College recruiting is a journey and, in many cases, one that will ultimately provide a college destination that matches well with the prospect. Consequently, maintaining a “hands-on and self-guided” approach each step of the way will serve you best in building momentum and cultivating strong relationships with college coaches.
Prospects that have the opportunity to interview face to face with college coaches will soon realize the significance in this milestone. Also, they will 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 don't get a second chance at a first impression. Your “conduct” during the college recruiting process is no exception to this rule. The manner in which you present yourself to a coach will be well-remembered. In preparation for the college recruiting interview, dress casually, but nicely. Look sharp, and you will feel sharp, and coach will know it. Avoid wearing jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt.
During a typical college visit, moms and dads are typically the ones who greet coach first, and the prospect is somewhere in the shadows. Change the strategy and set the tone of the meeting in a manner that will make a lasting impression with the coach. I 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 exhibits self-reliance and confidence, but it also demonstrates respect.
At the start of the interview you will talk casually for about 5 minutes during the “warm-up” period. College coaches will then begin “the pitch.” The pitch is a classic attempt to re-cap the nuts and bolts of the program and trust me; they are absolute masters. A seasoned college recruiter will discuss everything from policies and procedures of their program to recruiting goals and the type and number of players they are looking to bring to the program.
This portion of the meeting is excellent 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. Try to be an equal partner in the discussion and have a short list of questions you want to ask.
Maintain eye contact and upright posture with the coach during the entire meeting. Display 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 a coach.
Close it out
Meetings will vary in time and content, but the one common thread that will run from one session to the next is “information.” The ultimate aim should be for both parties 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 significant 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.
The prospect and family who envision on-campus college recruiting interviews 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 a 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 essential 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.