In a previous article, we talked about some proven strategies for combating the “too-far-from-home” recruiting objection.
You’ve all heard it before…a recruit you really want, and may have even been the one that initiated the first contact, tells you “no” because they’ve decided that you’re too far from home.
But many coaches also face the opposite side of the coin:
Recruits that decide you’re the wrong choice for them because you’re too close to home.
The biggest hurdle for you behind this objection, according to our research, is the fact that many prospects will have already defined you. Growing up nearby, they’ve heard people talk about you, made some observations about your campus or your program, and have decided that you’re not “exciting” enough for them as they look forward to the next four years of playing their sport in college.
We’re finding that more and more of this current generation of student-athlete prospects are up for the adventure of going “away” to school. So, if you’re a coach that is recruiting a prospect that is starting to tell you that you’re too close to home to be a serious consideration, here are a few proven strategies that we’ve seen work with the coaches we work with around the country:
- Focus on mom and dad as soon as possible. Whenever you hear a prospect talk about your college being too close to home, you need to find out how your prospect’s parents are playing into the equation. Normally, according to our national research, parents are a primary outside factor in the decision making process of a recruit. The question here is simple: “Why do you want to see your son/daughter play away from home?” We see parents tending to encourage your prospect to stay close to home whenver possible. Find out what their view on the matter is. If you see that there is a conflict within the family (i.e., prospect wants to go out of the area and the parents are hoping he or she stays close to home) then you need to find out which side is going to win out in the end.
- Ask about their friends. One of the big factors in a decision by a recruit to not go far away to play for a program is their friends back home (that includes boyfriends and girlfriends). When you find that a recruit is not open to staying close to home, you’ll want to ask if they’ll miss their friends, or why they see themselves being o.k. with leaving them behind. That doesn’t mean you should use friends or family as a “guilt trip” on your recruit. Rather, you view it as your responsibility to bring up factors that we see playing a major role in the final decision of your recruits so that they are taking into account all possible factors in determining what schools (yours included) they should be considering.
- Get them on campus spending time with your team. Assuming that a big reason your local recruit is not that interested in your program is the fact that they have been on your campus and grown-up nearby hearing the good, the bad and the ugly about the school and your program, you need to get them to take an up-close-and-personal look at what you have to offer as soon as possible. And, since they have probably already made up their mind about you and the campus, I recommend that you have them spend as much time with your team as possible. Not you, coach…your team. The one big thing we see being able to alter their initial assumptions about you and your college is a strong bond with your team. As we conduct studies with current college athletes as a part of our On-Campus Workshop training sessions for athletic departments, they tell us that their ideal percentage of time they’d like to spend just hanging out informally with your team is 60% of their total time on campus. If you can achieve that kind of time with your team, you’ve got a shot of creating a bond that overcomes their initial perception of your program.
- Make the case that staying close to home gives them a choice. Make the phrasing your own, but the basic thinking we’ve seen work goes something like this: “If you stay close to home, you get the best of both worlds: You get to be your own person here on our campus, but still get to see your family and friends whenever you want. Athletes that go far away to school don’t get to have that choice. They’re stuck on a campus far away from home.” It’s a valid concept that you should encourage your recruit to consider.
In summary, let me go back to a thought that I started the article with:
This generation of recruit is more open to going away to college and play their sport. Social media and familiarity with other parts of the country are just two of the reasons we see athletes willing to leave home and compete elsewhere.
In the long run, you’re going to hear more and more of the “too close to home” objections from your recruits. You can overcome it using these strategies some of the time, but you’ll also want to expand your recruiting base so that you can take advantage of this growing trend. There are lots of tools and resources we recommend that make this easier than ever.
That being said, when you find yourself recruiting a local athlete you really, really want on your team, these proven strategies just might do the trick in getting them to take a serious second look at you and your program.