Monday, 06 December 2010 20:50

Effective Communication with College Coaches: The Introduction

Written by Tom Kovic

If there is one area of the college recruiting process that stands above the rest, I believe it is the way prospects effectively communicate with college coaches. Let’s face it, the majority of boys and girls in any given active recruiting pool will not be blue chip prospects and a reluctance to proactively communicate with college coaches will oftentimes result in an undertow that will likely drag a prospect and family backward in the college search. Below are some simple tips to consider when making an introductory contact with college coaches.

Define Yourself

Before you take the plunge and pickup the phone or e-mail college coaches I strongly suggest you take the time to define who you are. This may appear on the outside as a daunting task, but once you wrap your arms around it and understand the importance of self awareness in college recruiting the easier it gets…And it’s fun!

Remember, first impressions are always remembered and you want to prepare best for the initial communication with the coaches. The simplest way to define you is by developing a personal profile or resume. Keep it to 1 page and clearly list your academic, athletic and personal accomplishments during the past 2 years. Include an area at the top that lists your contact information and an action photo. Accomplish this task and you’re half way there!

Know Yourself

Now that you have yourself defined on paper, be proud of what you see. Think about it for a moment…You have poured countless hours of sweat, frustration and glory into your training and sometimes it’s nice to smell the roses and give yourself a proverbial pat on the back!

OK, you have yourself neatly defined; you are happy with what you see, but now you need to know it, engrain it and make it a driving part of developing your college quest momentum. Remember, there are three qualities that college coaches are looking for in prospects: Fine students, strong athletes and self-aware individuals who bring a strong character component to the table. When you connect with the college coaches you do not want to “hope” to know yourself, you have to be able to express yourself seamlessly and with confidence.

Initial E-mail

Coaches receive hundreds and hundreds of emails from high school prospects and they develop personal filtering systems to root out prospects to place in their active recruiting file. The college search for athletes is tremendously competitive and you will need to prepare your e-mail communication carefully and with the intent to easily assist the college coach in doing an initial evaluation.

I suggest crafting your initial e-mail by using the following rule of thumb: Keep it simple, short and informative. You don’t have much time to make an impression, so make your effort count. Let the Coach know who you are, where you are from, what high school you attend and the year you will graduate. Let Coach know you are excited with the college search and that you have sincere interest in his program. Depending on the year you are currently in high school, I encourage you to let Coach know you will follow-up the e-mail with a phone call in the very near future. But remember…Do what you say you are going to do!

Phone Follow-up

Communicating with college coaches by e-mail has a chance in being effective, but unless you are that blue chip kid that many coaches are evaluating, you will need to roll your sleeves up and get busy. Remember, college coaches are receiving hundreds or recruiting correspondences and they simply do not have the time to respond to all of them. Taking a proactive effort in “keeping the ball alive” will give you the best chance in moving forward.

NCAA rules clearly restrict (most coaches) from initiating phone contact with prospects until July after the completion of the junior year. Although this is true, it does not preclude the prospect from calling the Coach and discuss your sincere initial interest in his program. You need to be well prepared for this conversation and don’t just call to say hello! Develop a short bullet list of topics you want to cover and practice your delivery until you reach a comfort level before calling Coach.

Frequency in Communication

Is there a point where a prospect can force too much communication with the college coaches? Yes! You don’t want to ping them incessantly, but you do want to keep them posted with significant updates (academic and athletic) and with specific intentions (unofficial campus visits etc.) without bugging them.

How frequently you communicate with the coaches also depends on what high school year you are in, the sport you play and the season you participate. So, as an example, if it is September and you are a junior in high school and play lacrosse, it would be a good idea to keep the coaches posted every 2-3 weeks regarding your fall tournaments, updated PSAT scores and interest in making a campus visit in October.

Effective communication between the family and the college coach can be critical to the decision made by the coach to pursue a prospect. It can make or break a coach’s decision to offer an athletic scholarship or to provide that extra “push” in the admission process.

If your mission is clear, communication becomes the vehicle to move with definite purpose in your chosen direction. On the other hand, ill-prepared communication can cause confusion and misdirection. Your ship moves, but with a weak rudder.

About the Author:

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college gymnastics coach and the current director of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. Tom is the author of “Reaching for Excellence”, an educational guide for college athletics recruiting. For further information visit: Copyright Victory Collegiate Consulting 2010.  Used by permission.

Editor's Note:  Publication of this article is not an endorsement of any recruiting service.  Always check with the NCAA or your school's compliance officer for any questions regarding recruiting rules, the latest timelines, or other issues.

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