Your Guide to Texting College Coaches
While texting has become a favorite means of communication in daily life, it only recently became an acceptable way for college coaches and recruits to correspond in all sports. There has been a lot of ambiguity around texting college coaches in recruiting, with many athletes asking: “Can college coaches text recruits? The answer: Yes, they can! Now, college coaches can send unlimited texts to recruits starting either June 15 or Sept. 1 of the athlete’s junior year (check your sport in the NCAA recruiting calendar to find the exact date when you can start receiving electronic communications from college coaches).
How does texting work in recruiting?
Texting college coaches is a great way to build relationships and get to know a coach in a more informal setting. Usually, texting will start further along in the recruiting process, after the first or second email, and often after your first call with the coach. College coaches don’t give out their phone number to every recruit, so take that as a good sign you are getting recruited by that coach.
While texting college coaches may be a convenient—and more casual—way to interact, a few misplaced texts could damage your prospects. Even though you’ve progressed far enough in your recruiting to get to this point, you are still a recruit, and the coach is still evaluating you. Don't be lazy in your texts to a college coach, and if you’re not sure a text is appropriate, ask your current coach or parents to give a read before you send it.
NCAA rules on texting college coaches
As of April 2016, the NCAA Division I Council deregulated texting for some of the last remaining sports under the ban, including football, cross country, track & field, swimming, and diving. This means that for every sport, texting falls under the umbrella of digital communications, alongside social media direct messages, emails and faxes. As of September 1 or June 15 (for men’s basketball players) of your junior year of high school, coaches can send you unlimited texts. Remember: You can always text a college coach, as well.
If you're diligently looking at the NCAA recruiting rules, you may notice that for DI football and a few other sports, texting is not listed as an acceptable form of digital communications. Rest assured, college coaches can text you at that time. The recruiting rules do state that coaches can only correspond with recruits through a private means of communication. In other words, coaches aren't allowed to post on your Facebook or Twitter feed or engage with you in online discussion forums. Texting, email and fax are all private digital forms of communication and are accepted!
What to include in your text to a college coach
Coach April Hall, who has coached volleyball at the NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III level, explains a key part of texting college coaches: Showing your character in texts is more important than stats. The coach is going to look up your stats or ask questions if they want to know. Focus on showing the coach you care about playing for them.
Coach Hall recommends that, when texting college coaches, you start out your text with something about the coach or the coach's team. Show the coach you’ve done your research and then say something about you. A few ways to kick off your text to a coach:
- Congratulate them on a recent win
- Tell them you were impressed by a recent stat you just saw about their program
- Explain that you're looking forward to watching the team this season
- Thank the coach for looking at your highlight video, coming to see you compete, etc.
Close out your text with something about you. You can tell them about a big win, or invite them to watch you compete. Here are a few text examples:
Hey Coach, good luck Saturday! I'm looking forward to watching the game. I’m getting ready for a big game this weekend too! We have been practicing hard this week and are playing better than ever. Thanks, Jane Doe
Hey Coach, I saw that XYZ University just got an award for the most beautiful campus in Ohio! I've seen pictures, but I'd love to visit this fall. My dad and I are looking at Oct. 30. Would you be free to meet that day? Thanks, John Doe
Hey Coach, Thanks for watching my highlight film! I have a tournament coming up April 13 [link to tournament site.] I'll be playing my first game at 1p.m. Would love to see you there! Thanks, Jane Doe
Before you send that text, go through this checklist
While you may be used to firing off texts to your friends, it pays to take a second or third look over your text to a college coach. Double check each of the following before you hit the send button:
- Are there words misspelled or glaring grammar issues? Sure, texting college coaches may be more casual than emailing, but that doesn’t mean you can get lazy. Major grammar or spelling issues can detract from what you’re trying to say, and might leave the coach with a bad impression.
- Have you used profane language or racial slurs? This may seem like a no-brainer, but it does happen when recruits get too comfortable texting college coaches and start to talk to them like they do their friends. It's great to have friendly conversation but you should never use inappropriate language or images. If you wouldn’t post it on your Twitter feed or show it to your parents, you probably shouldn’t be texting it to a college coach.
- Is it a weird time of day? A good rule of thumb to follow is to avoid texting college coaches between 11p.m. and 6a.m. Even if a coach texts you at midnight, wait until the next morning to respond.
- Have you already sent a few unanswered texts? If you’ve sent 3-4 texts that have gone unanswered, it's time to reevaluate your strategy in texting that college coach. Maybe texting isn’t a great way to communicate with this coach. You can try direct messaging on social media, an email or a phone call. Or perhaps this coach is evaluating if you are still a prospect. Peppering the coach with endless, unanswered texts is not the best way to get them to take notice.
Just like with other types of coach communications, your texts need to be positive, well-thought out and show the coach that you’re interested in their program. The more you can personalize your message, the more the coach will see that you care about their school, and the more they'll be interested in you.