June 15th is a date you want to highlight in your calendar. Starting June 15th after your Sophomore year, college coaches can begin communicating with the prospective student-athlete directly. This serves as a turning point for prospects as college coaches are now afforded the opportunity to:
- Coaches may call a recruit at any time.
- Recruits may send and receive an unlimited number of text messages, emails and private/direct social media messages to/from coaches or athletics staff. Coaches cannot comment publicly on social media but may follow a recruit’s social media account or like his posts.
- Reminder: Recruits may call coaches or athletics staff as often as they want.
What is your strategy to enhance this first contact?
Do you have a plan when your cell phone rings? When you receive that opening text message? Coaches are looking for individuals that are engaging, show interest, and bring energy to the conversation. How you present yourself, is how people first view you. What do you want their first impression to be of you? Remember, first impressions last.
The #1 priority is ENGAGEMENT. Ensure that you are showcasing you are serious about your development and serious about your future as a student-athlete. Coaches are going to be drawn toward athletes who display a strong passion for their sport. You want to convey the message thatyou are fully committed to your sport, rather than it being a hobby that you are interested in.
When the coach hangs up the phone; will they have more, less or the same amount of energy as when the conversation first started? There is nothing more frustrating than being on the phone with a recruit who is providing minimal interaction. It can be a turn off if the coach feels like they are pulling teeth trying to get you to be more responsive. Are you answering their questions in a single sentence? When we interact with others, our energy either goes up or down. Your priority needs to be that you exchange positive energy, so the coach feels better once ending that phone call. Are they going to look forward to their next interaction with you? Will they be excited to share insight with their colleagues about how the conversation went? They are calling to educate you on what their university has to offer from an academic and athletic standpoint. But even more importantly they are contacting you to form a relationship. Connections will always be a two-way street, not a one-way road.
Your #2 priority is to ask questions. By asking questions, you will not only learn more insight about their program, but you will showcase your level of interest. Coaches want players who truly want to be there. They need to know that you are going to persevere when things do not go exactly as you had planned.
Ask “questions” that show you have done some research. “Coach, I saw you guys offer —- major, are any of the current players enrolled in that department?” This clearly defines to the coach that you are serious about being a student-athlete and your academic endeavors. Plus, you have asked a question that highlights you have taken it upon yourself to research the university. You care to learn about the entire experience a student-athlete can gain from being a member of their program.
“Coach, my family and I really enjoyed watching the conference tournament championship game. We were really impressed with how your guys attacked on the offensive end. What stood out most to you during that game?” Ask a question that informs them you understand the current state of the program. Simply looking up the schedule and previous seasons results can separate you from other recruits. Learn about style of play, coaching philosophies, what aspects are they looking to improve with future recruiting classes, and how they view your abilities fitting in withwhat they do. Your passion will be contagious.
Do not be afraid to ask coaches about themselves. Find out their story, their own playing career, what do they love most about their current position, their family structure, and career goals. Oftentimes, recruits only ask questions that pertain to their life and neglect to find out anything personal about the coach. It is important that you get to know the coach on a personal level to move past the player/coach transactional dynamic.
Lastly, the #3 priority is to ask for feedback. Open the pathway for these coaches to be direct andtransparent. Seek out the truth. “Coach, what are some of the components that players struggle with the most when they transition to your level? How do you guys help players move forward?”Recruiting pitches are going to be overwhelmingly positive. Get below the surface to best gauge the fit with your priority list.
The best way to standout from other conversations is to ask for specific feedback on your development. Most people only like to hear what they want rather than hearing the truth. “Coach,what areas of my game do you recommend I invest in this summer? Do you have any shooting/decision making/conditioning drills that I can add to my workouts?” Acknowledge that you understand you must grow and get better to realize your potential. A coach will not forget that conversation.