Dan Tudor

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Why College Coaches Need to Pay Attention to DetailMonday, August 29th, 2011

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A Defense for Negative Recruiting When Bad News HitsMonday, August 29th, 2011

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Why “Relaxed” Prospects Are WAY Better Than “Excited” ProspectsMonday, August 22nd, 2011

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Strategies for Combating the Too-Close-To-Home ObjectionMonday, August 15th, 2011

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

How Do You Know When New Technology Is NOT Right for You?Monday, August 15th, 2011

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Strategies for Combating the Too-Far-From-Home ObjectionSunday, August 7th, 2011

It struck me a few days ago how often the “distance from home” objection so completely controls whether or not your recruit takes your interest seriously or not, and ends up packing up the family car and coming to your campus for four years.

That epiphany probably shouldn’t have made such an impact on me, but some previous conversations this past week with our clients – who are working with us to map out the start of this next recruiting season – seemed to be coming face-t0-face with the hard, cold reality that they weren’t exactly sure how high to place their really good out-of-area recruits on their developing recruiting boards.

For a lot of coaches – maybe you, too – the distance from home question can end recruiting before it even begins.

The difficult part of all this is the prospect, and their parents.  Once in a while, you’ll get an honest family who tells you right from the start that they don’t want to compete that far away from home, and politely suggests that you don’t need to put any energy into trying to convince them otherwise.

It works otherwise, too: There are some prospects who won’t want to compete for you because you’re too close to home.  They want something different in a college, and since they’ve already defined you over the past few years, it’s going to be a long-shot to convince them that you deserve to be a serious consideration.

As a college recruiter, the problem with these all-too-familiar scenarios is simple:

Your prospects will rarely offer-up their true feelings and tell you how they feel.

Today, I want to make the case that determining those feelings right away is probably one of the hurdles I’ve seen really good recruiters clear, leading to consistently good recruiting classes.  They know when to pursue the out-of-area recruits, and when to cut bait and run.  And they don’t waste a lot of time making that determination.

Taking a cue from these recruiting pros, and mixing it with what I’ve seen work over the years, here are five proven ways to figure-out whether you should invest your time and resources in that tantilizingly good prospect in an area code far, far away:

  1. As soon as possible, ask the prospect why they want to look at out-of-area colleges.  If they don’t give you an answer that centers around a specific reason that they can verbalize, that should be a red flag as a college recruiter.  Answers like “oh I don’t know, I just want to see what’s out there” or “my parents want me to keep an open mind and listen to everyone that’s interested in me” don’t necessarily mean you should throw in the towel, but it should cause you to really dig deep and find out some additional thinking behind those statements.  If, on the other hand, you hear your out-of-area prospect say something like “I really want to look at a college in your part of the country because I’m looking for warmer weather, and plus my best friend is going there and she loves it”, then that’s a great indicator that there’s a substanitive reason behind their desire to talk to you.  Ask the question, coach.
  2. Ask the parents why they would want to see their son/daughter go “away” to college.  You need to phrase it exactly like I worded it, coach:  “So, why do you want to see your son/daughter go away to college?”  If you hear a response like, “well, I don’t really want them to go away…I just think it’s smart to keep all their options open”, approach with caution!  Our research shows that when push comes to shove, mom or dad (or both) is going to play the emotion card and push for them to stay close to home.  Again, a response like that doesn’t mean you give up; however, it does mean that you really need to have the parents define why they see you – as an out-of-area program – being a smart consideration for their son or daughter.  Asking this question will help you get an answer that tells you how to move forward.
  3. Ask sooner rather than later.  Want to totally bog-down your recruiting efforts with out-of-area recruits?  Wait until later in the process before asking them and their parents those questions.  Asking them at the start will tell you exactly what you need to do next in determining whether you keep pursuing that recruit, or walk away before you begin to invest your valuable time and resources.  “Wait an minute,” you say.  “Did you just say that maybe I should keep pursuing that recruit who is giving me those red flag warning statements you just listed???”  Yes…
  4. Keep recruiting them, but do it efficiently.  Wishy-washy out-of-area recruits may change their mind as the recruiting process moves forward:  Some of their other local top choices may not come through with an offer, they may like what you have to say about your college and your program as time goes on…in short, teenagers and their parents change their minds.  While I’m advising that you approach with caution, I still think a consistent message sent efficiently (group letters and email) is smart to do.  Too many coaches give up too soon and just stop messaging those kids at the first sign of trouble.  Don’t be one of those coaches.  Continue to consistently, efficiently sell them on you and your program.
  5. The good prospects that reach out to you should be your priorities.  Note that I said “good” prospects, not all prospects.  When you have a solid recruit who can compete for you at your level, and they have taken the time to personally send you something in the mail or fill out your online recruiting questionnaire, that shows a high degree of interest in you no matter where they live.  These prospects have invested their time in you; if they’re good, do the same.  Show special interest.  (Note:  We find that another outstanding source of verified out-of-area prospects is NCSA Athletic Recruiting.  Those athletes can indicate what areas of the country they are open to considering, removing a lot of the work associated with determining whether or not to add them to your recruiting list.  The number of college coaches we see using this free resource is really spiking this time of year, so you might want to take a look at their searchable database).

One final note on out-of-area prospects:

When we conduct our detailed athlete surveys as a part of our On-Campus Workshops when we are asked to teach at college athletic departments, we’re finding a real rise in the willingness to go far away from home from a significant number of top prospects.  The reasons vary greatly, from perceived academic opportunities in particular parts of the country to a desire to experience a different climate.  The point is, they’re willing to listen.

Your job?  Ask smart questions on the topic, be consistent and persistent, and look for signs that your prospect is more open than most to looking seriously at out-of-area scholarship and playing opportunities.

If we haven’t been to your campus yet, make this year the year you get us there!  We’ve worked with high level Division I athletic departments, as well as small, private college coaching staffs, with one goal in mind:  Finding the right story to tell for those coaches, and training them to be the most effective recruiters possible.  For all the details on reserving a date for your athletic department, click here.

Will Apple’s Lion Release Roar for College Coaches?Monday, August 1st, 2011

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A Simple Question That Gets a Better ResponseMonday, August 1st, 2011

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