Whenever I lecture on college athletics recruiting, a primary area I focus on is using “deliberate” communication with college coaches in an effort to build sincere personal relationships. Although eligibility, financial aid and contacts and evaluations are all very important, I am convinced the area of communication is very important to the likelihood of success in the college search for athletes.
I choose the phrase “dynamic exchange” to help differentiate between normal communication and effective communication with college coaches. The aim is simple: Whenever you communicate with college coaches you want to create “impact” and with the aim of continuing the momentum you have developed in advancing your recruiting effort.
Dynamic and Exchange (Defined)
Dynamic: 1. adj. active, energetic, capable of giving a sense of power and transmitting energy.
Exchange: n. the giving or receiving of one thing in return for something else.
If we view the college recruiting process from its simplistic state, I think we can agree that in the end, both coaches and prospects are looking for the right match. That said, I strongly feel that the prospect and family that are willing to develop a “give and take” and an “ebb and flow” strategy in developing their recruiting tactics will have the best chance in carving out their college search…And with communication as the tool.
Remember, college coaches have their sites set on recruiting and retaining the top prospects on their list, but as they move down the list they will be looking for “grey area components” that divide the best from the rest and they need your help.
Whether it is an on campus visit, phone conversation, or e-mail correspondence with the coaches…Make it count. The old adage is true: Measure twice, cut once. The better prepared we are before we communicate with college coaches, the more tangible the results will be. College coaches are grounded, common sense individuals who pick up on the little things that can make a big difference.
Practicing communication skills is the same as doing your homework or spending 4 hours working drills in the gym or on the playing field. The more diligent and sincere your effort, the better prepared you will be to communicate with confidence. Remember, the manner in which you express yourself, your interests and your intent can have a direct effect on the level of interest college coaches will offer.
Keep accurate contact logs of all phone calls, e-mails and face-to-face contacts you have with college coaches. This will help families organize information that will assist them in future planning. It will also help prepare follow-up communication that will generate fresh “action” items to be discussed in future contacts.
If you want to separate yourself from the rest of the recruiting pack, then I strongly suggest you make it your goal to communicate with college coaches about your sincere interest in their program. If you give the coaches every reason to believe that you are attempting to cultivate a reciprocal relationship with them, it sends a positive signal that will, in most cases, cause Coach to take a second look at your recruiting file.
Remember, there are three key qualities college coaches are looking for in prospects: Quality students, strong athletes and kids that bring a high character component to the table. Never underestimate the character component in your recruiting effort. It could very well be your ace in the hole.
The “scratch your head” syndrome
If you are that “blue chip” kid that most college coaches are pursuing, your recruiting journey will probably be a little less bumpy. On the other hand, if you are grouped into the active recruiting file of prospects that need to compete more aggressively for athletic scholarship, an admissions component or walk-on opportunity, you need to go above and beyond and find a way to rise above the rest.
The “scratch your head syndrome” is a typical crossroads most college recruiters approach each year and with few exception. They are either stumped to how their recruiting list should be ranked, or, for some reason, they are giving a prospect a second and third look for intangible reasons. They are “scratching their head” in a worthy struggle to give a kid every opportunity to fit into the “team puzzle” and it typically happens with prospects and families who have pushed the envelope in their recruiting effort.
I encourage every family and athlete I work with to begin with the end game and work backwards to the beginning of the college search. Just like that magical season, win or lose, you can proudly look back and say you gave it your best shot. The same should hold true in the college search and using dynamic communication with college coaches that has “grip” will open up new and exciting parts of your character that coaches will pick up on and appreciate greatly.
Tom Kovic is a former Division I Head College Coach and President 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: http://www.victoryrecruiting.com.