Communicating with a College Coach 101
Date Posted: 6/19/2013
Communicating with a College Coach 101. What every Prospective student should be doing to enhance his visibility.
Don’t play the “name game” – don’t dismiss a school because it is small or you are not familiar with it. There are excellent opportunities available in all shapes and sizes, and even if a school is not for you, recruiting interest at one school can generate interest at other schools. Also, if you are impolite to a coach, word will get around quickly. You don’t want that.
- You may start receiving camp invitations, admissions information, and surveys from all Division coaches as early as your first day in high school. If you don’t, you don’t need to worry – it just means you’re not one of the few elite athletes that get real attention at this early stage.
- If you do receive any correspondence, make sure to reply – that is how you can end up on coaches’ recruiting lists. Ideally you should reply to everything, but this is especially important for schools you are targeting or think will be a good fit for you.
- Reach out to Division III and NAIA coaches, especially if you are considering playing in those division levels. They don’t have the same rules as Division I and II coaches and can talk on the phone or write you as an underclassman. Even if you do not plan to attend a Division III or NAIA school, this is an opportunity to get experience talking to coaches, be more in-demand down the road (which will help your recruiting stock), or even find a great school you didn’t know about before.
- If you have been replying to correspondence from coaches, you may now be on a recruiting list. If you have not been replying – start! If you don’t reply, coaches will think you are not interested. Also, encourage coaches to contact you by phone or mail. It won’t be long before they are allowed to contact you, and you definitely want them to do that.
- Remember if you are receiving correspondence: the “top” of the recruiting funnel is very large. Tens of thousands of other student-athletes are getting the same form letters you are. These communications do not indicate serious recruitment.
- Keep a log of all correspondence you receive from college coaches, including what schools and coaches have contacted you, what type of correspondence you received from them, and any other details of your communication. Keep this log updated! It will help you determine your current level of recruiting and will be an extremely valuable tool throughout your recruiting process.
- Since Division III and NAIA coaches are not restricted by the same rules as other divisions, you can start setting up unofficial visits with these schools. Again, this is helpful whether or not you ultimately are targeting these division levels. You will develop confidence and experience in talking to coaches. These visits will also help you understand the things that are important to you in a school, a program, and a campus.
- This is when the recruiting process kicks into high gear for most athletes. How do you know if you are a Division I prospect? They will be contacting you via phone by the end of the summer. If you are a Division I prospect, you will know it. Coaches can contact you with personalized written correspondence, and call you once a week – NCAA Rules do change. I suggest you refer to the NCAA Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete.
- As always – write back. Once a coach has contacted you, start sending them periodic updates by email about your progress. An online profile is the easiest way to do this and most schools have their own recruiting questionnaires.
- Keep taking those unofficial visits. Be proactive in setting them up, any you can take at schools you are interested in are good. If coaches are asking you to visit them, this is even better and is an indicator of recruiting interest. These visits are often on game days (and often come with free tickets – the one perk the NCAA allows for unofficial visits) and can be a lot of fun. And you should have fun – but also remember that you are there to connect with the coaching staff and the team, and to make a good impression.
- In soccer there are plenty of recruiting events (club tournaments, showcases college ID camps). Attend the events you know college coaches you are interested in will be attending and/or participating in. This is very important between your sophomore and junior year and junior and senior year of high school.
- By this point you should have a professionally edited highlight tape that you are getting out to any coach who has expressed interest in you. Most coaches do not solely recruit a player from a highlight film; however, they are good at whetting a coach’s appetite. College recruiters want to see you play live. The best way to do this is at camps, where they are allowed to work with you.
- This is the peak of the recruiting process, and coaches are now able to call you except during dead, quiet, and evaluation periods (keep your eyes peeled for a future post with more about contact periods and the complete schedule for the upcoming year).
- You should hopefully have a list of 15 schools that you have been in contact with and are a good fit for. Your job this year will be narrowing down that list to one (some schools may pass you over and make your choice easier – this is why it’s so important not to depend on just one school).
- Now that you’re a senior, you can take official visits. Unlike unofficial visits, where all you can get are game tickets, during an official visit a school may pay for your transportation, lodging, and food. This applies to the student-athlete only – not parents, who must pay their own way. You are only allowed to take 5 official visits to Division I and II schools (unless you decide you definitely do not want to play Division I, in which case you can take unlimited official visits to Division II schools – but keep in mind this permanently disqualifies you from playing Division I).
- If you are taking official visits, you will likely receive an offer on one of them. Consider this carefully – it is a life-changing decision. Coaches will not necessarily expect you to answer right away, because they understand how important it is. Think it over, consider what you want, and talk to your parents. Don’t wait more than a day or two, though. This is a competitive process.