The college search for athletes is a journey, and in many cases, a long one that will hopefully and ultimately provide a college destination that matches well with the prospect. That being the case, maintaining a “hands-on and self-guided” approach each step of the way will serve you best in maintaining strong momentum and building strong relationships with college coaches.
Prospects that have the opportunity to meet face to face with college coaches will soon realize the significance in this milestone and dedicate themselves to prepare best for the meeting. My suggestion is to maintain a simple yet highly organized approach to your interviews and get the best bang for your buck.
They say you only get one opportunity to make a first impression and your “conduct” during the college recruiting process is no exception to this rule. The manner in which you present yourself to coach will be well-remembered. Dress casually, but nicely. Look sharp and you will feel sharp and coach will know it. For example, guys should avoid wearing jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt. Instead, you should opt for a pair of khakis, a collared shirt and a pair of nice, casual shoes.
During initial contact between families and coaches, moms and dads are typically the ones who greet coach first and the prospect is located somewhere in the shadows. Change the strategy and set the tone of the meeting in a manner that will make a lasting impression with coach. I always encourage prospects to be the first to greet coach with a confident and firm handshake. Thank coach for making time for you and your family to meet and then introduce your mom and dad. This not only demonstrates self-reliance and confidence, it shows respect and coach will love it.
After you sit down and talk casually for about 5 minutes during the “warm-up” period, coaches will usually begin “the pitch.” The pitch is a classic attempt by the college coach to re-cap the nuts and bolts of the program and trust me, they are absolute masters.
They will discuss everything from policies and procedures of their program, expectations they have for every member of the team, mandatory academic programs (study hall etc.) to recruiting goals and the type and number of players they are looking to bring to the program.
This portion of the meeting is a great way for families to gather information specific to the university you are visiting and the coach and program you are considering. Be a sponge and take it all in, but try to also be an equal partner in the discussion and have a short list of questions you want to ask coach.
Maintain eye contact and upright posture with coach during the entire meeting. This validates your interest in the program and gives coach every reason to believe you want to be there! You want to leave the meeting well-informed, but you also want to leave a positive impression on coach.
Close it out
The meetings with each individual coach will vary in time and content but the one common thread that will run from one meeting to the next is “information.” The ultimate aim should be for both parties’s to walk away wanting to take the next step.
The depth of impression you make with college coaches will be directly proportional to your level of preparation to present yourself favorably. That said you can push that impression deeper, by closing out a positive and constructive discussion with great effect.
Thank coach again for meeting with you and your family and let him know that your interest in his institution has ratcheted even higher. Convey your desire to provide him with any significant updates (athletic, academic and otherwise), that can help him evaluate you in the best light.
The prospect and family who envision on-campus meetings with college coaches as a pivotal stepping stone in the college search will provide themselves the best opportunity to build momentum in the recruiting process. Be polite, but bold in your effort to make a positive first impression with coach and set the tone of the meeting. Pay close attention to coach’s “pitch” of his program and look for openings to volley your questions. Leave the meeting on a high note and create positive closure to an important recruiting event that will lead to future growth between you and coach.
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.