The chances any of our children are able to use sport achievement to get into college are quite low. The NCAA approximates that 5% of high school senior athletes go on to play any level of collegiate sports. Significantly less play at the Division I level, and full scholarships are very rare. The growing popularity of youth sports make college play an even more remote possibility.

The Reality of Playing Collegiate Sports

It is quite possible that each high level youth sport team has a number of athletes who progress to play collegiate sports, yet the data we don’t see or hear about, is the great number of young athletes who did everything that was asked of them – they trained, sacrificed, specialized and still didn’t play in college. In fact, they got cut from the travel team at age 15.

Ask the Right Questions

So, when we find ourselves sitting in a room of 25 youth sport athletes participating in some form of an “elite” team, the more realistic question to ask ourselves is, “Is my child the 1 player out of this group that has a chance to play at the college level?” You might rebut, “Well, this program sends a lot of kids to D1 schools.” Maybe that is true, but the estimates are not in favor of any one child making it.

The Choice (and path) is Their Own

So, whatever training path our children choose, we as parents need to be certain that they are happy, healthy, and having fun doing it. And if by chance, they don’t realize the dream of college play, they are better for having the wonderful experience that playing sports on a great team with great coaches have to offer.


This article was adapted by Dr. Ginsburg’s original posting on the US Lacrosse website.

Dr. Richard Ginsburg
Dr. Richard D. Ginsburg is a clinical psychologist and sport psychology consultant. He is co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital PACES Institute of Sport Psychology and is an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ginsburg also serves as staff psychologist in the Newton Wellesley Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department and is the director of Behavioral Health for the Boston Red Sox. Dr. Ginsburg offers a broad range of clinical services to children, adolescents and adults and conducts youth and professional sport research. He is author of the book, Whose Game Is It, Anyway, A guide to helping your child get the most from sports, organized by age and stage and has served as a sport psychology consultant for a variety of professional and college-level sports teams, including lacrosse, soccer, water polo and ice hockey at Harvard University. He is a member of the US Lacrosse Safety and Science Committee and provides talks and consultations nationally to youth, high school, and collegiate athletic programs. Dr. Ginsburg played lacrosse and soccer at Kenyon College, where he won all-conference and all-Midwest honors. He is also a former independent school teacher and coach. He lives with his wife, Teri, and their two children in Newton, Massachusetts.