You’re a high school athlete with aims of being a college athlete. To do so, you’ll have to communicate with college coaches, and you’ll probably have to do it quite a bit.
Poor communication can be an absolute killer in recruiting. Conversations are how bonds between athletes and coaches are built, but it can be a tough road to navigate with a large age and experience difference and the inexperience of going through the recruiting process before from the perspective of an athlete. But coaches want to get to know recruits better to know if they’ll be a fit for their program’s culture, and direct communication is one of the main ways to do that.
So, how should recruits communicate with college coaches?
How to Communicate with College Coaches
Don’t Have Your Parents Speak For You
A coach is recruiting you to enter their program and play for them. Your parents won’t be there, especially if you’re going away from home. That’s not to say your parents should be shut out from the process – quite the opposite. But don’t have your parents reach out to coaches for you.
Can your parents proofread an email before you send it? Absolutely, and it’s probably in your best interest that they do. But it should be from you, sent from you, and represent you.
Coaches will want to talk to your parents at some point, maybe on a home or school visit, maybe otherwise. But you, the recruit, should be the one generally communicating with coaches directly.
This goes hand-in-hand with not having your parents be your spokespeople. Sometimes in this world, you have to put yourself in front of an opportunity to make it possible. Getting recruited to the school you want can be one of those times.
If you’re at a camp or showcase, walk up to coaches and introduce yourself to them, communicating directly. Even if there isn’t much conversation, just that show of respect and maturity will be memorable – at least more memorable than being one of the many faces at the event who fades away in their memory.
When you’re sending an email to a school to introduce yourself, make sure you have an introductory note explaining a bit about you, like your hometown, your contact details, your GPA, and other basic information. Keep it short and sweet – they don’t need your life’s story right off the bat. Include a good highlight tape and thank them in advance for taking a look. Always be cordial, always be professional. In many ways, you’re applying for a job. Keep that in mind.
Spelling & Grammar
Misspelled words and poor grammar make for a negative first impression. Coaches are people, too, and people generally don’t react well to simple mistakes like that, which signify a lack of care or seriousness of the situation.
This is where your parents can help you out with their proofreading, or at least another set of eyes. But do your own editing as well to be sure you feel good about everything you’ve written.
Don’t Waste a Coach’s Time
If you’re making initial contact with a coach or are early on a relationship, understand when the time is right for certain questions, and understand that some information is better researched online on your own time than asked directly to a coach.
Want to know exactly where a school is located? That will take seconds to learn online. Want to learn about what academic programs are strongest at a school? That will take seconds to learn online. Want to know a coach’s background? That will take seconds to learn online.
If you’re going to ask something, it should be something that can’t be easily researched, such as wondering what the coach is looking for in a player at your position, or what the culture is like within the program. These are more open-ended questions that will allow a coach to give you more inside info into what they have to offer. It’ll make your communication much better and make coaches feel like they’re offering you insight, not regurgitating basic facts.
You Are Not the Center of the Universe
Coaches are adults with extremely busy lives. In the recruiting sphere alone, they could be in contact with hundreds, potentially thousands, of athletes just like yourself. They also have their current team and staff to worry about, and the coaching profession isn’t known for short hours. And all of this says nothing about the time and energy it takes to have a spouse, kids, and other adult responsibilities.
When you communicate with a coach, don’t talk to them like you’re the only thing they have going on in their life. Nobody likes this, whether they’re a coach who is recruiting or any other human in any other situation. We all have lives, plans, and a finite amount of time. And definitely don’t try to assign a coach a task.
For example, don’t tell a coach out of the blue, “Call me tonight after 8 p.m.” That forces your schedule onto them. Instead, ask a coach, “Hey, I’d like to talk to, when would a good time for you?” This politely lets a coach know you’d like to talk to them, and that you will be flexible to ensure it happens at a time that’s convenient for them.
Remember, Coaches Are Just Humans
What’s the truly best way to communicate with college coaches? As if they’re humans, which – surprise! – they are.
Don’t be rude, don’t be pushy, don’t be overbearing. Nobody likes when people are like this in any setting in any situation ever. All people respond well to being treated with dignity and respect, so do that when communicating with coaches, too.
If you’re a recruit looking to play college sports, you’re very young, and you might not be confident in your conversational skills. That’s okay, coaches understand these things. A little bit of awkwardness isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially if it’s clear that you’re trying. There are ways to improve your conversational abilities, too, which not only will help you in the recruiting sphere but are also quite handy in every aspect of life and will be well beyond your teenage years.