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3 Things To Be O.K. With Before You Talk to Your Next Class of RecruitsMonday, August 19th, 2013

In the good old days of college recruiting, it was all pretty straight-forward.

You wrote a letter, and they’d read it.

You called them on the phone, and they’d talk to you.

You went on a home visit, two parents and a polite, enthusiastic recruit were there to meet with you. (And the parents let their kid do the talking).  That’s about the same time we Liked Ike, and gasoline was 25-cents a gallon.

Today, things are different.

Parents are acting as agents and public relations representatives, recruits mumble on the phone because they’re busying talking with their thumbs on multiple social media networks, and they’ll only read your letters and emails if you’re telling them the things they want to know the way they want it told to them.

Talking to recruits – something many college coaches are preparing to do with a new class of prospects in the not-too-distant future – has become a new and more complicated adventure.  So today, I wanted to give you some advice on how best to launch your new communication plan with your new class of recruits.  You’ll have to pick and choose which ideas apply best to you, the way you talk, and your approach with your prospects, but I think you’ll find this a good beginning to developing a better roadmap to connecting with this generation of teenager (and maybe even their parents who are acting as their kid’s agent):

  • Be o.k. with asking them which social media platforms they use, and if it’s permissible to communicate with them through those networks.  Our expanding research on this topic indicates one very important “rule” that this generation seems to gravitate around:  There are different rules for different kids.  About half of the recruits we are hearing from indicate that they have absolutely no problems with a coach communicating with them through following them or direct-messaging them on social media.  The other half, on the other hand, have big problems with coaches who want to use social media to follow them or communicate with them.  My advice: Ask your prospect what they’d be o.k. with.  Keep it simple, keep it direct, and let them know the reason you’re asking them is because you want to be a coach who wants to communicate with them the way they want to be communicated with (they’ll appreciate it more than you can imagine).
  • Be o.k. with talking to your prospect’s parents.  As we explain in our On-Campus Workshops we conduct for athletic departments and coaches, one of the big differences between this generation of recruits compared to past generations of recruits is this: Not only do they want their parents to be involved in the recruiting process, they expect their parents to be involved in the recruit process.  While this is a frustrating fact for coaches, it’s a fact nonetheless.  So, my advice is probably what you’d expect: You should be o.k. with talking to your prospect’s parents in place of your prospect.  Not every time, all the time…but most of the time.  They’ll usually accurately speak for their son or daughter, and actually give you more intelligent, useful information.
  • Be o.k. with texting instead of talking.  In an effort to make you hate where this conversation is going even more than you did after reading the first two pieces of advice, I present the pièce de résistance:  Most prospects would probably prefer to “talk” to you via text messaging instead of talking on the phone with you.  I think you shouldn’t make too much of this inconvenient new fact of life; I guess the question I’d ask is, would you rather have a rather one-way six minute conversation on the phone where you do 90% of the talking?  Or, would you want to have an information-rich exchange over an hour by text message?  I know which one will carry the recruiting process forward (and so do you).  If you sense that a prospect is not going to be comfortable talking on the phone, ask them if they’d rather have text message sessions with you.  It’s not a sign that they are deficient or poor communicators, it’s a sign that they’ve grown up using different methods of communication.  Don’t over-think it, Coach.

Those are the three most important beginning communication strategies as you attempt to deepen your connection with this next class of prospects.  Just make sure you’re playing by their rules as much as you, and not necessarily yours.

Our clients and premium members get even more advice and direction on an ongoing basis.  Want to have access to one-on-one expertise as you approach this next recruiting class?  We’re ready to help.  Click on the links for all the details, or email Dan directly at dan@dantudor.com.  

Electronic Monitoring And The Benefits For Coaches, Recruiters And AthletesMonday, August 12th, 2013

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

For the past few weeks, I’ve been wearing a Nike Fuel Band and a Fitbit. Both devices are wristbands that track various data sets of your physical being. They track them through built in accelerometers and pedometers and then allow you to sync your data wirelessly to your iPhone, Android, etc (device specific). The idea is that without you having to manually enter a bunch of information, you can track your health by knowing the number of steps you’ve taken in a day, the length of time that you were physically active, how many hours you slept, etc. You can also set goals for each of these data points as a way to gamify your physical health.

Tracking personal data is becoming a common trend known as “quantified self” and it extends to essentially anything. For instance, how many emails you send in a day, how your weight has fluctuated over time or what your daily calorie in take is. What’s interesting is the potential for these (or similar devices) to expose data coaches could use to benefit their coaching, recruiting and evaluating similar to the way “Moneyball” changed baseball (and now basketball and others).
Through hardware that athletes wear, we potentially can learn more about them specifically or the respective sport in aggregate ways that can be used to your advantage. For example, we could strap a device to a lacrosse stick to track acceleration of shots or put a device on a pair of shoulder pads and track the forces of a hockey hit. What about tracking the most common area of impact on an athletes serve or the spin of a baseball pitch? These are hypotheticals and some already exist, but what we are talking about is making this data so cheap and accessible that anyone with $100 bucks can generate it and have access to it. It’s really interesting to know that there is a whole other side to this evaluation thing that we haven’t touched because we haven’t yet been able to generate enough data to know its value.
We really like the evaluation potential because it brings the data to the forefront and balances it with the historical anecdotal observation. An analysis on your athletes can be done prior to the visual evaluation which leads to more precise estimates and more focus on key athletes (i.e you can filter out athletes based on these new data points similar to the way you know if they are a fit for your school because of academic credentials.)
So what about the Nike Fuel Band and Fitibit? Well, I’ve learned that they are both very inconsistent and seemingly inaccurate. Even when worn at the same time, on the same wrist, they produce different results for the same data point One will say I took 10,000 steps in one day while the other will say 11,000. So right now I think it is up to a creative coach to find a way for either to make an immediate impact on their team but no doubt the future will be super cool.

Take The Right Steps To The Next LevelMonday, August 5th, 2013

by Dr. Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

You’re at your desk. An athlete knocks. She comes in.

“Coach,” she says, “I want to take it to the next level!”

WHAT DO YOU TELL HER?

She is asking to get to a place different (a better one, hopefully) than where she is now. But does she know what that new place will feel, look, smell, sound like?

Do you?

And, what if, instead of that athlete wanting the next level, it is YOU who wants to crank it up?

KISS THAT COMFORT ZONE GOODBYE

Getting to the next level, regardless of what next level means, and regardless of whoever wants to get there, is rarely a comfortable process. It entails working harder, being smarter, and being prepared for opportunities when they appear.

Those steps, critical parts of the process of getting to the next level (let’s call it NL from now on), throw most people out of their comfort zone, and because of that, many fail. It is easy to get blinded by the rewards of the NL and then blind-sided by the process of getting there.

UP EVEREST

Here’s an example, a family friend was smitten with the idea of climbing to the top of Mount Everest. He was a climber, with some experience, but nothing under his belt to prepare him for climbing Everest. He talked constantly about being on the peak, but never once did I hear him mention about preparing for the trip.

So when I got the email that he pulled out of training for the climb, after three weeks, it was not too much of a surprise. He was blinded then blind-sided.

WHAT DOES YOUR MOUNTAIN TOP LOOK LIKE?

I’ve heard from numerous coaches that they want to get to the NL. As soon as I hear the desire to “go up the mountain” I bounce two questions right back at them:

  • Q1: What does the NL look like to you?

  • Q2: If you never got to your NL, staying right where you are, how would you suffer?

It is pretty obvious how committed the person is to getting to the NL by the responses to those questions, and not just in words, but by the passion they present them with.

So, let me ask you those same two questions: 1. What does your NL look like, and 2. If you ended up staying at your CL (current level), how would you suffer?

Stop for a moment and answer those questions. Really-stop-and-answer.

CONSIDER THIS

I’ve taken to using the mountain-climbing metaphor quite a bit. Let’s bring it closer to home. Here are a few things for you to consider, once you’ve gotten bit by the NL-Bug.

  • Consideration #1: What are the in-place opportunities? Is there a system established to get you to the NL, like promotions, or will you be going off-road to get there?

  • Consideration #2: Who can help you get better? Can a mentor, coach, peer help you achieve your goal? Other people, it turns out, can be very helpful in getting to the NL. Who can you count on?

  • Consideration #3: What would be the price of failure? You try. You fail. Are you penalized? Lose your job, house, family? It won’t be all roses and chocolate trying to get to your NL. In fact, there could well be poison ivy and Brussels sprouts. But that’s why you do you homework beforehand, so you know the prices.

Speaking of  homework

Motivated for the NL? Then let’s get there using these five core steps:

Step 1: Imagine what the view is like from your NL. Come back to your basic senses. How does it feel, sound, taste, smell, look?

Step 2: Get more knowledge about where you want to go and how to get there. Now put some flesh on the sketch you did in Step 1. If your NL is a better coaching position, find out all your can (good and bad) about coaching at that level. (What’s the pay? How many hours are you working? How long do people last in that position?) Dig and get the answers.

Step 3: Now reverse engineer how to get to your NL. How did the people who are already at your NL get there? What did they have to do?

Step 4: Take action. Go. Begin. Take your first step. Take the info from Step 3, and put one foot in front of the other. Up the mountain you go.

Step 5: Compare your results to the original drawing. When you finally arrive, take a breather and compare where you are to your original image (Step 1). Is it everything you thought it would be?

SO TO SUMMARIZE

The Next Level can be a cool and rewarding place; or a frightening, crushing place. Before you attempt to get there, do your homework. Don’t go off blindly or you might get blindsided.

Mike Davenport is in his third decade of coaching college rowing, and is one of the most respected leaders in his sport. His website, CoachingSportsToday.com, is dedicated to helping 1,000 coaches craft a positive legacy.  Dr. Davenport is a frequent contributor to College Recruiting Weekly and the educational events at Tudor Collegiate Strategies.

 

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