How to Contact College Coaches
by Email, Text, DMs, and Phone Calls
Impact of Coronavirus on College Recruiting: The NCAA has continued its suspension of all in-person recruiting through August 31; Different rules have been approved for the D2 level. The NCAA also granted an extra year of eligibility to college seniors. In addition, due to the closure of college campuses, official and unofficial visits as well as college camps are on hold. NCSA will continue to provide updated information on our coronavirus resources section and our blog. We’re also sharing survey results from 600+ college coaches, in which we asked how they think COVID-19 will impact recruiting.
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.
4 steps to contacting college coaches
- Send an introductory email
- Follow-up with a phone call
- Respond to any recruiting letters
- Keep in touch with coaches
Step 1: Send an introductory email to the coach
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.
Step 2: Follow-up with a call to the coach
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.
Step 3: Respond to recruiting letters from college coaches
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.
Step 4: Keep in touch with coaches and update them with new stats
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.
Coach contact (example scenarios and next steps)
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.
A mass email from a college coach
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 a generic communication into an opportunity build a relationship with college coaches.
How to respond to mass emails from 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 to for a reference.
A personal email from a college coach
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.
How to respond to a personal email from a college coach:
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.
A personal letter from a college coach
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.
How to respond to a personal letter from a college coach:
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.
A phone call from a college coach
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.
How to prepare for, and respond to, a phone call from a college coach:
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.
A college camp invite from a coach
Much like a mass recruiting email, college coaches send generic camp invites to a long list of student-athletes. Whether a recruit receives a personalized or generic invite, it is important to consider attending. While a generic invite may have been sent to many student-athletes, attending the camp gives the recruit an opportunity to impress the coach. Recruits who receive a personalized camp invite are very likely getting recruited by that coach. 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.
How to respond to a college camp invite from a coach:
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.
A coach request to complete a recruiting questionnaire
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.
How to respond to a coach request to complete a recruiting questionnaire:
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.
Preparing for coach communication
Start your outreach by gathering all the information you’ll need to include in your communications to college coaches. Your NCSA 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:
- Your highlight or skills video
- Your best athletic stats—verified, third-party stats from a combine or other event are preferred
- Academic information, such as GPA and ACT/SAT scores if applicable
- Contact information for you, your parents and your club/high school coach, plus the contact information for any personal trainers that you have
- Schedule of where and when you’ll be competing throughout the upcoming season
Next, you’ll need to research coach contact information. Check out the school’s athletic staff directory on the institution’s website to find coaches’ phone number and email. 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:
- Does the program have a recruiting coordinator? Larger programs tend to have a recruiting staff, including recruiting coordinators. All recruiting will funnel through that person, so when you’re looking to send an introductory email, this is the best person to start with.
- No recruiting coordinator? See if the program has a position coach. A great next person to contact is the coach for your position.
- No position coach? Check for an assistant coach. When the previous two options fail, look for the contact information for the assistant coach. If you can’t find that, you can start with the head coach; however, the head coach is going to be a little more difficult to get ahold of initially.
- Find something that stands out to you about that school. Coaches want to see that you are engaged and interested in their program. Including a personalized sentence or two about why you would like to join their program goes a long way.
Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, you’re ready to start reaching out to college coaches.
Additional tips for effective coach communications
In addition to the list above, here are four ways that student-athletes can better prepare coach communication:
- Narrow down the college list. Research the schools that the recruit is interested in and/or received mail from to see which programs best meet their needs athletically, academically, financially and socially. Then, create a realistic list of schools that the recruit can begin contacting.
- Send an introductory email to college coaches. Every introductory email should demonstrate that the recruit has researched the program and explain why, specifically, they would make a great addition to the team. Learn how to make an introductory email personalized and memorable.
- Use social media to get recruited. College coaches are using social media more and more to connect with recruits. A great way to get the attention of a college coach is by sending a direct message to their Twitter or Instagram account. Learn more about how athletes use social media for recruiting.
- Pick up the phone. This is generally the most effective way to connect with college coaches who have busy schedules. Before picking up the phone, recruits should prepare questions for the coach and practice with a friend or family member.
When should I start contacting college coaches?
There is a common misconception that athletes cannot start contacting college coaches until their junior year of high school. In reality, athletes can reach out to coaches at any time—and they should take advantage of this.
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 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. 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.
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.
Even before college coaches can begin recruiting, they can read recruits’ emails and follow them on social media to track their athletic progress.
What to ask college coaches
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.
- What are the most common majors amongst athletes on the roster?
- What academic resources are available to the team, such as an advisor and/or tutoring?
- Are there any specific majors that aren’t feasible to pursue for athletes in my sport?
- What academic goals do you set for your team?
- Can you tell me about your recruiting class for my graduation year?
- How would you prefer I share updates with you on my progress?
- Do you have any recommendations for camps, combines or showcases that I should attend?
- Where do you typically evaluate your athletes?
- Would you be available to meet with me if I schedule an unofficial visit at your school?
- What is the current team dynamic like?
- Does the team interact outside of practice and competition?
- What is the housing situation for athletes?
- Is it typical for athletes to stay on campus during the summer?
- Does the program have athletic scholarship funds available?
- Does the school offer work-study opportunities to help supplement scholarship aid?
- What specific expenses are covered by the financial aid and/or athletic scholarship package?
- What factors do you consider when determining an athlete’s financial aid and/or athletic scholarship package each year?
When can college coaches contact you?
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.
- Football, Baseball, Softball, Men’s Lacrosse, Women’s Lacrosse, Women’s Basketball: No coach communication until September 1 of junior year.
- All other D1 sports: No coach communication until June 15 after sophomore year.
- Men’s Ice Hockey: No coach communication until January 1 of sophomore year.
Insider tip: Your high school/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/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/club coaches during the recruiting process, we launched NCSA Team Edition.
Questions college coaches will ask
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:
- How’s your season going?
- What are you looking for in a school?
- Where are you at in your recruiting process?
- What other colleges are recruiting you?
- What questions do you have for me?
- What are your GPA and test scores?
- Do you know what majors you are most interested in?
- Describe your strengths and weaknesses as a player.
- What areas are you working to improve?
- What does your training plan look like?
- Why are interested in my school and/or program?
- Why do you think you can play at this level?
- How will your strengths positively contribute to this program’s current roster and needs?
Should parents talk to high school coaches?
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 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.
How to send film to college coaches
- Upload the athlete’s highlight video to their NCSA recruiting profile and YouTube to increase exposure.
- If this is the first time the athlete is reaching out to a coach, draft an introductory email with the recruit’s basic information, a description of why they are interested in the program and a link to their recruiting profile and highlight video.
- If the recruit has already been in contact with the coaching staff, include a link to new highlight videos in an email about the athlete’s latest athletic achievements and a schedule of upcoming tournaments, showcases, etc.
- The right person to send your video to will vary depending on the program and division level. Research the program to see if they have position-specific coaches or a recruiting coordinator and include them in the email, as well as the head coach. NCSA’s college coach search feature gives student-athletes access to coach contact information, including email addresses and phone numbers, from every school across the U.S. This resource helps student-athletes save time and focus their energy on contacting and building relationship with coaches.
How to talk to college coaches on the phone (and video chat): Do’s and don’ts
- Find a quiet room and remove any distractions. If a recruit is distracted during the call, the coach will likely assume they aren’t interested in the program.
- Be clear about why the recruit is interested in the program. The recruit should mention any personal connections they have to the program and what attracted them to the school or program.
- Explain why the recruit is a good fit for his program. Coaches want to know how a recruit can contribute to the team’s growth and success.
- Answer the coach’s questions fully and clearly. Prior to the call, recruits should practice answering questions college coaches will ask with a family member or friend, so they can confidently deliver their answers during the call.
- Prepare questions for the coach. Don’t go into a call without preparing a few questions to ask the coach. Asking questions is a good indicator to coaches that an athlete is genuinely interested in their program.
- Don’t be timid. This is an opportunity for recruits to sell their potential and for coaches to get to know a recruit’s personality.
- Don’t talk about only athletics. Coaches want well-rounded athletes, so recruits should highlight how they can positively contribute to the team both athletically and academically.
- Don’t dominate the call. It is important for recruits to find a balance between talking about themselves and their interest in the program and letting the coach ask questions.
How long do college coaches take to respond? When should I stop reaching out?
If a college coaches 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:
- If they do not qualify athletically or academically. Research the school’s academic criteria and discuss with the coaching staff whether the recruit meets the team’s athletic standards.
- If the coach has directly told the recruit that they are no longer recruiting for their position.
- If the program has finalized their roster for the student-athlete’s recruiting class.
How to contact college coaches during COVID-19
D3 Head Softball Coach Leslie Huntington, from The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, breaks down how to contact college coaches during the coronavirus pandemic.