Communication with College Coaches: Striking a Balance

Tom KovicCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 7: Coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators talks with suspended linebacker Brandon Spikes #51 before play against the Vanderbilt Commodores November 7, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Effective communication between a family and college coaches can be a critical component to the final choice in recruit's college search.

If a coach's mission is clear, then the manner in which he communicates becomes the vehicle that will move his plan forward in your chosen direction. On the other hand, ill-prepared communication can cause confusion and misdirection. The ship moves, but with a weak rudder.

Communication should be initiated early on by a family, and preferably by the prospect. For example, a prospect may call or e-mail a coach at any time, with rare exceptions. An initial letter of introduction is a great way to begin, but follow-ups by e-mail and by phone are very important.

The important point here is simply: Prospects who practice “persistence with respect” when communicating with coaches will have a better chance at grabbing attention.

If there is a proverbial “red flag” when it comes to communication, I can say with confidence that “calling just for the sake of calling” will not carry much weight with college coaches. Coaches are looking for information that will drive your chances in remaining in the “A” recruiting file. Whether it is news about improved scores on your ACT exam, or an invitation to a select tournament, give the coaches something that has “grip” and you will improve your chances in boosting your ranking on Coach’s recruiting chart.

I use the term “striking a balance” in communicating with college coaches to develop awareness in prospects and families that effective communication with college coaches is important for two reasons.

First, by developing well-planned information that is pertinent to the college search, the prospect sends a clear message to college coaches that he is well prepared. Secondly, coaches are keen to the importance of time management, and considering the hundreds of potential prospects they work with at any given time, coaches appreciate and will remember the effort prospects make in using communication as an effective recruiting tool.

Communication is critical to cultivating relationships with college coaches, and the better prepared you are, the better you will clearly define yourself and your goals in the eyes of college coaches. This skill will especially help prospects who are in a “gray” area on the coach’s radar, and, depending on where you rank on the priority chart, well-planned communication could make the defining difference between being “in” or “out.”

Practicing communication skills is the same as doing your homework, or spending four hours working on drills in the gym, or on the playing field. The more diligent and sincere your effort, the better prepared you will be in effectively sending and receiving information.

Remember, the manner in which you express yourself, your interests, and your intent can have a direct effect on the level of interest the college coach will offer.

Keep accurate contact logs of all phone calls, e-mails, face-to-face contacts you have with college coaches. This will help families organize information that will assist in future planning. It will also help prepare follow-up communication that will generate fresh “action” items to be discussed during future contacts.

In addition, placing attention on the “little things” like sending personal, handwritten thank-you notes to coaches after a campus visit can make a difference. This personal touch can go a long way, especially if you are on the “bubble” of a coach’s priority list. Small efforts add up in the final analysis.

Remember, the college recruiting process is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

It should be an effort that is tactical, well planned and with the aim of cultivating sincere relationships with the college coaches. Prospects who embrace this tool as an important part of their recruiting arsenal will give themselves the greatest chance at success.

Tom Kovic is the current director of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. He is the author of “Reaching for Excellence” An educational guide for college athletics recruiting. Kovic delivers college recruiting presentations nationwide and he is a regular contributor to several online magazines and professional organizations.


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