Now that you have completed all the work of receiving an evaluation, posting an athletic and academic resume online, creating a properly edited and enhanced highlight or skills tape, and distributing all the information to the college coaching community, it is time to turn all that effort into relationships with the college coaches.
College recruiting is all about building relationships. Just like receiving a few letters from college coaches does not constitute serious recruitment, those letters do not signal a relationship with that college coach either. In order to develop a productive relationship with a college coach, every student athlete needs the last Recruiting Requirement: Guidance.
To understand the importance of receiving guidance throughout the recruiting process, it is necessary to examine how college coaches recruit. Last week, I mentioned that college coaches begin their process by casting a wide net initially in the recruiting process, sometimes contacting thousands of student athletes. After that initial marketing campaign, the college coach is then looking for reasons to cross student athletes off their recruiting lists in an effort to make their process more manageable.
What does this mean for student athletes?
Essentially, this means that any mistake at any point in the recruiting process could result in the student athlete’s name being moved down a college coach’s recruiting list, or worse yet, crossed off entirely! At the end of the day, that mistake could result in the absence of a scholarship offer or roster spot for the student athlete.
While this might seem harsh and excessive, it happens all the time. Some families think the idea that a bad highlight skills tape might prevent their son or daughter from receiving a scholarship offer is absurd. Or believe the fact that an unimpressive unofficial visit might be the difference maker is unfair. Unfortunately, it’s the reality of college recruiting.
Again, when thinking about recruiting from the college coach’s viewpoint, it does not seem so excessive. If the coach receives a poor quality highlight tape and is unable to evaluate a student athlete, why would they spend more time and money recruiting that student athlete when they have hundreds or thousands more to choose from? It’s far easier to cross them off their list and put in the next tape.
What most families who go through this process realize very quickly is that it’s extremely complicated and overwhelming. Just think about this short list of situations that a student athlete will face at some point in the process:
- How should I choose which camps to attend?
- How do I know if the coach is seriously interested in me as a recruit?
- What do I do if I sent my video to a coach and have not heard back?
- What should I do on an unofficial visit?
- How do I turn this letter into a relationship?
That is small sample of the types of questions that will come up. Remember, handling any of those situations incorrectly might severely hinder the student athlete from developing a relationship with the college coach.
Aside from the countless situations a student athlete will face, the process is constantly changing. NCAA rules change, college coaches change their recruiting strategies, and the technology used changes.
My advice: Seek guidance from an expert! Make sure your recruiting information and efforts are current.
Given the impact this process will have on a student athlete’s life and the potential damage that can be done if mishandled, make sure to associate yourself with an individual who is an expert on the process. Every year, thousands of families attempt to navigate the process despite on their own being inexperienced. I can think of no other aspect of a student athlete’s life that receives equal neglect. Parents rely on high school and club coaches to teach student athletes how to play their sport. They rely on teachers to educate student athletes in the classroom. The same type of specialized “coach or teacher” should be utilized for the recruiting process as well.
This “Recruiting Coach” can be anyone ranging from the high school or club coach, guidance counselor, or an objective third party organization. Here are some prerequisite requirements to look for when searching for this type of mentor:
* Extensive knowledge about the recruiting process.
This Recruiting Coach should have worked with a number of student athletes who have gone on to successfully compete at the collegiate level. They should be well versed in the steps that need to be taken from a recruit’s standpoint as well as all the NCAA rules and regulations that might affect a student athlete.
* Recent Experience
As mentioned earlier, college recruiting changes every year, if not more frequently. If your Recruiting Coach has not been involved in the recruiting process for a number of years then you need to keep looking. Many parents mistakenly feel their past experience in recruiting can effectively guide their student athlete. Things have simply changed too much
* College Coach Connections
Ideally your Recruiting Coach will have a large number of contacts among the college coaching community. This will increase the likelihood that the Recruiting Coach is familiar with the process and better equipped to guide a student athlete. Simply knowing one or two local college coaches does not constitute college coach connections so make sure to inquire about this during your search process.
The recruiting process is a once in a lifetime experience. Student athletes cannot go back and “redo” this process which places an enormous amount of emphasis on getting it right the first time. Through all my years working with families and student athletes, there is one prevailing themes that has remained true regardless of all the changes in recruiting: “You can never start too early and you can never get too much help.” Make sure every student athlete has an expert in the recruiting process to depend on to ensure they are not being crossed off a college coach’s recruiting list prematurely and given every opportunity to continue playing their sport in college.