Effective Communication and Being a Nice Nudge in College Recruiting

Tom KovicCorrespondent IFebruary 16, 2012

The college search for athletes is a quest, and unless you are the blue chip kid that the coaches are hovering over, you need a vehicle to drive the recruiting process in your favor. Personally, I believe the manner and how often you communicate with college coaches can make a big difference in your results.

If there is an operative term I use with the families 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 you differentiate between the two.

Considering the volume of emails received from high school prospects, college coaches develop personal filtering systems to root out prospects and place in the active recruiting file. Whether it is an email 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 experiencing an effective dialogue is simply intending 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, emails, etc.).

By executing a planned approach in communicating with the college coaches, you simply control the playing field. This approach may appear aggressive, but when tempered with care and respect, a good coach will see an intangible and strong character component emerge in the prospect.

There’s a lot of chatter out there about college athletics being a business and although we may not agree with this statement in principle, it happens to be true. Therefore, prospects and families have two choices: 1) They can ignore it or 2) They 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 hit 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 being a nice nudge and 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 centimeter of chance and distancing yourself from the competition takes courage and we all know too well that “chance favors the bold.”


Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and current President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. For further information visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com).


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