Dan Tudor

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Viral Videos, Social Media and the Lesson for College RecruitersMonday, June 25th, 2012

This article is really all about a video made my the Harvard University baseball team that has logged over 13,000,000 views on YouTube, but we’ll get to that in a moment…

Let me address the big picture first:  College coaches are constantly trying to come up with an elaborate strategy to dominate social media, and thereby become beloved destinations of every five star recruit in the country.

Maybe you’re one of them.  Or, maybe you wish you were one of them – but truth be told, you’re doing good just to answer the email sitting in your Inbox every day.  Or, maybe you see the whole things as way too complicated for you, and better left to someone else in your athletic department.

Regardless or how you’d label yourself, one thing seems to be universally true in the minds of most coaches:  Social Media is a complicated puzzle that takes more planning, expertise and know-how than you could ever muster during your coaching career.

Let me show you why it’s exactly the opposite of the scenario I have just outlined, and why it’s easier than ever for you as a coach – Division I, small college, tech-savvy or social media dinosaur – for you to use easy-to-use free websites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to promote your program and connect with your recruits.

Which brings us back to that Harvard baseball team video I mentioned at the start:

This is the video they did.  They got the idea on a road trip, practiced a little, and then shot the video the next day.

It exploded online (approaching 14,000,000 views as I write this), went viral, and made them an Internet sensation.  Soon, another team challenged with their version.  Then another.  And another (all legs, no arms!).  All in all, dozens of college teams have joined in and recorded their version.  Harvard’s baseball team and one of their challengers, the rowing team from Southern Methodist, were featured on The Today Show.  All in all, not bad promotion for the teams, and the colleges.

So, what does all this have to do with you?  Everything.

Here are the lessons that I think every college coach can take away from my original points, and this amazing lesson in the power – and ease – on how social media can and should be used in recruiting:

  • All of what you just watched cost nothing. That’s in your budget, so invest in it.
  • All of what you just watched was done with no outside consulting, and no 50-page strategic plan. Not that there’s anything wrong with consultants that will help you with a plan; if that’s what you need to get started, then by all means use one.  But you don’t “need” one to be successful.
  • All of what you just watched was created by college athletes. Not many college coaches could come up with something so mind-numbingly simple and catchy.  My point, Coach, is that you don’t need to come up with the big ideas that will turn your team into the next online sensation…let your team handle that for you.
  • All of what you just watched showcases a team’s personality better than anything you or I could come up with. That’s what social media is all about: Fun, personality and interaction.  So if the majority of what is showing-up on your Facebook or Twitter team sites is electronic news releases or game summaries, I wouldn’t be waiting by the phone expecting a call from The Today Show, Coach.
  • All of what you just watched achieves for these teams something that most teams fail to answer for their recruits:  Why they’d want to play for you on your team at your college. And isn’t that one of the central goals of any coach who is aiming to bring as many great prospects in as possible?

All five of these end results can be achieved with no money.  Starting team accounts, if allowed by your compliance office and division level rules, can be done in about 10-15 minutes.  Still intimidated?  Bring one or two of your athletes in to help you…they’ll be happy to do it.

The big lesson for college recruiters is that this isn’t hard, and it’s the future of communicating effectively with your prospects in conjunction with the right mix of letters, emails and phone calls.

Ignore it at your own risk.

Effective Strategies for Bridging the Gap Between Admissions and AthleticsMonday, June 25th, 2012

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

* Full disclosure before I begin: Front Rush offers a product that handles the issues we’ll be talking about below, but this is not a sales pitch…rather a justification for why we have such a product that addresses this problem.

The future of recruiting – especially in Division II and Division III – is going to be much more integrated with admissions.

Here’s why:

Current recruiting applications and packages allow for coaches of the same staff to be on the same page by providing a solution that has all of the recruit data in a single place. These applications replaced the old model where coaches would have their own excel sheet or binder and would be limited in sharing information with other coaches on staff. The problem that we see today is not that coaches aren’t “on the same page”, but that they are completely separated from admissions even though the goals of the admissions department very close parallel the goals of athletics, at least from a recruiting perspective.

There is a tremendous overlap with the number of prospects being recruited by coaches and admissions yet very little information sharing. We have seen some schools attempt to solve this problem by using an admissions application that has some of the same tools that an athletic recruiting application offers. However, these software applications fall short on the coach side and leave coaches handcuffed and wishing for more. This is exactly why companies like Front Rush exist…admissions applications are built for admissions type users and lack any focus for coaches. With this in mind, its our thesis that there should be a bridge between coaches and admissions and this bridge should be automated and seamless.

Coaches are collecting highly qualified data on recruits that any admissions officer could use for their own recruiting initiatives. An athlete may fall short in their athletic ability and may not be a fit for their respective sport but at the same time that does not mean that they are not a fit for the university as a whole. The university could benefit greatly by having access to that vital recruit information. Similarly, if the recruit is a fit for the team and the university, the combined efforts of the coach and admissions officer could help improve the probability of actually recruiting that athlete. Then from a coaches perspective, they could leverage admissions data to help focus their efforts. For example, it would be great if a coach knew immediately when a recruit’s academic status changed from applied to accepted.

The tools that are being built now have this ideology as the focus. The fragmentation that currently exists between athletics and admissions is the problem that is being solved. These two departments share extremely similar goals and the historic barriers that have kept the two from communicating efficiently are being torn down. The future of recruiting is fully integrated from the bottom up. The software that the coaches use will speak directly with the software that the admissions departments has at their desks even if they are built by completely different companies.

If a recruit is added for a coach, admissions will be immediately alerted and the data can be pre-qualified to make sure it fits the caliber that the admissions department requires. Data will be passed back and forth so coaches can know the status of their top recruits in real time. This data passing is happening now and will only become more seamless and more detailed as time progresses.

That’s what coaches have been asking for, and now it’s ready to be delivered.  Click here for more details, or email me at sdevlin@frontrush.com so I can answer your questions one-on-one.

 

Two Huge Action Steps Towards Becoming More Productive as a CoachTuesday, June 19th, 2012

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

For a coach who is trying to learn ways to become more productive and efficient in the office, I think that the first HUGE step you need to take if you haven’t
done so already is to own your agenda.   No offense, but I think that a lot of coaches have become extremely wimpy in letting other people set the agenda of our day, our life, and our moment to moment experiences.

Unfortunately most coaches are not even aware that it is a problem.

Coach, if you want to spend less time in the office, get more important things done, and have time left over in the day to have a life outside of your sport, you must take back where are you going, what are you doing, how are you managing your day by regaining control over your agenda.

Your agenda is where you are going with your program and on your agenda are the things you need to do to progress your program forward.

By controlling your agenda it means that you are not doing immediately what your inbox is asking you to do, checking your email or Facebook every two minutes to check in on the world, stopping everything to pick up the phone every time it rings, letting a coach who stops by eat up a good chunk of your day with office gossip . . . I could go on, but you get the idea.

Do not let others mess with your agenda, EVER!

Coaches say to me that that is really hard: I have no assistants, I have kids, I am constantly getting interrupted, etc. Trust me, I get that.  I am a Division 1 Head Soccer coach and only have two part-time assistants working with me, I have a young son, and I get interrupted just as much as anybody.  I have made the choice to control my agenda and no matter what your circumstances are, you still have to choose to own your agenda as well.

After you have taken the first huge step in becoming more productive by deciding that you are going to own your agenda from now on, the next big step is to have clarity. Clarity with your vision, coaching, team, and recruiting aspects of your program will give you something to continually focus on during the day.

Vision = Ultimate Destination, Personal Plan = Values, Team Plan = Coaching Philosophy, Recruiting Plan = who you want and how you are going to get them.

By creating a vision you create a destination. Your vision becomes the filter through which you sift every decision, from how to train your team to whom you recruit to how you spend your time in the office despite all of the other stuff going on around you. Once your vision is solid enough, it will dictate every action you make (assuming you are owning your agenda), ensuring that everything you do takes you closer to your goals.

Personal, team, and recruiting plans are there so you know what you must do every day to succeed and they add structure to your vision. It allows you to come up with appropriate development plan for the day, week, season, and year. Planning is the tool that takes you from wherever you are to wherever you want to go.

A good plan identifies the outcomes you want, tells you whether you’re on track, helps you to get a better return on energy, and guides the decisions you’re making, especially regarding how you are managing your time. You will use it and refer to it on a regular, on-going basis.

I had always joked about having a “method to my madness.” I was able to eliminate most of the madness by putting in a lot more method. Once I knew my own “what’s” and “why’s,” I moved onto figuring out the “what’s” and “why’s” of my program. It was a lot of work, but I still believe it is the most valuable and important exercise that I have ever done as a college coach.

Coach, clarity does not come into your life and magically land at your feet, you have to choose or decide what you want. You have to create clarity, not wait for clarity. Lack of clarity is probably more responsible for frustration and underachievement than any other single factor.

Being clear on what your future looks like to choosing to own your agenda will help you make more productive choices and sound decisions in your present.

In my new Green Time Management System For Coaches, which consists of a workbook and daily planner, I teach you how to take back the agenda of your day. My goal with this Green Time Management System is to not just help you get things done, throughout the workbook, I will get you to map out what you really want, why you want it, and become very strategic about how you are going to get it. I show you how to think about your day so you don’t get sucked into all of the other crap coaches typically get sucked into because you may not have been strategically thinking about how to set up your day at all to be
productive and efficient.

Watch for Coach Green’s new workbook and calendar system soon here.

5 Important Ways to Show Your Recruits You Have “Staying Power”Monday, June 18th, 2012

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Starting Your Coaching Day Out RightMonday, June 11th, 2012

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3 Ways to Get Your Recruits to “Buy” You SubconsciouslyMonday, June 4th, 2012

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