Offseason training tips for prep athletes

Eli Cranor

How much do you love your children?

Do you love them enough to scale the backstop at a Little League game, dangle from the chain link and scream profanities at the 17-year-old umpire behind the plate?

I hope not.

But if your kids are in youth-league sports, you’ve probably witnessed a similar scene.

There’s an epidemic sweeping across our nation, and the source of the sickness — the heart of the disease — is parents. They’re brawling in the parking lots after peewee football games, storming the courts at halftime and causing all sorts of trouble.

The kids, on the other hand, aren’t much of a problem at all. After baking in hundred-degree heat and playing six softball games, all in one day, they’re too stinking tired to cause much trouble.

Maybe that’s why parents are so gung-ho about sports these days: Everybody loves a sleepy kid. Or maybe it’s something else, a unicorn called a college scholarship.

The allure of college scholarships is a huge motivating factor for parents, and rightfully so. If your baby gets a volleyball scholarship, you can spend her college fund on a Winnebago and road dog your way across the country to see your little superstar play.

But here’s the hard truth: The odds of earning an NCAA athletic scholarship are slim. Only 3.3% of the 7 million American high school students who participate in sports will become NCAA athletes.

Is your kid in the top 3.3%? Maybe she is. Maybe she will be one of the ones awarded a scholarship. Even then, the average scholarship is less than $10,400 (and many are much less, especially in smaller classifications like Division II).

So the mystical unicorn of a full-ride scholarship only really happens for Division I athletes in four sports: men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, and football.

If your kid has a dream of playing college ball, I’m not here to burst his bubble. But I am here to make sure it’s his dream — your kid’s dream — not yours.

Because if it’s your dream, and that’s why you’re howling at the pimple-faced ump while your kid cringes in the dugout, then let’s take a step back and work through this thing together.

I’m here to help.

This column can be your safe place, a place where you send in anonymous questions concerning your child’s sporting endeavors, and I’ll answer them. I’ve played football at every level, peewee to professional. I was a head coach, an assistant coach, and now I’m a father. I take my daughter to gymnastics on Wednesdays. I’ve seen things.

This means a great deal to me. I believe sports are one of the greatest teaching tools America has to offer. With that being said, let’s make sure we’re doing it the right way.

Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to or visit

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