How to contact college coaches is a question families ask every day. While coaches have their different methods for scouting out new talent, the best way to ensure a coach knows about you is to contact the coach yourself. Email, texting, phone calls and even social media messages are all acceptable ways for student-athletes to contact college coaches. Learn more about when and how to start communication with college coaches using these methods below.
The best way to contact college coaches is through email. An introductory email is an important first step in the process and is a great way to initially send your key information to college coaches. Read more about how to write an introductory email that will get a college coach’s attention.
If the contact period has started for your sport (June 15 after sophomore year or September 1 of junior year), following up with a phone call to the coach is an important step. Since D1 coaches are not allowed to talk to you before the contact period, there is not much value in giving them an early call. Read more about how to call college coaches—as well as how to leave your best voicemail.
Though recruiting relies primarily on digital methods, coaches may still send different types of recruiting letters to athletes. And recruits should respond. Learn more about the different types of recruiting letters you may receive—and how to respond.
Sometimes the most difficult part of the recruiting process is keeping the lines of communication open with college coaches. A few great reasons to reach out to a coach include: when you have new athletic or academic stats, you’re planning on visiting their school and want to set up a meeting, or you want to invite them to an upcoming tournament where you’ll be competing. Learn more about texting college coaches or direct messaging coaches through your social media platforms.
College coaches rely on phone calls, texts, emails, letters and social media to start communication with recruits. At times, it can be hard to determine what a specific type of coach communication really means. Below we’ve outlined the different types of coach contact and how to respond to each.
College coaches send out mass emails with the expectation that student-athletes who are interested in their program will respond. If an athlete skips over a generic email, the college coach may assume they aren’t interested and move on. Here are steps student-athletes can take to turn generic emails into opportunities to build a relationships with college coaches.
Whether the athlete is seriously considering the program or not, they should draft a response thanking the coach for their email. It’s important for athletes to leave a good impression, regardless of their interest level in a particular program. If the athlete is interested, they should include a link to their NCSA Recruiting Profile and the contact information of a previous or current coach who the college coach can to reach out for a reference.
Personalized college recruiting letters are a good indicator that a college coach is interested in recruiting an athlete. Coaches reserve these letters for athletes who have passed their initial evaluation and use them as a way to gauge if the recruit is interested in that program.
Recruits should respond to personalized emails as soon as possible, addressing any questions the coach asked and including the athlete’s upcoming schedule. It’s a good idea to follow up with a phone call and begin discussing a campus visit.
When a college coach takes the time to send a handwritten recruiting letter, it’s a clear sign that the recruit is high-valued. However, don’t take this gesture as a sure sign that the recruit will receive an offer. Until a recruit has an offer in hand, they still need to prove to the coach that they would be a great addition to the team.
The best way to respond to a handwritten letter is with another handwritten letter. Write a simple thank you note, acknowledging that you received their letter. Recruits should also follow up with a phone call to let the coach know they appreciate their message and that they are interested in the program.
College coaches will set up phone calls with recruits that they are strongly interested in. These conversations give coaches and recruits an opportunity to build a relationship and ask important recruiting questions.
Before the call, research the school and program and prepare questions for the coach. It can also be helpful to practice the call with a family member or friend to work out any kinks. After the phone call, the athlete should follow up with an email letting the coach know they enjoyed the conversation. Include any additional piece of information the coach may have requested over the phone, as well as any questions the recruit didn’t have a chance to ask on the call.
Much like a mass recruiting email, college coaches send generic camp invites to a long list of student-athletes. Regardless of whether you plan to attend a camp, always respond. Ignoring an invite is never a good recruiting move, so if you don’t plan to attend, respectfully decline the invitation. If you do plan to attend, let the coach know and follow the registration process.
College coaches send two different types of camp invites: personalized and generic. Athletes who receive a personal invite from a school’s coaching staff are on the coach’s radar and are one of the select few invited to the camp as a recruit! How do you know if it’s a personalized camp invite? A good indicator is if the coach mentions the athlete’s highlight video or has viewed their profile. Another good sign is if a coach includes their personal contact information, like a cell phone number.
Athletes who receive a somewhat generic invite to the camp probably aren’t currently a recruit. Keep in mind, there is still value in attending as a camper. The purpose in that case is an opportunity to see how you stack up against other athletes and get some great coaching advice. If you’re not receiving personalized invites to camps yet, it might be time to reconsider your target list of schools and division level.
Receiving a camp invite provides athletes an opportunity to start a conversation with a coach and the chance to develop as a player. When a recruit receives a camp invite, they should always respond and attempt to get a conversation going. This allows recruits to begin building a relationship with the coach and hopefully get on the list of athletes they’ll be evaluating at camp. If the coach responds, that probably means they have some interest.
Student-athletes should respond by thanking the coach for the invitation and confirm whether they will attend. If the athlete is unable to attend, include a schedule of their upcoming games and tournaments so the coach has other opportunities to watch them compete. If it’s a generic invite, the recruit should also include their highlight/skills video and link to their NCSA Recruiting Profile.
Recruiting questionnaires are generally the first piece of mail recruits receive from college coaches. These forms are designed to educate the student-athlete on the school and collect some information that the coach can use as they build their list of prospective recruits.
If the recruit is or might be interested in the program, complete the recruiting questionnaire. This is just one of many steps that student-athletes will take as they start communication with coaches. If the recruit is an upperclassman, they should contact the college coach to let them know that they filled out their questionnaire and are very interested in the program.
Start your outreach by gathering all the information you’ll need to include in your communications to college coaches. Your NCSA Recruiting Profile is a great place to keep all your important recruiting information. When communicating with college coaches, don’t forget to include a link to your profile so they can easily view everything they need to see to conduct their initial evaluation of you. Key information includes:
Finding contact info is easy—99% of college coaches have their email addresses or phone numbers listed in the athletic staff directory on the school’s website. But depending on the college and the sport, you might have better luck contacting someone other than the head coach.
To make this process easier, NCSA has a College Search feature that provides the contact information for coaches at every school across the U.S. Here are some key pieces of information to look for in your search for coach contact information:
Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, you’re ready to start reaching out to college coaches.
In addition to the list above, here are four ways that student-athletes can better prepare coach communication:
In short: yes. Unless you’re one of the top athletes in the country, you’ll need to be proactive to get recruited by college coaches. There’s a common misconception that high school athletes aren’t allowed to contact college coaches until their junior year of high school. In reality, athletes can reach out to coaches any time they want—NCAA rules only limit when college coaches can contact recruits. Even when college coaches can’t directly respond, they can still read your emails and follow you on social media.
The recruiting process is starting earlier each year, with recruits as young as 12 or 13 years old getting interest from college coaches. However, that does not mean every athlete is ready to start reaching out to coaches as an 8th grader. Start researching schools and understanding the level of play expected at each one. Then, when you have developed your skills to be able to stand out to the coaches at those schools, begin your outreach. For athletes who play up on varsity during their freshman year of high school, they may be ready to start contacting college coaches then.
For athletes who play up on varsity during their freshman year of high school, they may be ready to start contacting college coaches then. For athletes who hit their stride later in their sophomore year, this could be a better time to initiate contact with college coaches. All you need to know about coaches and recruiting services.
It is advisable to try to reach out to coaches before the athlete’s junior year, but this is not a hard and fast rule. For athletes who hit a later growth spurt or mature later, junior year may be the best time to start contacting college coaches. For major Division 1 sports, it’s the norm for athletes and families to begin reaching out and going on unofficial visits as early as 8th grade or freshman year.
If you are not sure whether you are ready to initiate communication with coaches, contact our recruiting force at 866-495-5172. We will conduct a free evaluation of where you are in your recruiting, explain how to contact college coaches and walk you through your personalized next steps.
It can also be effective to contact a coach based on their recruiting calendar. For example, the peak recruiting season for fall sports (football, soccer, volleyball) is during late winter and early spring. While coaches recruit all year round, they have more time to actively search for recruits and conduct evaluations after the season ends. During the summer, be sure to give coaches a heads up on camps and showcases you plan to attend.
However, the NCAA limits when college coaches can communicate with athletes. Current NCAA recruiting rules prohibit all phone, text and email communication between athletes or their parents/guardians and Division 1 coaches until June 15 after their sophomore year or September 1 of their junior year, depending on the sport.
For international athletes, it’s important to be proactive to get noticed by a college coach, instead of waiting for a coach to reach out to you first. In our recruiting guide for international athletes, we include tips for contacting college coaches.
Even before college coaches can begin recruiting, they can read recruits’ emails and follow them on social media to track their athletic progress.
During the recruiting process, it is essential that prospective student-athletes reach out to college coaches. Not only are coaches busy, but this also shows initiative on the part of the prospect. But how should prospects show that they are interested in a program? In this video, Gettysburg College men’s basketball coach B.J. Dunne shares how student-athletes can communicate with coaches and show that they are proactive.
Before contacting a college coach, it is important for the recruit to prepare questions. When recruits ask questions, it shows the coach that they are genuinely interested in the program and want to learn more. When deciding what to ask college coaches, recruits should focus on four categories: academic, athletic, cultural and financial fit.
A common question that families have is “when can college coaches contact high school athletes?” For most sports in the NCAA, coaches can start contacting recruits starting either June 15 after their sophomore year of high school or September 1 of their junior year (check the recruiting rules to find out the exact date for your sport). The NAIA has more relaxed rules, and coaches can generally contact athletes at any point. However, because NAIA schools tend to have smaller programs with more limited budgets, they usually don’t start the recruiting process as early as NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 schools.
Insider tip: Your high school or club coach can play a key role in your recruiting process. They can reach out to college coaches on your behalf at any time. Before college coaches are allowed to communicate with you, your high school or club coach can contact them to find out their level of interest in you as a recruit. They can also recommend you to college coaches in their network to help you get discovered. To support high school or club coaches during the recruiting process, we launched NCSA Team Edition.
A call with a college coach is very similar to a job interview. Coaches are trying to learn more about a recruit and will come prepared with a set of questions to ask. While this might be intimidating, when coaches ask questions, it means they’re interested in the student-athlete. Here’s a list of questions college coaches will ask that student-athletes should be prepared to answer:
Throughout the recruiting process, the athletes—not their parents—should be contacting college coaches. Coach Taylor White, an NCSA recruiting expert who has coached baseball at the D1 level, explains, “I’m not recruiting the parent—I’m recruiting the student-athlete. The second I feel the parent is overstepping their bounds, I start to raise a red flag, especially early on.” He adds that, especially at the beginning of the recruiting process, it is crucial for coaches to get to know the student-athlete.
Emails, phone calls, texts, DMs, etc. should all come from the athlete. Not only will it help the coach get a better understanding of who the recruit is as a person, but it will show the coach that the athlete is responsible enough to manage their own recruiting process.
If an athlete just doesn’t know what to say or is extremely shy, parents can communicate with coaches through their student-athlete. Parents can tell their athlete the questions they want answered, and have the athlete send them—in their own words—to the college coach. That way, the coach will see that the athlete is engaged in the process, and parents will get their questions answered.
Parents can also role play phone calls with their student-athlete to help them prepare to talk on the phone with college coaches. Practicing and preparation make the process much easier. If an athlete really won’t contact college coaches, it is better for the parents to reach out than for no outreach to happen, but if possible, communication should come from the athlete.
Coach Taylor does point out a few times when parents can step in and contact college coaches. At the end of the recruiting process, when the conversation turns to financials and logistics, coaches usually expect parents to be highly involved in the conversation. During an official or unofficial visit, parents should ask their questions related to academic or logistical concerns. Coach Taylor recommends that parents take this opportunity to address their questions related to classes, dorm rooms, housing, meals, workout programs, study halls, tutors, etc.
Once their athlete has received an offer, parents can start asking financial aid questions. Coach Taylor suggests waiting until a contract has been communicated to the student-athlete and the coach has expressed an offer before parents start financial aid conversations.
Parents often wonder how they can help their student-athlete stay on track in the athletic recruiting process. While college athletic recruiting is a team effort, it’s essential for sports parents to avoid taking the lead when interacting with college coaches.
Here are three do’s and three don’ts for parents of high school athletes:
Insider Tip: NCSA helps athletes find the best academic, athletic, financial and social fit, and in turn, athletes who use NCSA are 18% more likely to stay on their team roster when compared to athletes who do not use NCSA.
To learn more about a parents’ role in the recruiting process, watch our recruiting experts break down what parents of athletes shouldn’t do in the recruiting process.
If a college coach doesn’t respond right away, don’t worry. Coaches have busy schedules and can sometimes take up two weeks to respond to a recruit’s email.
While recruits are encouraged to send coaches athletic and academic achievements and new highlight videos every few months, it is important to know when it’s time to stop reaching out.
Recruits should stop reaching out to a program:
D3 Head Softball Coach Leslie Huntington, from The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, breaks down how to contact college coaches during the coronavirus pandemic.
Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.