If there is an operative word I use with the families that I advise in effectively communicating with college coaches, it is nudge. Nudge is defined as: “Pushing against gently, especially in order to gain attention or give a signal.” That being said, there is a fine line between nudging the college coaches and bugging them. What follows is an attempt to help differentiate between the two.
Considering the volume of e-mails they receive from high school prospects, college coaches develop personal filtering systems to root out prospects and place them into the active recruiting file. Whether it is an e-mail to update Coach with your latest YouTube video, or a phone call to discuss the program in greater detail, be sure the communication has “grip” and it is part of a seamless effort in developing a meaningful dialogue.
Nowadays, the volume of interested prospects can be overwhelming for a college coach and the trick to effective dialogue is to simply intend to assist Coach in the recruiting process. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Don’t be afraid to initiate contact with a college coach.
- Plan your communications thoroughly and be sure the messages you send have value to your case as a prospective student-athlete.
- Keep every communication simple, concrete and “on point.”
- Stay persistent in your effort (Remember, coaches are bound to very strict contact rules whereby they cannot, in many cases, return phone calls, e-mails etc.).
By executing a planned approach in communicating with the college coaches you simply control a portion of the playing field. This approach may appear aggressive, but when tempered with care and respect, a good coach will see an intangible asset and a strong character component emerge in the prospect.
There’s a lot of chatter out there about college athletics being a business and although we all may not agree with this statement in principle, I find it happens to be true. Therefore, prospects and families have two choices: 1) They can ignore it or 2) You can embrace it and learn to work within the system.
Whether it is a job interview, running for class president or navigating the college search, the “competition component” plays its part in the ultimate success of any journey. “Sticking your foot in the door” is just one of many tactics that really hits home when I advise families to “ratchet up” their effort.
Simply put, if you happen to be among the majority of college prospects that are lumped into the “B file” of candidates, you are still active and in the hunt, but the competition for a roster spot is fierce. What can you do to rise above the rest of the pack?
- Be prepared for negative feedback and possible rejection. “You are only as good as your worst moment.”
- Remain steadfast and persistent in your effort. “The true measure of a champion is not when things are going well, but when your back is in the corner.”
- Re-evaluate your plan with your recruiting team on a regular basis. “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
- Execute with passion. “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.”
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone. “Every noble work is first impossible.”
- Never lose sight of your goal. “Dreams are whispers from the soul.”
The college search for athletes has evolved to new and exciting levels. The competition for athletic scholarship, admission support and even walk-on opportunities is fierce. Embrace this and you will appreciate the stakes in an effort to realize the importance of careful planning and impeccable execution during every step of your college quest.
Remember, there is a fine line between a nice nudge and being a royal pain in cultivating sincere relationships with the college coaches. Rejection can be one step away, but so too is opportunity. Closing in on that last centimeter of chance and distancing yourself from the competition takes courage, and we all know too well that “chance favors the bold.”
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.