Sunday, 21 April 2013 17:23

Recruiting Tips: Learning to Pivot

Written by Tom Kovic

When your college recruiting strategy hits a wall, learn to pivot..

The college search for athletes is an individual and tactical quest that will play out differently across the board. If you happen to be that 5 star prospect that every college coach has his eye on, your biggest challenge will most likely be which college to choose! But if you are among the majority of prospects that are lumped into the next level of recruits, your college journey will be a little more challenging.

 This article focuses on helping families realize that the recruiting process is not always a straight run with the prize waiting for you at the end of the process. Conversely, you will run into resistance, difficult and frustrating circumstances and the family who can identify potential pitfalls and learn to pivot in advance of hitting rough patches in the journey, will weather the college search storms with greater success.

“Pivot” as it pertains to the college recruiting process, is the ability to maneuver proactively and shift personal strategy, based on careful analysis of individual college coach’s progress toward reaching their recruiting quota. Every college coach is different in personality and his approach to recruiting. Deciphering the feedback you receive from college coaches and determining where you potentially stand as a prospect is crucial when adjusting your game plan. If you are experiencing any of the following, you may consider making a pivot to your recruiting effort:

  • Sensing negative feedback or a lack of interest from coaches.
  • Falling short of coach expectation (academically, athletically etc.).
  • Incurring significant injury.
  • Scholarships, roster spots and admissions support for your recruiting class have exhausted.

Focus Your Effort

If you can effectively filter college coach feedback and streamline your approach to the recruiting process, you will invite less opportunity for error. Focus your effort and maintain positive momentum during every stage of the college search and pay close attention to feedback you receive from the coaches. Dedicate yourself to an untenable code in executing your plan and you will position yourself best on the radar screen of the coaches. Get your “team” on board and regularly evaluate your plan and look for potential hurdles on the horizon. If your gut tells you there needs to be a change to your plan…Be decisive.

Always keep your eye on your ultimate goal and “A list” schools, but remain closely connected to your "B list" back-ups. You will not be settling for less in your effort, but only preparing for the smart play (if needed) as part of a bigger process. There is an obvious risk in putting all of your eggs in one basket and this not a recommended strategy for any prospective student-athlete and family. Remain fluid in your college recruiting approach, embrace every minor shift to the original plan and remember that “momentum” is your driving force.


Vision is the act or power of imagination and it will become an emerging tool that will help you identify “unmissable opportunities” as you navigate the college search. The family that remains devoted to developing a strong and complete recruiting knowledge base coupled with a well-defined and impeccably executed plan will turn the power of imagination into tangible results.

The decision to shift direction in any endeavor can be frustrating and daunting, but don’t be afraid to embrace change as part of your college recruiting arsenal. Considering the high stakes in what has become a tremendously competitive theatre, the best laid plans that are followed-up with relentless execution may not guarantee the ultimate brass ring, but it will position you best to build continuous momentum. Maintaining a fluid approach to your plan of action with the regular ability to identify approaching potential shortfalls and having the courage to pivot in your game plan will open up alternative opportunities and hopefully to that end, finding the right college choice.

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:

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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