If your mission is clear, the manner in which you communicate becomes the vehicle that will move your college search plan forward in your chosen direction. On the other hand, ill-prepared communication can cause confusion and misdirection. Your ship moves, but with a weak rudder.
The manner in which you present yourself will directly reflect who you are and trust me…It will be picked up early on and regularly by college coaches and good recruiters. Realizing you have the ability and obligation to be proactive in your recruiting effort gives you the chance to register regularly and in good form, on the radar of the college coaches. It provides you the opportunity to help set the tone and the direction of what will hopefully become a productive prospect-coach relationship.
Develop and maintain a regular awareness and understanding of NCAA contact rules. For example, July 1 was the first opportunity for most college coaches to initiate phone and off-campus face to face contact with rising senior prospects, but growing an understanding that you may call or e-mail a coach at any time, with rare exceptions, is critical. The important point here is to practice “persistence with respect” when communicating with coaches. This will give you a better chance in grabbing their attention.
Many prospects get the jitters even thinking about speaking with college coaches and trust me…You’re not alone. College coaches are grounded, down to earth and caring men and women who want you to find the right college match. That aside, they can be brutally honest at times and deliver information you might not want to hear. “Honesty” is the recruiting mantra for a good college coach.
Remind yourself regularly that you “own the results of every action you execute in the recruiting process and practice communicating like you would practice anything else in your life that matters. You will never be perfectly prepared to meet and speak with coaches, but you want to always lean in a “prepared direction.” If you falter or stumble when communicating with coaches, simply find your way back to center. Coaches aren’t concerned about the hiccups; they want to see how you recover.
Remember, when college coaches evaluate, they use three simple factors to size up a prospect: Academic strength, athletic ability and depth of character. The character component is a grey area coaches like to navigate. Coaches are gut thinkers that want to know who you are on the inside. This will be easily revealed to them by the manner in which you communicate and present yourself.
If there is a proverbial “red flag” with communication, it would be prospects who reach out to coaches with no real agenda. Coaches are looking for information that will drive your chances to remain in the “A” recruiting file. Whether it is news about improved scores on your ACT exam, or results from a select meet, give the coaches something that has “grip” and you will improve your chances in boosting your ranking on the recruiting chart.
I use the term “striking a balance in communication” to help develop awareness in prospects and families that effective communication with college coaches is important for two reasons. First, by offering well thought out information that is pertinent to the college search, the prospect sends a clear message to college coaches that she is well prepared. Second, coaches value time management, and considering the hundreds of potential prospects they work with at any given time; coaches appreciate and remember the proactive effort prospects offer on their end.
The college recruiting process is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It should be an effort that is tactical, well planned and aimed at cultivating sincere relationships with the college coaches. Prospects who embrace effective communication as an important tool in their recruiting arsenal will give themselves the greatest chance in becoming an integral part of the final decision.
About Tom Kovic:
Tom Kovic is a former Division I college gymnastics coach (Penn) 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: www.victoryrecruiting.com
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.