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Use Deep-Learning To Improve Your Coaching ExperienceMonday, May 27th, 2013

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Coaches aren’t born knowing how to coach.

Why would anyone make an assumption that coaches DON’T need to be taught how to coach?

Why would I assume because I’m competent at one thing, like making a PB & J sandwich, that I know enough to be competent at the next level of difficulty (souffle) — without some help?

Drivers are taught.

Doctors are taught.

Teachers are taught.

Coaches, not so much. (Did you know that that United States is one of the few developed countries that does NOT have a national coaching education program?)

That is about as crazy as it comes.

Nature vs Nurture

There has been this ongoing debate — mostly in human development fields — about this thing framed as nature vs. nurture.

The nature-camp says that successful people are born with traits that make them successful.  The nurture-camp counters that successful people are successful because they were nurtured, taught in a positive environment.

People much smarter than I have weighed in on this and have written and spoke quite vigorously on both sides. I believe — from what I’ve seen going on in the work place — that a combination of both is the key, but a heavy dose of nurture (the environment) sure does seem to make a difference.

My belief, exactly, is that a coach is not a born coach. Bill George, in his book Authentic Leadership, wrote,

 . . . leaders are not born that way. Many people have natural leadership gifts, but they have to develop them fully to become outstanding leaders.

 An athletic person needs to learn the specifics of his sport, as someone with math sense needs to learn calculus. Top golfers practice thousands of hours and continually gets instruction on how to do what they do well — better. Coaches need to do the exact-same-thing.


Effective learning takes action, a specific type of action.

Buying a book from Amazon is action. Yes, reading that book is action also. But those actions are shallow-learning steps. (I bet if you look around your desk/office you’ll see a dozen of those books sitting in your *To Read* pile. Right?) Shallow-learning in process.

We all do that. Ah, but not many of us do the next step, one I call deeplearning.

Deep-learning is where you invest time and effort, going deeper than the money you just spent on the book, or video, or podcast.

An Example

Here’s what I mean. On my desk is a copy of Napolean Hill’s Think And Get Rich. You might have one kicking around, and you might even have read it. But I went deeper than just reading it:

1. I made notes all through the book

2. I reread the book focusing specifically on those notes

3. I copied those notes onto two pages of paper

4. I distilled those notes down into one sentence, “You CAN become what you think you CAN become.”

5. I put together a quick idea for a college course based on that premise

6. I pitched it to a dean at my college

7. He accepted it, and it become a college course entitled, A World of Wisdom from Mistakes and Failures.

That might not be your cuppa tea. I get that. But can you see how deep that went? Even now, years later, I can still see pages from that book in my mind, and I revert back to Hill’s ideas quite often.

Now, Take Action

Could you do something deeper with a book you picked up about your sport? Or about coaching? Teaching? How about from that recent YouTuber you just watched (forget the talking sheep one, how about the latest from Sir Ken Robinson. Oh, please, if you have 18 minutes go watch this. Your future-self will thank you!) Or your favorite podcast.

With a laser-like focus on deeper learning you could become a better coach. Caution — you’ll get strange looks, and questions, and statements like, “What the heck are you doing?” Ignore all of that.
Let them go back to their shallow-learning while you’re putting a dent in your Universe.
Stuff like this matters. To you. To me. To them.




2013 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference Speaker Line-UpMonday, May 20th, 2013

Here’s the line-up for the upcoming 2013 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Charlotte, NC, June 7-9, 2013:


DAN TUDOR – The founder of Tudor Collegiate Strategies, and your NCRC host, will kick-off the weekend session with his traditional “State of Recruiting” message for coaches.  Dan will review what he’s seeing as he travels the country consulting with coaches and athletic departments, give you recommendations on how to craft your upcoming recruiting strategy, and much more.

JOHN BRUBAKER – This former college lacrosse coach and author of the new book “The Seeds of Success” will talk to recruiters about how to build a
successful approach to coaching, recruiting and life.  Taken from his latest book, this session will feature three unique characters inspired by a true story: From the Colonel, you will learn how to “mine for diamonds in the rough” and align your staff’s core values with your profile of the ideal recruit, you’ll also discover the CEO’s “Fistful of Sales” or 5 fundamentals of selling, and from the minister you will learn the hidden value of info-tainment in your recruitment message.




DR. MIKE DAVENPORT – This current successful college rowing coach and creator of CoachingSportsToday.com will talk on “The Zen of Your Recruiting Experience”.  The goal of this session?  To create a coaching and recruiting career that is built for the long haul.  “Recruiting college athletes can be a 24/7/365 non-ending adventure, one that can create terrible experiences and shorten a coaching career”, says Coach Davenport. “It doesn’t have to be that way.  Why listen to me? Because I’m one of you – and have been for 33 years, have studied the impact of coaching on coaches as part of my doctoral studies, and have been through the entire spectrum of the coaching experiences and have developed strategies to survive it all.”


ROB JONES – You will never forget the night you heard Rob Jones tell the story of his injury he suffered, and how he used it to make his life better than he could have imagined, and to discover his true potential moving forward.  “Part of recruiting is convincing the prospective athlete that by working with you, they will become a better athlete and person,” explains Jones, who had his incredible story featured in Sports Illustrated earlier this past year. “The best way to convince them of this is to be the best coach possible, which includes having more experience and knowledge than anyone else. Through the lessons that can be gained from what I’ll be talking about, coaches who hear this session can gain perspective on true human potential, and thus be better informed on how far he can take his athletes.”  After hearing Rob, you’ll want him to come to your campus and teach your athletes about the incredible principles that he lives his life by.

CHARLIE ADAMS – Author and popular speaker Charlie Adams will be teaching coaches about the power of building a positive attitude towards coaching, recruiting and life.  His book, “How to Build a Positive Attitude – and KEEP the Darned Thing” will be the basis of this fast-paced, instructive talk designed just for coaches.  If you’re tired of the recruiting process and are coming to the 2013 NCRC feeling defeated, these sound principles and examples of the power of a positive attitude will change your outlook as you prepare for the 2013-2014 recruiting year.



JOE DIANGE –  A former multi-sport high school athlete, Penn State football player and coach and NFL Strength Coach and long-time marketing specialist, Joe has combined his past athletic and coaching experiences with his marketing expertise to form an industry leading technology communication company, The Competitive Edge.  Joe will introduce coaches to one fascinating aspect of his company – the why and how of making the personal side of your staff and team “come alive” to prospects, boosters, and alumni using video communication.  His company will be providing a light breakfast for coaches to start our day, as well

DAN WOLKEN – One of the rising talents in college sports media, this USA Today college sports columnist and reporter will give coaches the inside story on what he see’s going right – and going wrong – with coaches and programs as they recruit this generation of recruits.  Dan covered the recent NCAA recruiting contact reform initiative in-depth, and will lend his forecast on what the future holds for communicating with prospects in the months and years to come.

STEPHANIE MELISH – A certified speaker and trainer of sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer, Stephanie will be one of the true highlights of this weekend as she presents Becoming and Ask-Kisser: How Using Power Questions Can Lead to Power Recruiting.  “At the heart of any sales process are the questions you ask, and at the heart of any recruitment process are the questions you may or may not be asking,” says Melish. “I’m going to give coaches the 7.5 questioning success strategies that get put to work successfully in the business world, and how to apply them to the business of recruiting.”  Why listen to Melish, who is a non-coach?  “Because they’re going to walk away with a new-found confident approach to engaging their recruits and the recruits’ families by asking powerful and emotionally engaging questions.”

DR. ROBYN ODEGAARD – Affectionately known as “Doc Robyn”, this nationally recognized coaching relationship expert and psychologist will lead her session “How to Create a Real Connection with Parents & Recruits: How You Listen is More Important Than What You Say”.  All of the research on how and why recruits choose one program over another points to the strength of relationship between a coach and the recruit.  Coaches will learn:

  • Why how you create a connection varies from recruit to recruit, parent to parent and even between a recruit and his or her parents
  • Tips you can use to tap into their dreams and “have to haves”
  • Specific questions you can ask that will tell you if a recruit is a good fit with your program
  • How to get through to the decision making part of the brain so they chose you

PAUL BIANCARDI – One of the most popular speakers from the 2012 NCRC, Coach Biancardi will talk to coaches about the lessons he has learned in his Division I men’s basketball recruiting career, and what he sees in his daily work as a leading ESPN recruiting analyst.  This generation is radically different when it comes to connecting with coaches, and Biancardi has insights you need to know as you head into this next recruiting cycle.

NCSA ATHLETIC RECRUITING FOCUS GROUP LUNCH – The experts at NCSA Athletic Recruiting will be hosting a lunch and taking coaches through a fascinating focus group session on how you use recruiting technology, what you like and don’t like, and your ideas for how to make it better.  It’s a rare opportunity to lend your expertise to make this nationally recognized recruiting resource better and more coach-friendly.

RONNIE ARROW – The former men’s basketball coach at the University of South Alabama, Coach Arrow will take-on a growing under-current in college recruiting: The APR standards that are now a priority at most NCAA schools, and how it’s going to affect their recruiting – and their college careers.  “Expectations are high when you are coaching,” says Arrow. “These expectations can be hindered by APR and NCAA rules if your university is not equipped to help you academically. This can really hurt your recruiting, and a lot of coaches aren’t aware of how to approach this.”  As coaches listen to Ronnie Arrow, they’re hearing from someone who has been through plenty of battles over his career.  “My talk should help coaches understand their jobs better by understanding more about the total survey of what their job has to offer,” says Arrow. “Once they have this understanding, they know what type of student athlete they can recruit. I have been a Division I head Basketball Coach for 23 years, and I want to lend my perspective to the careers of these recruiters coming in for the 2013 NCRC.”

AARON BOETTCHER – The relationship between admissions and athletics is key to creating the roster that will bring you a winner, as well as meet the goals of your admissions department and campus.  Boettcher has a unique perspective on this crucial recruiting issue: He is a former recruiter and college coach, and now occupies the a lead role in admissions at the University of Illinois – Springfield.  Boettcher will talk about strategies that he has seen work to meet both department’s goals, and give coaches ideas on how to approach this upcoming recruiting season with a more intelligent approach that just might make you a hero on your campus.



MANDY GREEN – Coach Green is a frequent contributor to our popular College Recruiting Weekly newsletter, and will be leading her session entitled “Reduce Your Recruiting Stress With These 10 Time Management Techniques”.  In addition to being a Division I head coach and mother of two, Green is the President of Coaching Productivity Strategies and author of the Green Time Management Workbook and Planner for College Coaches.  This workbook and calendar system is for coaches who want to become more organized and efficient as recruiters and professionals.  “These techniques will help the coaches that attend to prioritize and organize their time in the office better so they are getting more of your most important recruiting work done in a shorter amount of time,” says Green.   “Coaches will learn how to be more organized so they can double their office productivity to get more work done in less time so they have more work life balance.”

SEAN DEVLIN – If you haven’t heard this incredibly bright tech mind lend his expertise to our conferences, it won’t take you long to respect him and follow his advice.  His talk, Recruiting & Technology & Stuff, has become a NCRC tradition.  And if you like knowing what the year ahead holds when it comes to technology and recruiting, this is a can’t miss talk.  “I’ll introduce coaches to the pragmatic application of existing technologies into their day to day recruiting as well as future technologies that will change the recruiting landscape,” says Devlin.  “Coaches will learn how technology can help them more efficiently recruit.”  Devlin is the tech mind behind the popular recruiting management software Front Rush.

CHARLIE ADAMS – As a parent of a recruited college athlete, and longtime nationally recognized speaker about parents and the recruiting process, Adams will be our “closer” for the second straight day as he outlines the latest research on parents, the recruiting process, and how college coaches can take a smarter, more pro-active approach towards communicating and connecting with this crucial group of influential people.



TYLER BRANDT – Hear from this former college coach turned author and consultant as he explains the concept of being a “7-Second Coach”.  This applies to recruiting, as well as how you develop your recruits once they get on campus.  Coach Brandt will outline what to do to be a better, more connected coach and recruiter.

DR. THOM PARK – Dan Tudor described Thom Park as quite possibly the best recruiter of all-time, and once you hear this legendary coach and recruiter talk you’ll know why.  His talk, “Recruiting Then and Now: A 40-Year View on Your Coaching Career and Contracts”, will provide you tangible life lessons from his career as a college football recruiter and athletic director, as well as someone who negotiated the largest Division I football coach contract at that time back in 2003.  This legendary recruiter will be available to network with all weekend, and you’ll love his advice on Sunday as we begin to wrap-up the conference.

DAN TUDOR – The conference host will take the final two hours of the conference on Sunday to achieve two big goals: Discussing the impact and bestpractices with social media and recruiting, as well take your questions and comments to build applicable recruiting strategies as we wrap-up the 2013 NCRC experience.

If you still need to register for the upcoming conference, do so now…time is running out.  CLICK HERE.





Using Gmail To Enhance Your Experience And Make Recruiting EasierMonday, May 20th, 2013

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

More and more schools are switching to Gmail, so we thought we would provide some cool Gmail tricks that you can use to make your Gmail experience more efficient…

– Undo sent messages

After you click ‘send’, Gmail will give you 5 seconds to ‘undo’ a sent message and stop it from sending. This is huge help for those “oh no!” moments when you realize you sent the wrong thing to the wrong person. You can enable this by:

1) clicking the “gear” icon   on the right hand side and choosing “settings”

2) choose “labs” at the top of the new screen

3) find “undo send” and choose “Enable”

4) click “save changes”

– Drag attachments directly into the body of your message

Instead of having to choose the paperclip icon, then searching your computer to find the file and going through that whole mess…you can literally open up an email in Gmail (compose), and drag whatever picture or file you have directly into the email. Just click and drag and you are good to go. Note: if you are an Internet Explorer user, this might not work.

– Mute conversations

Do you ever get cc’d on conversations and every time someone ‘replies to all’, you get hit with another email that you don’t care about? Then you have to go in and delete it…typically with frustration? Well, go ahead and mute the conversation and you will not have to deal with those frustrating email chains. This is done by:

1) check the checkbox next to the email on the left hand side

2) click the ‘More’ dropdown

3) choose ‘Mute’

– Front Rush plug-in (SHAMELESS PLUG – I AM SORRY!!!)

Front Rush released a Google extension that pulls all of your recruit data directly into Gmail. If you open an email from a recruit, all of their data shows directly next to the email. It then allows you to save the email right in Front Rush. You can grab it at


Canned Responses

Do you ever send out the same email over and over again? Or consistently use the same response back to people who email you? The best thing to do is to use canned responses. These are pre-written responses that you choose and send. You can enable these by:

1) clicking the “gear” icon  on the right hand side and choosing “settings”

2) choose “labs” at the top of the new screen

3) find “canned responses” and choose “Enable”

4) click “save changes”

5) type out an email that you want to use as a canned response

6) at the bottom right of the email there is a down arrow…click that

7) choose “canned responses” and “New canned response”

8) type out a name

-Note: you’ll use the same down arrow to choose the canned response the next time you send out an email.



3 Tips for Managing Your Coaching EnergyMonday, May 6th, 2013

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Time-management is everywhere.

Books and blog posts abound with a wealth of tricks to squeeze a few more workable minutes out of your day.

But none of those are any good to you if you sit down exhausted and your head bounces off your desk after a long day of coaching and managing your program. If you’re blurry-eyed and nodding off at 4pm, you can imagine how good your afternoon practice is going to be.

So forget time-management. Let’s talk energy-management instead. Personal energy — the type of energy you need to get through your coaching day.

Your Energy Is Being Sucked Right Out Of You

We live in a busy world. And because of that, we’re constantly running low on energy. Between info overwhelm, constant connectedness, crisis-after-crisis, and increasing obligations, our personal-energy is continually being drained.

Not too long ago, that wasn’t a big issue. A good night’s sleep, and you woke refreshed and ready to shred the world.

Today is different. Most of us aren’t smart with our personal-energy.

Sleep is important, sure, but sleep just restores energy. Managing personal-energy, focusing on regenerating it and using it to its greatest potential can help you reach new heights in your coaching.

Think Differently

Imagine you’re an energy-company executive. Your top three concerns (if you want your company to succeed) are producing, storing, and delivering energy. If you don’t manage those concerns properly, your company is going to fail.

I asked you to imagine you’re an energy-company executive, but here’s what I’m saying: You already ARE one. You control your own power company and you need to make sure you can produce, store and can deliver your own energy on demand.

Here’s how you take care of your first concern, producing energy:  You need to eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.

Simple enough.

Dr. Mike Davenport is an expert on building a successful, balanced coaching career.  He will be a featured speaker at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference for college coaches, and is the creator of CoachingSportsToday.com.

11 Things You Need to Do Now That the NCAA Has Put Recruiting Reform on HoldSunday, May 5th, 2013

As has happened before, the NCAA has slammed on the breaks and skidded off to the shoulder of the road right before taking the proverbial exit towards recruiting communication reform.

The proposed rules would have allowed a greater variety of contact over longer periods of time, starting sooner.  Some coaches and conferences objected to the new rules, and the NCAA announced that they were going to take a longer look at the impact of the proposed changes.

Of course, many upper division coaching staffs are already recruiting Freshmen and Sophomores and desperately trying to find better ways to communicate with them.  This latest chapter in the ever-increasing trend of early recruiting just means that club and AAU coaches will continue to exert significant influence over the process as they maintain their cherished roles as gatekeepers in your quest to get verbal commitments from top quality pre-driver’s license teenagers before your buddies down the street can get their commitment.

Regardless of your position on whether the reforms were good or bad for college sports, one fact remains: You need to contact young recruits before you can tell your story in a traditional way through phone calls, emails and letters.  With that in mind, here’s a list of what we recommend for coaches who need to continue to recruit prospects using Macgyver-like tricks to lure the right kid to campus:

  • Pretend the new rules are in place.  Try to find creative, legal ways to brand your program early with a focus on prompting communication.  Specifically, the younger prospects reaching out to contact you.
  • Social media is big, but it’s not the secret formula.  It’s a great way to reach out and have simple back-and-forth conversations with a recruit, but it currently has limits on how well it can give them the logical reasons to choose you.  Use it to set-up contact, but continue to find diverse ways to tell your overall story.  Seriously, this is important, Coach.
  • Brand your program to younger prospects through pictures and short, non-sport related video.  Want to know the best use for your Twitter account, Instagram or Facebook fan page?  “Showing” your prospects what life around your program is all about.  Please, in the name of all that is holy, stop posting press releases and stories about the new library renovations.  They want to see where they’re going to eat, the sand volleyball game by the dorms on a Saturday, teammates going shopping at the mall down the street from the college, or a picture of your messy desk.  Anything that humanizes you and your program, and talks about more than the sports side of your life and theirs.  Social media is the ideal venue for that!  (Are your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages reflecting what they want?)
  • Understand what club and high school coaches want: Respect, and to be included in the process as one of your peers.  The biggest thing the proposed rules would have done would be to lesson the impact the role of the current coaches of your recruits in the early recruiting conversation.  But as the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”  Make an effort in this next recruiting cycle to communicate with the coaches of your recruits on a consistent, ongoing basis.  And I’m not just talking about asking them to pass along emails or other messages to your prospects (although, yes, you need to continue to do that); I’m talking about “recruiting” them, too.  The research we’ve conducted is clear: Those coaches what to be respected and be included in the process, and the best way we’ve found to do that is to mail, email and talk to them on a regular basis (which results in them being more likely to pass along your messages to their recruits, and…dare we dream?…actually recommend you to them.
  • Spend more time talking to their parents.  The Freshman or Sophomore recruit you really want really wants you to talk to their mom or dad.  Proportionally, you can’t go wrong with an 80/20 plan – eighty percent of phone call time with the parents, twenty percent with the recruit.  This is especially true with younger recruits, who feel inadequately equipped to talk to you, who they view as powerful and intimidating.  Spend time on the phone with the parents finding out what they want out of the process, what they see as a right fit for their son or daughter’s college career, and what they might have available on their calendar for an early unofficial visit to campus.
  • Tell the parents and your recruit about the type of kid that’s not right for you and your program.  The secret here is that you want them to start selling you on why they would be a good fit for your program.  The easiest way to do that is to define who isn’t right for you and what you don’t like in an athlete, and then wait for them to explain why their son or daughter is nothing like that.  This is a great principle to use to shift the focus from you selling yourself to them, to them selling themselves to you.  Try this the next time you have your new recruit or their parents on the phone for the first time and watch how they follow this script that I’ve laid out…you’ll make it part of your regular recruiting strategy.
  • Set up a standing appointment to talk.  For younger recruits, you still can’t initiate regular phone calls until they are entering their Senior year.  Try flipping it around and ask them what they could commit to in terms of placing a regular phone call to you.  Same day of the week, same time.  Have a goal of twice a month, and promise them it will be no more than 7 or 8 minutes long, and that you’ll have two amazingly interesting questions for them each time they talk so they won’t be wasting their time.
  • Develop amazingly interesting questions. (click here if you need a jump-start for ideas)
  • Make sure they’re hearing from the head coach.  One of the things we’ve seen from programs big and small is an artificial hierarchy of coaching contacts reaching out to them.  At the beginning, its an assistant.  Then after a while, they might “earn” the right to hear from someone higher on the coaching depth chart.  And then, only after they grace you with their presence on campus, they are allowed to interact with the head coach.  If you were running a mafia crime family, this is proper protocol.  If you’re a coach who wants to eliminate any questions as to how important they are to your program, and how serious you are about recruiting them, it’s a horribly outdated approach – one that your more savvy competitors are happy to exploit to their benefit.
  • Don’t be in a rush for them to visit campus.  In other words, don’t make that the next thing that should happen after the first phone call or email exchange.  In the workshops we are asked to do on college campuses, I’ll often use the example of moving from casually flirting with a high school sweetheart to immediately jumping to planning on a day to get your marriage license together.  In the teenage brain, that’s the equivalent to asking your recruit to come to campus.  Why?  Because they don’t like you yet, and probably aren’t ready to make that jump to committing to interacting with you in person on your home turf.  Be patient.  In fact, tell them that you are going to be the program that doesn’t force them to rush to campus…that you’re more interested in making sure you get to know each other first, and develop good back-and-forth communication for a few months.
  • Commit to be in the race for the long haul.  If you’re recruiting a prospect beginning in their Freshman or Sophomore year, don’t worry about being first right out of the gate.  You want to win at the end, not the beginning.  Position yourself intelligently and strategically for a long race, and let other coaches get frustrated and miscalculate how to pace themselves correctly.

It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start towards positioning yourself as a coach who is going to find a way to operate intelligently as if the new recruiting allowances are in place.

“Early recruiting” is here to stay.  Be the coach that pulls up a chair and gets comfortable with it.

We’ll be discussing the latest NCAA regulations and how it further affects coaches at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  There is still time to register if you’re a coach who wants to be proactive, and formulate a smarter plan using high-level information as you aim for the best of the best in this next recruiting class.  It’s an amazingly instructive weekend, Coach!

  • Not a member? Click here to signup.