective recruit. They have a scouting eye and are constantly looking for strands in their prospectives that they believe can be harnessed towards improvement and achievement that fits into their puzzle of success.
At CS Insiders, we have the tools to help you share your story and unleash your potential. Using data, analytics, and our own personal knowledge from coaching and playing on teams, we can help you prepare for and provide the information that coaches want to hear about your five year periodized plan towards staying motivated, improving every day, and achieving college squash success.