Knowing how to read your recruits is an art form. It allows the best recruiters to recognize fears and concerns that can potentially block a recruit from moving towards making a commitment. As the winter gets underway ask yourself this very important question, “Are your recruits panicking?” If they are, you can bet the coach that relieves their concerns and fears will be in the driver’s seat for a commitment.
Regardless of their athletic ability, recruits are confused at this point in the year. Recruiting is a much longer process then anyone expects it’s going to be. Most recruits envisioned themselves being done with the process by this point in their senior year. This anxiety naturally leads to a fear of them falling behind and not receiving an opportunity to play their chosen sport at the college level.
Over the years I’ve worked with thousands of families throughout their recruiting effort. Some tend to handle this anxiety and stress well. They allow it to focus their recruiting effort and work towards a natural conclusion with the schools they’re working with. Others allow this fear to throw them off course. Unfortunately, some recruits settle for the wrong program and commit to the wrong school for fear of a lack of options. Even worse, I’ve seen some recruits assume they’re not good enough to play at the college level and stop taking the necessary steps to close out the process. The sad reality is I’ve seen some really talented players start to give up on their dream because of the lack of information that is shared with them by the programs they’re working with.
Navigating these waves of emotions as a family can be difficult, but as a coach it should breed opportunity. Families will naturally gravitate towards the coaches who are supplying answers and direction. It should allow you to make up ground on recruits that haven’t been at the forefront of your recruiting focus and it should allow you to close the deal on others who have already been receiving guidance from you.
Recognizing when a family is in need of guidance and directions is the key. Don’t let them get to the panic zone before you step in. Below you’ll find some simple guidelines to understanding how to work with a family at this stage of the process. These tips will allow yourself and your program to earn the trust of a player and more importantly their commitment.
1. Critically analyze your interactions with recruits to accurately gauge their mind frame.
Look for these buzz words and phrases:
- I’m confused about…..
- I’m worried about…….
- I don’t understand……
All of these phrases should send be a red flag for you. If you are not actively getting your recruits to open up, ask them…
- Do you feel comfortable with your understanding of where you stand with my program?
- Are the next steps in the process clear to you and your family?
- What are the most important topics we still need to discuss with you and your family?
Taking them through these questions will allow you to gauge their mind frame. If you identify that a recruit is frustrated or confused, work towards easing their fears with direct, time orientated answers.
2. Don’t let your competition out prep you!
This is a very simple concept. If you’re not the coach providing guidance and answers, your competition will be. Connect with your recruits by being their guiding hand. Families will respond well to this and feel more comfortable about making the investment in your program.
3. Understand that families want to make a commitment.
Use these interactions to frame your discussion on whether or not a family is prepared to make a commitment to your program. Most families experience a great deal of anxiety about wrapping up the process as soon as they possibly can. If you’ve proven to be a great resource and guiding hand, it should be rather simple for you to transition into your commitment discussion.