“Hello my son Patrick is a verified member of NCSA and he is getting some coaches e-mailing him and also looking at him at his school! I worry because he is not shy on a daily basis, but I keep encouraging him to call the coaches and he freezes. He has e-mailed back but nothing concrete is happening! Any suggestions?” Thank-you Nancy
It is rarely easy for a high school student-athlete to communicate effectively with an adult – I am sure the parents reading this can attest to that. It becomes even more difficult when that adult happens to be a college coach and the student-athlete is nervous. Making matters even worse is that communicating with a college coach is a critical part of the relationship building process for a student-athlete. So, what can an athlete do? What can a parent do to help their athlete?
Here are two steps that will help:
1) Start early. It might sound cliché, but the earlier an athlete begins to work on their communication skills with a college coach, the better they will be. The first step is to understand what might take place during a conversation with the coach. Mostly, the discussion will involve questions from the college coach and an opportunity for the recruit to ask their own questions. Recruits can get a list of questions they might receive from a college coach here. Preparing answers ahead of time might alleviate some of the nerves. (Try to avoid sounding scripted though!) Also, recruits should prepare a list of at least 15-20 questions that they can ask a college coach. Having a list of well thought out questions that cannot easily be found on the school’s website will go a long way towards impressing a coach. Here is a link to an article about one recruit who is asking 50 questions to each coach interested. Remember, athletes are allowed to call a college coach at any time – even as early as freshmen year. Take advantage and start early!
2) Practice. Again, this advice might not be groundbreaking, but it WILL help. How can you practice? Two ways:
Mock Phone Calls with Parents – Parents should play the role of the college coach and actually go through a fake phone call. Parents can use the questions here and conduct a mock phone call with your athletes. You can even do this on your cell phone if you really want to replicate the situation. I would recommend throwing a “curve ball” or two at your athlete to see how they think on their feet and react. Also, make sure you ask your athlete asks you questions and provide answers as though you are a college coach. Pay attention to their introduction and closing to give some advice about making sure it is mature and effective.
Real Phone Calls with College Coaches – As we mentioned above, recruits can all a coach WHENEVER they want…so try it out. Pick a college close to home, preferably a DIII school since they are not restricted as to when they can talk with recruits on the phone – and give it a whirl. It does not have to be a coach at your dream school which should help limit the anxiety. If you call them at an early age, they most likely are not going to cross you off their list and might even been so impressed that they ADD you to their recruiting board. However, if you wait until you are a senior, it could be too late.
Recruits are always being evaluated by a college coach – even during a simple phone call. If a coach is talking to two athletes with similar athletic and academic ability, a phone call could make a big difference. Who is going to leave a better impression: The recruit who starts practicing college coach phone calls freshmen and sophomore year or the one who waits until second semester senior year to even think about it? Start early and practice. Simple, yet effective.