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50,000 Beers and Robot CoachesSunday, October 30th, 2016

neal_headshot_dantudorNeal Cook, Front Rush

This past week, Otto, the Uber-owned self-driving vehicle operation, completed its first successful commercial delivery, delivering 2,000 cases of Budweiser from Fort-Collins, Colo to Colorado Springs: about 125 miles on the highway.

In this fast-paced world which we call our daily lives, that might not seem too crazy of a story, but think about it: A truck was able to drive itself, on a major highway, without a driver being in control. That’s wild. Tell that to your mother, father, grandmother, etc. and see their reaction.

Artificial intelligence and autonomous technology are here to stay. The Otto beer delivery was the first of its kind (great PR for Anheuser-Busch,) and a tale of what’s to come. Imagine there being no human truck drivers, sailors, cab drivers, chefs, carpenters, construction workers. Not only can it happen; history tells us it will. It’s just a matter of time.

Not only will robots eventually take over the blue-collar jobs, like the ones I listed above, but they’ll also dabble in the expert human jobs (doctors, lawyers, teachers, coaches, etc), that we control today. Just this past May, the law firm Baker & Hostetler, announced they were employing IBM’s Al Ross to handle their bankruptcy practice. Ross is a robot lawyer.

It’s not just Silicon Valley investing in A.I., but also our government.  The Pentagon has put artificial intelligence at the center of its plan to maintain the United States’ position as the world’s dominant military power, spending billions of dollars on autonomous and semiautonomous technology. Think Terminator or iRobot. iRobot is actually one of my favorite Will Smith movies.

This blog may seem “anti-robot”, but it’s really not meant to be. There are so many potential ways for robots to help humans. Imagine there being a robot to help your elderly family member shower, change the sheets, walk the dog. Or, imagine having the luxury of a robot assistant able to assist you in breaking down game film and finding the 5-star athlete that know one else knows about.

We should never be afraid of technology or the future; for we should never live a fearful life, but be aware of what’s to come, and the potential implications.

Episode 1: Coach Greg Earhart on Being First in RecruitingFriday, October 28th, 2016

Podcast Graphic CoverIn our premier episode of the College Recruiting Weekly podcast, we tackle the topic of being first.

Being first in recruiting is a traditional goal: Be the first to contact a recruit, and communicate with them more effectively than the competition in that first contact.

But what are the right and wrong ways to do it? And, is the emphasis on that first contact that college coaches focus so much on worth all the time and attention that it gets?

Our special guest, Coach Greg Earhart, has proved himself to be a pro at the first contact part of recruiting. He offers some great observations, advice and ideas in our conversation on this first podcast.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

Are You Making These Recruiting Mistakes? (Ask Yourself Today)Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

She took a big step. Scratch that, I think she took an enormous step, and I was excited to be a small part of it! Let me explain what I’m talking about.

Earlier this year we partnered with this particular admissions counselor and the rest of her admissions team. During my individual meeting with her as a part of our on-campus workshop this summer she admitted to me that she was an introvert. I asked her then if she felt like her personality impacted the way she recruits. She didn’t have an answer and she said it wasn’t a big deal. I encouraged her to think more about it, and then I did what I always do…which is the same thing I do for you every Tuesday at the bottom of this newsletter – I gave out my cell number and told her to feel free to connect with me at any time.

Fast forward to this past week when I received an unscheduled and unexpected call from that counselor, who by the way I hadn’t spoken with since my visit to campus. Her first words to me were, “Jeremy, I’ve finally got an answer for you and yes it’s a problem”.

She proceeded to tell me that this fall she’s really had a hard time getting any sort of engagement during her high school visits and college fairs. One night in her hotel room she was catching up on email and just happened to come across my most recent admissions newsletter. She told me it triggered a memory from our conversation during the summer, and that was enough to push her to schedule some time to talk about things with her Director when she returned to campus. What ensued was an important discussion between the two of them about self-awareness.

Being able to accept that you struggle at or with something is hard for many of us to admit. So is breaking a bad habit or admitting that there might be a better strategy or solution than the one you’re currently using.

Building on that, today I thought it would be beneficial for you if I shared some common recruiting mistakes that I see a lot of admissions professionals continuing to make right now. And while not being self-aware isn’t on this list, it’s definitely something that I want you to think about.

Here are seven other things on my list:

  1. Interrupting. Stop interrupting prospects, parents, high school counselors and other people you come in contact with every day. Even if you think you know what the other person is going to tell you, have the courtesy to hear them out and let them express their point of view. Listen first; talk second when someone else engages with you.
  2. Selling too fast. Too many of you are in a rush to skip steps and just try to push the student to the next stage of the process. Slow down. You’re moving faster than your prospect most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for meeting department goals, but would you believe me if I told you that I’m confident you’ll get more applications and campus visits when you slow down the sales process? Build the relationship first; sell your school later, especially in the early stages with a new prospect or inquiry. Take the time to ask probing questions like where the student and family are at in the college search process, and who else is going to be involved in the decision. When you slow down the conversation you’ll have more time to demonstrate why your school is the best fit for their needs.
  3. Not recruiting the whole family. For the past six months or so I’ve been mentioning in article after article why you need to start the conversation with family members, namely parents, earlier. Stop waiting until the financial aid discussion to connect with them and create dialogue. It’s a big reason why you’re not converting as many admits as you’d like. Create a long-term plan to develop a relationship with, and recruit, a prospect’s family. In addition to parents, that can also extend to siblings and grandparents.
  4. Giving up too easily on prospects that don’t reply right away.  Just because a new prospect or inquiry doesn’t respond to your early letters and emails doesn’t mean your messages aren’t making an impact. Some experts contend that a consumer won’t take action on something until he or she has been a part of your campaign 7 times. Others say that 20 is the magic number. Sure, there’s always a time to move on, but too many counselors give up too easily on students before exploring all of the different communication avenues.
  5. Making phone calls that don’t have a purpose.  You need to have a game plan for your recruiting phone calls.  Dan (Tudor) and I talk in detail about that during our on-campus workshops. Getting through your list is great…but how many of those conversations are actually helping you move the needle in your favor? Successful phone calls have a plan of attack. Key pieces of that plan need to be asking really good questions, gaining usable information for future calls and messages, and setting up the next phone call or communication.
  6. Making excuses. Particularly when it comes to responding to emails in a timely fashion or inputting your notes into your CRM so that if you’re out of the office and a colleague has to deal with one of your students, he or she can quickly and easily get up to speed. Stop trying to find reasons why you can’t get these and other critical things done, and instead focus on finding a solution or figuring out a way to manage your time more effectively.
  7. Not understanding how to “close the deal”.  You have to keep asking the right questions.  You have to keep gauging the prospect’s interest.  You have to seek out and effectively handle objections. You have to get those “little yeses” I’ve talked about before. No matter how good of a position you think you’re in with a student you should never just sit back, wait, and hope they choose you.  The really good admissions counselors continue to develop their relationship with their recruit, and do so in such a way that furthers their connection with you and your institution.

Are you making any of these common mistakes? Are there one or two other areas in your approach that need some tweaking and adjusting?  E-mail me at jeremy@dantudor.com and let’s discuss what we can do together to fix the mistakes that might be hurting you in your recruiting efforts.

When Logic Fails with Your Recruit – and WhyMonday, October 24th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 10.03.37 PMI’m the most logical guy I know.

Seriously, I seldom make a mistake. I’m always pretty rational, and fairly grounded in reality. Just ask me, and I’ll tell you: I make pretty good decisions, and do it the right way.

Except when it comes to my justification for what shoes to keep wearing. And, it takes me a while to adapt to new technology once in a while, even though I know the reasons behind why I should make the switch.

And then there’s my inexplicable love of Starbucks iced tea. It’s my drink of choice when I’m on the road working with clients, leading a recruiting workshop, or even when I’m back at the office on a normal day. It makes no logical sense for a rational, grounded-in-reality guy like me, to pay $3.85 for a large iced tea.  It’s tea (wholesale cost…what, like $0.01 per serving?) and water. Add the cost of the cup (an added $0.02 per serving) and I walk into Starbucks, stand in line, and plop down my $3.85 every time, knowing that I just made a completely illogical, irrational, totally emotional buying decision.

And so do you.

And so do your recruits.

My point is this: Whatever your recruiting message is, if it’s focused solely on the logical argument that your school and your program are the best choice right out of the gate, you may be making a huge mistake. Not because your prospect doesn’t need that. They do. It’s just that it may not be the right time as you start the recruiting process.

Why? Because like all of us, they are focused on the illogical. I guess what I’m saying is that before deciding that you’re going to lay out a logical course of action for your recruit, you might want to thoughtfully consider whether a logical argument is what is needed.

  • We find that a lot of recruits have an irrational love of the status quo: They don’t want change, they don’t want to leave home, and they don’t want to be faced with making a lot of changes – despite what you can offer them.
  • Many times, your prospect are emotionally connected to the symbol of a particular college name, or a conference, or a division level. It happens a lot. A LOT. And we find that prospects don’t talk about it with you because they know it’s illogical, but it’s hard to break away from those feelings. Really hard. (Hard for mom and dad, too).
  • Along with that comes a kind of community affiliation. The idea that they can be a part of a tribe they’ve always dreamt about is a tough thing to give up. Even if there’s little chance it will happen, or even if it does, it won’t be a situation that benefits the athlete. You’re probably thinking of a past prospect who fit that description right now, aren’t you, Coach? Their decision made no sense.
  • We have discovered through our ongoing research that today’s prospects are driven by fear. How is your recruiting message helping to alleviate that fear?
  • Some prospects’ parents are jealous of the other family’s son or daughter that they played high school or club ball with…the one who got the early D1 verbal offer. And now you want them to take something less than what their friends received? What, you don’t think that they deserve the same thing? (You get the picture).
  • And, the truth is, even though they’re being nice to you, they may not care about you very much. Yet.

So, do you see what I’m talking about when I suggest that your logical approach may not be what is appropriate right away?

Yet, time after time, we see logical adults who are logical coaches approach a very logical process in very logical ways.

And that’s not very logical.

Can I suggest to you that you might need to make a completely illogical argument as to why that recruit belongs at your school playing for you? Breaking out of the status quo is hard, and they’re scared of leaving home. Well, have you ever made a passionate, mostly emotional case as to why going away to school is not only the smart thing to do, but the choice that is going to make them feel good about themselves in the long run? I think you should.

Take any argument you find yourself hearing from a recruit as to why you probably aren’t the right choice, and use that as the basis for making an emotionally charged, obviously passionate case for why they need to look at your program.

If not you, who? If not at the start, when?

When you bought your last car, did you study the facts and statistics first? Or did you picture yourself in the drivers seat, and think about how it was going to feel when your friends we’re impressed with your new ride? Yeah, I thought so.

Don’t feel dumb, that’s how we make buying decision. Have you watched car commercials? Have you ever seen them make a logical case with a lot of text on the screen? No. They’re full of beautiful people, with big smiles, with upbeat music, and fast edits.

It’s an appeal to our emotions. Once you get into the car dealership, and they turn up the heat, it’s all about the payments and interest rate. It’s all about the logic, at that point (but that point is at the end of the process, not the start).

My advice: Find ways, right away, to feed their emotions and make a personal connection rather than a logical case. What you’ll find is that in doing that, you set yourself up for having them listen to your logical case much more intently once you have that illogical, emotional connection.

Streaming Music Has Taken OverMonday, October 24th, 2016

mike vizzoniMike Vizzoni, Front Rush

Gone are the days of frantically digging through a messy bedroom drawer in search of your prized cassette mixtape. Popping that cassette into a Walkman had a certain gratifying experience that slowly disappeared as music became less physical. Fast-forward to the 90’s and compact discs were all the rage. CDs were the first mainstream format that digitally stored audio recordings. This format may have been similar to cassettes in the way you played it back: simply popping it in your Discman or CD player and rocking out to the latest Weezer or perhaps Backstreet Boys album, but the fact that the music was stored digitally really opened the doors to further innovation.

Once the 2000’s came around we had entered the future. Forget about those clunky cassette tapes and flimsy CDs. Who needs a physical medium for each album when you can reduce that clutter to one MP3 player. With the introduction of Apple’s iPod and several other competing MP3 players, the digital format had officially taken over. The flow now consisted of building a digital library with software on your computer, whether that be iTunes, Windows Media Player, or any other similar product. This could be done by purchasing the content online or ripping songs from a CD to your computer. This was the standard for about a decade, but then smartphones and streaming took over.

Today almost everyone you talk to no longer builds digital libraries or use any type of analog music recording (except for the hipsters and their vinyl’s). The times have changed and we live in the age of communication where almost everything requires immediate gratification. With that need for immediacy came the idea of streaming. Streaming any type of content requires you to have an internet connection. This is necessary because whatever content you are trying to access is not actually housed on your device. You are pulling this data in from a server that could be anywhere in the world. Streaming can be used for many different types of files but let’s focus on music. Here are the most popular music streaming platforms:

Spotify (2008)

The most widely used music streaming service, this company is considered to be the pioneer of music streaming. Spotify has over 30 million paid subscribers. They have a smartphone app, a desktop client, and a web-based player. This company has been on the forefront and is now one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The music selection is very impressive, having almost any album you could think of. Special features include offline music play, automated playlist curated off of your listening history, shareable playlists, calibration that syncs music to your running tempo, support for Apple Air Play and Chromecast.

Pricing Model:

Free: Unlimited playback on desktop app, advertisements, no mobile support

Premium ($9.99/month, $4.99/month student $14.99/month family): Unlimited playback on both desktop and mobile app, no ads, HD audio, offline playback

30 Day Free Trial: Same as premium

Google Play Music (2011)

This was Google’s go at creating their own streaming service. Not nearly as popular as Spotify, but still a solid platform that supports many of the same features that Spotify has. Google has not released subscription numbers but most would agree that the majority of Google Play Music users are those that are already heavily involved in the Google ecosystem. They have a mobile app and web-based player. Special features include automated playlist curated off of your listening history, free music storage for files on your computer, Chromecast support.

Pricing Model:

Free: Upload your own music to stream from anywhere, purchase songs

Premium ($9.99/month $14.99/month family): Unlimited playback on web based player and mobile app, no ads, HD audio

30 Day Free Trial: Same as Premium

Apple Music (2015)

One of the more recent streaming services, Apple Music has garnered over 17 million paid subscribers in just over a year. This is pretty impressive and may have something to do with the fact that Apple already has a foot in the door when it comes to portable music and recently acquired the company Beats Electronics. The iPhone is one of the most popular smartphones currently in the market and Apple Music is built for this device. They have an iPhone app and desktop client (accessed through iTunes). Apple Music offers a 3-month free trial which really helped spike people’s initial interest.  Special features include automated playlist curated off of your listening history, artist exclusive releases, music video support, Apple Air Play support.

Pricing Model:

No free option

$9.99/month $14.99/month family $4.99/month student: Unlimited playback on both desktop and mobile app, no ads, HD audio

3 Month Free Trial: Same as above

These are just a few of the music streaming options available today. There are several others including higher end services such as Jay Z’s Tidal and simpler services that strictly offer playlists such as Pandora. The market is constantly expanding as well, with other companies trying to create their own platforms such as Amazon’s Music Unlimited that was just released last week. So, with all of these options how do you possibly pick the streaming service that is right for you? Well, it has honestly come down to preference. Each service is very similar and usually differs based off of small feature differences. Perhaps try each service’s free trial to see which one you like best. Personally, my favorite is Spotify. They have been around the longest and are constantly introducing new innovative features. I also find their user interface to be the friendliest.

For all you coaches out there, always keep in mind that music plays a massive roll in athletics. I’m sure you see many of your players listening to music in the locker room or on the way to games trying to get focused, relax a little, or pumped up before game time. One of the coolest features with Spotify is the ability to share playlists. Perhaps try creating a playlist with your team that you could then all access. Personalize it however you’d like and let all of your players add to it. This could be a great way for your team members to bond a little and get a taste of what each player listens to. Music undeniably brings people together and these streaming services make that experience easier than ever.

Determining If Your Prospect’s Objection Is RealTuesday, October 18th, 2016

NCRC1by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

They usually come up earlier rather than later – “Your campus is too small”, “It’s too close to home, and I already know everything”, “The food options aren’t great”,”The weather stinks”. The list goes on and on.

Your prospects list objections as to why your school isn’t going to be the right fit for them. Sometimes, they’re right. Much of the time they’re wrong. And I think the reason they’re wrong most of the time is because you haven’t corrected them about the common misconceptions that exist about your school.

Objections are okay…in fact I would argue you should actually seek out what a prospective student doesn’t like about your school. When was the last time a prospect or parent didn’t have any objections, hesitations or arguments with you about your school?

There’s an often overlooked secret that college admissions counselors tend to ignore when it comes to seeking out and overcoming their prospects’ objections.

The secret involves listening. I mean really listening.

Why is that so important?

Easy: If your prospect’s objection is real, they will usually repeat that objection more than once during your conversation.  That’s a big indicator that whatever the objection is, it’s real…and it needs to be overcome before you can expect your prospect to take the next step and move closer towards any kind of commitment to you and your institution.

When you listen closely and let your prospect talk out their feelings without interruption, you’ll also be able to determine if your prospect is stalling. Recognizing “stalls” is a skill that you need to develop. Stalling by your prospect usually indicates that they’re objecting to something, and they want you to explain why they should think differently.

If you think your prospect might be stalling, and you want to uncover a real objection, try using some questions like these:

  • “<Prospect name>, you’ve told me that you’re having a problem with _________, but I get the feeling you might actually have something else on your mind. What could that be?”
  • “Usually when a student tells me that, it means that they (objection). Is that the case with you?”
  • “I find that a lot of students have a question about (objection). Is that something that’s on your mind?”

Those three questions have helped our clients determine whether a prospect is really objecting to something or just stalling. I encourage you to try them out.

Overcoming objections is a key factor in successful recruiting. That’s why we’re making sure admissions staffs that take part in our On-Campus Workshops are getting the best training possible when it comes to overcoming objections. Whether you get training from us or another resource, learning to overcome objections is vital for your admissions career.

Last thing today: I’ve got an important question for you – I want to know what objection your admissions team is dealing with the most this fall.  Email me that objection right now…and as always thank you for your time and attention!

What May Be Delaying Your Prospect’s DecisionMonday, October 17th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 10.56.26 PMMore often than coaches realize, the thing that is grinding your prospect’s decision process down to a snail’s pace isn’t a “thing” at all.

It’s probably a person.

At an increasing rate, the individual recruiting scenarios we track and help manage for our clients that end up grinding to a halt late in the process are the result of a coach – club, high school, or private coach – advising their athlete (your recruit) to wait. Either for a potential “better” offer, or because the coach isn’t convinced that you are “the right fit” for their prospect.

If you don’t take control of that situation from the start, it’s likely that you’ll be plagued by the problem throughout the process.

And most coaches don’t.

You’ll know that you are in the middle of that kind of developing situation when one of these warning signs appears as you are in the middle your recruiting relationship:

  • You’ve had regular contact with your prospect, and it abruptly stops. Or, your normal mode of contact back and forth (by phone, text, etc.) becomes something less personal and less interactive (email, messages sent through the coach).
  • The parents of your recruit suddenly become the surrogate for communicating with you, mentioning that their son’s/daughter’s coach wants them to “slow the process down” or “take a look at all of our options”.
  • The coach, once someone who would keep you updated on the process and what was going on with the family, suddenly becomes vague about what is happening behind the scenes.

That’s not an exhaustive list, of course, but they are some of the telltale signs.

What prompts a coach to suddenly become involved in the recruiting process, sometimes in a negative way? Usually, it comes back to a realization by the coach that their rising young athlete is developing into an athlete that may warrant expanded attention from a variety of colleges. Sometimes, the coach has the best interest of the player at heart; they want them to have the maximum number of opportunities to take this next step in their sports career. Much of the time, your recruit’s coach sees an opportunity to bring added publicity and recognition to his or her program by having the highest level school(s) possible show interest and go through the recruiting process with their rising star. In other words, they see that there is something in it for them if they can parlay that recruit’s experience into a rising reputation for their club or high school program.

I’m not going to fault a club or high school coach for looking out for their own interests. That being said, I definitely don’t think you – as that athlete’s potential college coach – should refrain from looking out for your program’s best interests, nor do I think that you should give-up control of the decision making process to that other coach’s timeline.

The simple solution is, of course, to maintain regular contact with the family and coach as best as possible as the prospect goes through their more expanded search process.

The more complex – and more effective – long term solution to the issue comes back to a familiar theme: Recruiting the coach of your recruit through consistent messaging. The good news is that it doesn’t require quite the intensity as we would normally recommend in your communication with high school prospects: Our research and focus group studies with club and high school coaches shows that a recruiting message every 21-28 days is more than sufficient for the vast majority of coaches. And, unlike your recruits, coaches are really looking for one key thing: To be treated like a peer as you update them on the recruiting process with their athlete.

In other words, you need to justify why your program is a smart choice, while building up your personal connection with that coach through keeping them updated on what you are talking about with their athlete. Sell your program, and bring that coach into your inner circle when it comes to the recruiting process. Simple as that. And yet, even after reading this, the majority of college coaches won’t do much to improve the way they approach club and high school coaches they are in contact with. Even though it’s the only way we’ve discovered to bring a self-centered coach into your inner circle.

The number one complaint we hear club and high school coaches make about you, a college coach, is that when they have an athlete who is talented, college recruiters swoop in and want to be friends, and want their help in the process, only to disappear or go around them to get the athlete’s interest. It’s important that you remedy that feeling, Coach. If you don’t, and assuming your recruits’ reliance on their current coaches for advice and direction continues to deepen, you can expect the recruiting process to stumble in the years to come because of what club and high school coaches are doing to your efforts behind the scenes.

Want more insider advice and training when it comes to how to intelligently recruit your next class of prospects? Join other coaches around the country who are going through our Tudor University program. It’s online learning on your terms, and it gives you a clear foundation for recruiting excellence. It’s a small investment in your career, Coach. Click here for all the details.

Wearable TechMonday, October 17th, 2016

chrisMChris Mateer, Front Rush

I remember a cool fall day sometime around 10 years ago. My high school coach handed me a watch about the size of a hockey puck and told me to put it on for my training run. “It’s a GPS watch”, he said, “It will let you know exactly how fast you are running the entire time.” I had heard of GPS watches, but had never tried one out. The idea seemed silly and a little ridiculous. Why did we need this information when we never had before? Did our coach not trust we were running fast enough, far enough?

Now having spent years on the other side of the tracks in the coaching world, the answer is a lot clearer than it was to my 16-year-old self. The more you know, the better you can predict performance and plan workouts.

GPS watches are just one example of the rising tide of wearable technology tied to athletics. From heart rate monitors to devices that can measure blood lactate, there is an amazing amount of technology that can better help coaches condition their athletes and predict performance.  

The Classics

GPS Watch

GPS watches have gone from being a novelty in the running world to a staple. Before any group run, you will now see half the group wandering in a circle holding one arm up, hoping that extra foot is all that is needed to connect to the satellites. These watches track distance, current pace, average pace, and numerous other features depending on how complex (read: expensive) of a watch you’re looking to invest in. The feedback is instant and available with just a glance at your wrist.

For longer, evenly paced runs, GPS watches can provide invaluable feedback. With occasional exceptions, a consistent or gradually increasing pace is one that will provide the most benefits from a training run. Start off too fast and you’ll be running on fumes at the end, digging yourself into a hole for the next hard effort on the schedule. Start off too slow, and you might be missing some benefits of that particular effort.

For the coach, this data is a gold mine. Being able to see exactly how your athletes handle a set pace can give great insights into where their fitness lies. The best thing about the data that a GPS watch can provide is that it will not just tell you the average pace for the run, but a breakdown by kilometer or by mile. Did your athletes speed up as the run progressed or were they slowing down? If they’re struggling to hold pace, they may be starting too fast, not fully recovered from a past session, or not ready for the level they’re asked to be training at.

Heart Rate Monitors

Heart rate training was all the craze in the 90’s, taking the endurance world by storm alongside homemade sleeveless shirts and Walkmen. The general idea behind heart rate training is that specific heart rates can be tied to specific training zones. Our base of knowledge behind training theory has progressed however, complicating a once pleasantly simple theory.

The limitations to heart rate training are twofold: (1) heart rate can be influenced by factors outside of exercise intensity and (2) heart rate does not always directly reflect intensity. Studies have shown that heart rate during competition is often 10+ beats per minute higher than with the same intensity outside of competition. This is due to the adrenaline and additional stimulation that comes with competition. Keep in mind competition is only the setting that was studied. Plenty of outside factors can artificially stimulate heart rate, such as school related stress, a locker room argument, or seeing that cute guy on the team crushing an interval across the track. Furthermore, some athletes will report varying levels of effort at the same heart rate. Efficiency can and will widely between individuals.

Despite this, there is still some very valuable data that can be gleaned from heart rate training. Primarily, heart rate training can tell you when something is wrong. As long as a coach is familiar with an athlete’s normal heart rate for certain efforts, abnormalities can be detected almost immediately. If an athlete is lagging off a normal pace and her heart rate is through the roof, it might be time to scale back on the intensity. Odds are, this is the first sign of overtraining or some new stresses in the athlete’s life that are creeping into practice.

The New Wave

Blood Lactate Monitor

Blood lactate level is essentially the new heart rate training. Although lactic acid has been misunderstood in the past, the consensus remains that as the level of lactate in the blood increases, we fatigue and slow down. Lactic acid, along with other acidic by-products, are the result of anaerobic exercise. The better we can clear out and use these waste products, the further back we can push fatigue. The only problem is, unlike the simplicity of tracking heart rate, measuring blood lactate generally requires pricking an athlete’s finger repeatedly and running tests on their blood, all while they are exercising at a very high intensity.

A very new device is changing all of this. BSX Athletics has developed a device that is no larger than an iPod shuffle and can measure blood lactate in a completely non-invasive manner.  The device works through shining near-infrared light into the muscle and analyzing oxygen delivery in the muscle. Although it is still in its early stages of development, the accuracy has been reported to be within 90-97% of direct blood testing. However, with a $300 price tag, it may be some time before the portable blood lactate monitor becomes a mainstay among college athletic departments.

Power Output

Power output is the gold standard for cyclists, but still has yet to full transfer over to the rest of the sporting world. This is largely due to the fact there has yet to be a fool-proof way of measuring it. Power is an absolutely objective measure of how hard an athlete is running, regardless of conditions, terrain, or incline. While heart rate and blood lactate measure fatigue internal to the athlete, power output is all-inclusive. The wattage an athlete is producing exists independently of an athlete’s heart rate and blood lactate and the external environment. It is a completely objective measure of power and exertion.

A start-up known as Athlete Architect is working on a device that measures power output by measuring changes in speed versus an athlete’s given body weight. The device has not been perfected, however, and is still reporting roughly a 10% margin of error. Once this margin of error is narrowed down, we may be seeing a revolution in the way we can design and measure our training intensities. Soon, we may be shooting for a specific wattage, rather than a pace or heart rate.

What about my Fitbit and Apple Watch?

The Fitbit and Apple Watch are designed for general fitness and not the competitive athlete. Measuring steps outside of practice, calorie intake, and weight, can do far more harm than good for an athlete who is already pushing their body to the limit on a daily basis. Athletes are competitive and often obsessive, and the ability to measure and track exercise outside of practice is something that should be actively discouraged. When practice ends, recovery begins.

One great silver lining of the Fitbit, however, is the sleep tracker. During sleep, the body recovers and produces the HGH needed to rebuild muscles from intense exercise. Despite this, the life of a student athlete is far from ideal for getting the required 8-9 hours needed for top performance. Encouraging athletes to track their sleep patterns and be aware of not getting enough could be the key to staying healthy and performing at the top level when it counts.

When to Unplug

Technology should not be ever present when training. If you’re going out the door for a comfortable, relaxed effort with the main goal being recovery, leave the GPS watch at home. Athletes are competitive by nature. Being reminded of pace or effort on recovery days will only get in the way of staying relaxed enough to recover for future, key efforts.
Also, at a certain point in the season, some hard efforts can and should be done watch-less and without constant, external feedback. During competition, athletes need to be able to rely solely on internal feedback. Removing external feedback from the workout will force athletes to key in on an effort level, rather than a set pace, heart rate, or even power output. Come race or game day, this will leave them well prepared and able to respond to their own bodies. Finally, there is a time and place to just cut loose and go hard. I’ll leave you with this video showing dozens of Kenyan athletes trying to keep up with one of the best marathoners in the world: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shsKtA9yMukf

How to Make the Most of All Those New Prospect NamesTuesday, October 11th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

As your admissions team navigates through college fairs and high school visits I’m sure everyone has been accumulating plenty of new names to add to your database.

A popular question I’m asked this time of year goes something like, “How do we get these new students excited enough that they complete our application?”

That early impression, specifically the first one after a college fair or school visit, is something you don’t get a second chance to make. How are you going to begin creating those feelings that convince a new prospect (namely a high school senior or transfer) to take the next step in the process with your school?

Here are some things I want you to keep in mind as you begin communicating with those new prospects. To be clear, I’m not just talking about the letters and emails that you’ll be sending out.  Your follow-up, ongoing communication over these next few weeks will be almost equally, if not more, important.  Why?  Your new prospects are looking to see who contacts them consistently early on. In their minds this is a strong indicator of just how serious you and your school are about them.

If you want to make all those new prospects and inquiries count…

  • Deliver that first communication right away. Don’t start your recruiting relationship off on the wrong foot. There needs to be a system in place to get those new names into your system quickly. If that’s not happening right now you need to make changes, and fast.  Sending a new prospect their first communication in a timely fashion is extremely important. You also need to determine what type of communication you’re going to send. In most cases, we recommend our clients send a first contact letter instead of an email. It’s a tangible, safe interaction and one that our research finds effective.
  • Limit the selling.  This isn’t new advice, but rather a reminder, if you want to experience early reach-out success. Take it easy on all of the statistics about your school. Our research shows that prospects aren’t interested in being “sold” on your school right away. In fact, you can’t realistically do that in a first email, letter or phone call, so don’t try. The goal of your first contact or two should be finding out as much as possible about how the prospective student sees himself or herself going through the college search process.  Avoid asking them what other colleges they’re considering or which schools they’re most excited about at this point. Too much, too soon…that’s what your prospects tell us.
  • Tell them what you like about them (and be specific).  That’s the top thing young people want to know right away.  It’s also something that your competition probably isn’t doing, so you’ll stand out. Why do you think they’ll have no problem fitting in at your school? How can your school help prepare them for success after graduation? Those are the questions that you need to answer for your prospect early on.
  • Stay consistent. Make sure you’re communicating foundational, logical facts to your prospect every six to nine days through a variety of communication methods.  If you don’t do this you risk inconsistent recruiting results. Our research solidly indicates that when a prospect sees ongoing, regular contact from you, not only do they engage with the messaging on a more regular basis, but they also make the judgment that your school has a greater interest in them and values them more.  Those feelings are what you should want your prospects to feel.
  • Come up with more effective questions.  As we’ve discussed before, your prospects are nervous or in many cases scared to have a conversation with you…especially early on. If you want to change that then don’t ask questions like, “What do you want in a college?” That’s a question that gets a vanilla, untrue answer much of the time. Instead, ask them to walk you through how they’re going to make their college decision or ask them who else they’ll be leaning on to help them make their decision. The better the questions, the greater chance you have of connecting with your prospect, understanding their mindset, and ultimately coming up with a strategy to successfully recruit them.
  • Create curiosity. We frequently remind our clients about the importance of crafting a message or ending a phone call with unanswered questions, especially early in the process.  You want to create curiosity and prompt them to want more interaction from you…something that makes them want to go to the next step in their communication with you.  Ask yourself, “Am I creating curiosity when I talk with new prospects?”  (Hint: Creating curiosity is done by giving less information, not more).
  • Have a call to action. A call to action is what gets them to respond to you.  You need to tell your prospects what to do and how to do it.  Want them to call or email you?  Tell them that very clearly.  Tell them when to call, and let them know what you want to talk about.  Want them to reply to your email?  Be crystal clear on when to reply and what information to include. Not consistently having a clear call to action is the number one reason most communication flow plans fail. I’d also strongly recommend that you avoid asking new prospects to visit campus or complete your application in those first couple of contacts. When you do that it jumps several spaces ahead on their recruiting game board, and you risk coming off as disingenuous and too hurried according to our research. You need to build to that point. Only bring it up once you have either a) spent two or three conversations asking them questions and getting to know them, or b) they bring it up (that would apply to their parents as well).

Communication with new prospects and inquiries should result in one thing at the start of the recruiting process – a response. Your specific goal when a new student enters the funnel over the first few weeks should be creating an environment where they feel comfortable enough to communicate back and forth with you.

If you feel like you’re off to a slow start with this recruiting class, we can help. You’ll start to see a difference immediately after you implement our Admissions Recruiting Advantage program…just ask our clients. Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com to learn more.

Recruiting Reminders During My Daughter’s Campus TourMonday, October 10th, 2016

College visit picYour perspective on effective recruiting techniques always reach a new level when you experience it personally, through the eyes of one of your children.

My daughter is a high school junior, and we took her to visit a college for the first time yesterday.

Statistics, research, and all the data we accumulate for college coaches and admissions departments is important, of course. But as we always teach, these decisions are about feelings. And perceptions. Or misconceptions.

And all of those things are defined, on purpose or by accident, by the individuals leading a visit and the tour of campus.

Now, let me just say, the college staff was organized, friendly, knowledgeable, and generally put on a terrific day. Still, it was interesting to listen to other parents and kids going through the visit, as well as the comments from the prospective students on the visit. And there were several good reminders of what anyone showcasing a college should be doing to effectively reach this generation of teenager – and their parents:

Parents are running the show. We have a pretty long article history of outlining our research and advice when it comes to incorporating the parents of your recruit into the process. That was on full display as I walked around campus with other families. Parents were leading discussions, prompting their kids with the right questions to ask, and generally handling all of the tougher topics related to choosing a campus. And, as our focus group testing has shown in the last several years, the kids were fine with that happening; they were looking for their parents to provide direction and help them make decisions about whether or not that particular school would be a good fit for them. So, as we continually ask, how are you incorporating the parents into the recruiting conversation, and giving them a lead role in the decision-making process?

The more crowded the visit, the less effective the emotional connection. Let me say first that large group visits on big recruiting weekends are sometimes unavoidable. One of your recruits in a large group on your campus versus no recruit on your campus? No contest, get the recruit there. However, I was reminded again how hard it is to emotionally connect to a place (or to a coach, or a new group of friends on campus) in a large recruiting visit or tour group. There were parts of the visit that were crowded, difficult to hear the guide, or see everything there was to see. And it didn’t prompt many in-depth, personal questions from those of us attending (most families don’t want to interrupt the flow of the tour with the questions they really want to ask, based on our research). Again, that’s no fault of the organizers, it was just a byproduct of the numbers in attendance. My recommendation? Aim for as many one-on-one visits as possible. They have the highest closing percentage rates, and give your recruits the best overall emotional connections that you need them to experience.

Go deep with your questions. Speaking of parents and your visiting prospects not wanting to answer your questions in big groups during a tour: It’s up to you to take your upper-tier prospects aside at some point during the visit, and ask them questions. Deep, probing questions. It was striking to hear, towards the end of the tour and visit day, how many parents were talking with each other about the questions they had that they needed to investigate further – even though they had college representatives standing ten feet away. Why? It wasn’t the right setting. Had they been taken aside privately and asked questions about their experience, what hurdles they saw as a part of the process, and other decision related issues. Unless you focus on 1) creating a private, one-on-one setting, and 2) asking questions that require deep answers, don’t expect to take most recruiting experiences to the next level. They need you to lead them.

Talk about money as soon as possible. One of the most interesting observations of the day came in the general recruiting fair, where all of the different college departments had tables set up in order to answer questions. The table with the least amount of traffic? The college’s financial services table. Wait, you may ask, “if parents are so gung-ho on talking about money, why wasn’t that the most popular table at the fair?” Simple. Parents want to talk about their specific situations, privately, over an extended period of time. For athletes, they want that to be with their coach as often as possible – at least to kick off the conversation as a transition to speaking with someone else in financial aid (assuming you’re a non-Division I that isn’t offering a full athletic scholarship). The point is, parents are looking for financial definitions sooner, rather than later. Don’t disappoint.

Nothing is universal when it comes to how every single visiting recruit coming to campus is going to react to how your visit actually is produced. But there are some definite general rules we see being effective over and over again in the work that we do with our clients around the country. Use these four proven concepts as a starting point for re-evaluating how you execute your recruiting visits, and what needs to change to accommodate this new generation of prospective families visiting your campus.

Our staff works with college athletic departments, as well as admissions staffs, to help them communicate their recruiting message more effectively. We work with hundreds of programs around the nation, and have for the last decade. If you’re a coach or athletic director, contact Dan Tudor at dan@dantudor.com, and if you’re an admissions professional contact Jeremy Tiers at jeremy@dantudor.com.

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