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Patrick Ianni and Seth Taylor

How to REALLY Support Your Child During the College Recruiting Process

In this 10 minute clip from the hour long webinar interview, I read a question from a parent (the webinars are live so parents can ask questions) in which the parent seeks advice on how to support their child with the often stressful college recruiting process. Please - listen to the entire clip (or read the transcript below) as we get into what I think is some really powerful conversation.  The answer is certainly not the typical answer we often hear to this question!!!

I do apologize for the not perfect sound quality and the fact that Seth's image was frozen...we had some technically issues with this webinar....But I couldn't NOT publish the recording of this interview -  because I feel it is really thought provoking.

Patrick Ianni is a retired MLS player and former US Olympian. Seth Taylor is a life coach with strong ties to soccer.


Awesome. Okay, there's a couple questions here. Alison is asking ... She says, "I'd like to hear a bit about how to support older kids, who are in high school, who haven't dropped out, but have been in a performance based atmosphere." If they want to play college soccer they're in the midst of a very competitive recruiting environment, how can parents support kids at this stage?

Seth Taylor:
Yeah. You want to take that Pat?

Pat Ianni:
I was just going to say, 'cause I'm working with quite a few high schoolers, and it's a tough one. I think that once they get to the high school age and there's been damage that's been done in the relationship between parent and child that's pretty obvious for me to see in most every case I work with. It's sometimes difficult for the parent to do anything, besides what Seth's saying, in terms of just trying to build a bond. Doing things with them, 'cause I think that's ... We underestimate what that bond does to kids in terms of their motivation to get out and talk to college coaches and stuff.

When they are ... I'll use myself for an example, I struggled after playing at UCLA and playing on the youth national teams, once I got into the professional ranks, it's very clear now looking back, that I was not wanting to talk to my coaches or to engage in their critique or criticism simply because there was a threat to my very existence or sense of confidence at that time.

So, I think we can't underestimate the bond between parent and child even at that age, which you can do a lot of healing and kind of rework that. There's never an end where it's not going to be good forever, because most children will welcome a parent coming back in at any age and saying, "Hey. I deeply want to have a relationship with you."

And it works by the child just letting them talk, like Seth was saying, and what is your experience of high school or whatever it is, and letting them talk and not forcing it to go in any which way and just listening. And I think that'll do a huge ... I know this is a very unconventional answer, because like, well, how can I get them to another team and what not to get them into college, but, again, if it's their path, if it's their journey to go there to college sports they'll get there. And those paths and journeys, that I'm talking about, are very fluid. And I just think that we underestimate what that bond does for them in terms of getting out and asking a college coach, "Hey, what do I need to get better at?" If you look there's not many kids around, for example, that are asking college coaches what do I need to get better at, and, of course, that are at a certain level of play already.

We have to be honest about, and find out, get someone to be honest with you about your child's ... The reality of your child playing college soccer. If they're 16, 17 then it's pretty much kind of do or die time to get into a college. I think there's a lot of times where parents are unrealistic about that, of course, and our trying to force them into a D1 or a D2 school, when that's not even an option.

At the same time, watching some parents that are navigating this through with their kids, there is a space for almost everyone in college soccer, if they want to be there. But, again, it's got to be the child's bringing their ... At 17, 18, their men and women. They need to be moving that thing in that direction, and you're still to just create that bond, and, again, there's a lot of unlocking of motivation that happens when that parent player bond, or parent child bond, is really, really strong.

Yeah. I think that's actually a phenomenal answer. I didn't follow you all the time, I was like, "Where is he going with it?" Then all of a sudden it like struck me like, "Oh. Wow." And that's been my experience, and my daughter's a senior now, and just committing to college, and I've been through this process with her, and I needed to let her do the soccer side of it. And all I had to do, and I look back now and I see what I really just should've been focusing on, is helping her be confident in herself so she could manage those relationships and the pressure as best as she could. But I didn't need to do anything with the soccer. All I really needed to do was help her with herself, and to help her know, and feel confident in who she is.

Yeah. I'm glad you said that. That's a beautiful response to this is that there's a reality there you don't have to do all that you think you have to do.

But, hey, you know. Let me add to this real quick. 'Cause the thing is I have worked with several players that were D1 recruits, and it was fascinating, 'cause I started to realize after a while like ... I tell you I get these guys, I'll work with any adult men and adult women that would come to me, and they're in their midlife crisis, or something like that, and they always are stuck in this place where they don't know how to go after what they want. I'll be like, "Well, what do you want?" They're stuck in a job that they don't like. They're stuck in a relationship that they don't like. They're stuck in this. Well, what do you want? And they're always like, "Oh. I don't know." And they've been living their lives doing what they thought they had to do, and it's the weirdest question.

Like because you'll see with these high school kids where they've been programed. I do what I have to do. And you ask a nine year old, "What do you want?" Well, they don't know that yet. They want love. Everything for them is unconscious. But if you ask a 16 year old, a 17 year old they're starting to really go, "I think I want something different." And if you just pose that question ...

I remember I had this kid that she was ... They had a recruiting website and the whole nine yards, and I remember going ... Seeing the anxiety was so intense, and I said, "Listen." One day I said, "I need you to understand something. If you don't want to play college soccer, you don't have to." Literally tears started flowing, and I said, "I think you're looking for permission. Someone to tell you it's okay to quit, and it's okay to just go have fun at a college." Literally she quit within two weeks she was done, and her mom's like freaking out. And I go, "Listen." I said, "You didn't come to me to make her a college soccer player. You came to me because her anxiety was too intense, and you wanted that anxiety to go away. Well, I'm telling you, she doesn't want to do this." And the greatest thing in the world that you can have for your kid, moving into those years, is that empowered feeling that they can see a vision, go after what they want, and they don't have to do things they don't want to do.

Everyone's like, "Well, that's part of life. Learning to do what you want to do." Yeah, yeah. I mean, if they're going into college there's about 100 million things that are presented to them that like they could do, that they could want to do. And college soccer, if you want to be good at it, you got to want to be there. You really do. It's a full time job.

And so, I always think like if you ask your kid, and you see anxiety, you see stress, because they're being recruited and there's that process, you teach them this: Put your head down and play, and if it's meant to be it'll happen. And then that really important question: Do you really want to be there? And just accept that wherever you are there's a path to where you want to be.

I mean, I've worked with guys before. I was working with a guy who was playing for the Seattle Sounders, and he was struggling, and he says his goal, "I want to play in a World Cup." I said, "Okay. Can we trust that if you put your head down and play, that might mean you get cut from here, or you get sent here, but can we trust that if you put your down and you dedicate all your energy to becoming the player you really want to be that you'll find your way there? That this winding path will find your way there?"

The data's clear, man, as long as Chris Wondolowski exists - you can make it. You know what I mean?

Yeah. You know? It's funny you say that. I don't know if Patrick, we might have talked about this, but I've got a lot of player stories on the site, and they're all very similar. I mean, it's Kevin Hartman playing JV high school his junior year. it's John Busch's long path into the pro's, and Jay DeMerit, and his whole story. So, all those conversations, and all the stories around the site for parents to learn about, and you're right it really, really is.

And I think the other takeaway, and then I want to move on to some of these questions as we're wrapping up, is you guys keep saying, "If it's meant to be it will," and that can seem like such ... Part of me is like, "No. It won't. Like, it's not just going to happen." But I think what might also resonate with parents, based on my conversations that I have with parents, is if it's meant to be your child will make it happen-

Yeah. And it's important they do.

If they're not going to the gym and lifting, and seeking more, and training on their own it's not going to likely happen, and that's okay. 'Cause that's them telling you what they envision for their future, and that's them trying to speak to you.

Exactly. And that's an incredibly important piece. When we can acknowledge that, wait a minute like we don't have to go there. And parents have a hard time, because they have a hard time releasing their own identity sometimes. I mean, when, especially, a kid's been playing club soccer since he was seven years old like a parent's life has revolved around that. You know what I mean? And by the time they're 18, there's almost no separation between their identity and their kids identity, and letting our child find their own way requires release and surrender, which I know is kind of spiritual language, but it really does require that.

Hey. I've said to parents that this has an opportunity to be a transformational hour for you as a parent, and it's true. Like if we're really going to make progress that's where we have to go.

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Skye Eddy

Founder, SoccerParenting.com
Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF "B" License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.