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Coaches Are FreaksMonday, June 9th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Sunday I spoke at Dan Tutor’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, in Boston. It was a great conference, and I had a chance to talk about something I believe in strongly,coaches and their workplace.

Super audience, with coaches from around the country.

Fantastic speakers … a very intimidating, professional, and wonderful bunch.

And Dan, the host, was the ever gracious person. If you don’t know him, you can learn a lot from him. Guaranteed.

At 3:42 AM, before my talk, I woke with a start, and did a Hernán Cortés to my speech and slide deck. I created a new one, and by 10 AM I let it fly.

Here’s the topic:

COACHES ARE FREAKS…in a good-sort of way

While giving the talk, and in conversations after, I made several decisions:

  1. This is (coach’s and their work) something I deeply care about
  2. Coaches sure-as-heck care about it
  3. There are numerous struggles coaches have (as evidenced by the follow-up emails I’ve received)
  4. Coaches truly ARE freaks
  5. I’m going to write about it

Where this is going to go, I’m not sure.

But on the way home, flying Southwest, I did sketch this:

A quick running listing (unfiltered) of ideas are:

  • Coaches think differently
  • Coaches act differently
  • Coaches see the world differently
  • Coaches come to their vocation differently
  • Coaches are accountable at a different level than most others
  • Many coaches are under … underpaid, undersupported, underdeveloped
  • And many more

I’ll keep you updated. Coach well. We are counting on you.

BTW … Thanks Dan!

Don’t Veer For DeerSunday, November 17th, 2013

by Tyler Brandt, 7secondcoach.com

What does water going around a rock, hiking around the mountain instead of over it and swerving to miss a deer all have in common?

The path of least resistance!

But that’s not all they have in common, in those situations and many like them they also have the potential to create destruction in their wake. Water will cut through anything in its path as it goes around the rock. Adding hours, potentially days to a hike can be treacherous if it is not a planned part of the trip. 258 people are dead in my state because people chose to avoid a collision with a deer (path of least resistance) instead of attacking it head on – EVEN when all of the driving rules say DON’T VEER!! To often when we are not having the success we think we should be or want to have or a challenge arises suddenly, we VEER off our planned course. It is a natural reaction to attempt to avoid an interaction with a formidable force, however, staying on course usually brings a better result no matter what lays in front of you.

Athletes experience and learn early in their careers that executing a game plan yields success at a far greater pace than winging it or making it up as you go. As coaches, we spend the majority of our careers not just developing game plans but implementing and coordinating drills that will create the flawless execution of the game plan we’ve created. Collectively, a well developed plan by the coach and exemplary executed by the athlete delivers the greatest chance for success. Conversely, even when the plan is well conceived but the athlete deviates from the path, success is rarely seen and the collision will be with failure.

When you VEER off course, even because it seems like the right thing to do, it can have a catastrophic effect in the end. I have done and seen a lot of coaches, teachers and educational leaders come across a challenge, roadblock or obstacle and make drastic changes to the course they were on to try and compensate for the issue that popped up. Although you may take on some damage by facing a challenge head-on, the damage is often superficial rather then terminal. This was evident when I was a defensive coordinator and it was my job to take away the number one offensive threat. Getting the offense out of sync and changing their game plan was crucial to the teams success. One of my offensive coordinators had a saying – R.I.T.T.S.I., which stood for Run-It-Til-They-Stop-It. When he found a hole in the defense he would continue to exploit it (stay on course) until the defense change their game plan (VEERED off course) and then he would have them right where he wanted them – grasping for control!! No matter what sport you’re playing or coaching, it is imperative to stay on course.

Do not VEER off course, believe in the path that you have developed. Accept that challenges will always arise and that at face value you can tackle them head on and you will overcome whatever you come across with less damage to your athletes and team.

Tyler Brandt is a former college wrestling coach who now travels the nation speaking on coaching, motivation and professional performance.  For more information on Coach Brandt, and how he can work with your coaching staff or your team, visit his website at www.7secondcoach.com.

15 Effective Ways to Recruit the Coaches of Your ProspectsMonday, February 18th, 2013

It’s no secret that the current high school and club coaches are holding more and more power over the recruiting process, especially since so many college coaches are being forced to keep up with their competition by going through those prep and club coaches to arrange conversations with younger and younger athletes.

The result?  Saavy college coaches are realizing they need to systematically recruit the coaches of their prospects.

Of course, that’s a much more difficult challenge: Recruiting a prospect and his or her parents has a pay-off for them, in that they will receive scholarship money or at least the opportunity to have sports be a part of their college experience.  Their coaches, on the other hand, are (at their best) feeling a sense of needing to protect and shield their young athletes from college recruiters, or (at their worst) bent on guiding their young athletes towards the program that will bring the most notoriety and prestige to the high school or club program that they play for currently.

No matter their motives, they are now a major player in the battle for the best recruits.  And, how you “sell” them on your program is going to be an increasingly important piece in the overall recruiting puzzle – and how successful you are at it.

With that in mind, we compiled data from our On-Campus Workshop focus groups and our other research and came up with a list of the most successful ways to effectively recruit the coaches of your current high school and club prospects.  I don’t see it as being critical that you are doing each one of these things as a normal part of your recruiting process, necessarily, but a mixture of several of these proven strategies would be recommended as you approach coaches moving forward.  (Note: If you are a client, make sure to contact us for specific strategies based on your program’s specific focus group research before you contact high school or club coaches)

  1. According to our polling, 65% of club coaches have a negative view of college coaches during the recruiting process.  Why?  Primarily because the college coaches are only in contact with them while recruiting their athletes.  Develop an ongoing plan for contact with those coaches, even if you aren’t seriously recruiting those athletes.
  2. Just as it is important to prospects and parents, consistent contact (once every few weeks) that takes time to sell them on your program and college is key.  They want to be convinced why you are the best option for their athletes, and will respect you for putting forth the effort.  Few college coaches do it.
  3. They want to be treated as peers in the sport that you and they coach.  How are you proving to them that you respect them and view them as a coaching equal?
  4. I know you’re asking them for where you and your program stand with a recruit in their program, but how much are you asking them what kind of program they as their coach feel is the right fit?  If you can get an answer to that second question, you’ll probably also get your answer to the first question.
  5. Do you ask them for their coaching advice?  You should.  Do you ask them about practice or training ideas?  You should.  Those let them know that you see them as equals.  (Plus you will probably come away with some great new ideas!)
  6. I hear college coaches complain a lot about high school and club coaches that will offer up prospects from their team who are not quite the caliber of athlete you need to be successful at your level.  They would love it if you gave them a detailed list of exactly what you look for and the athletic standards by position that you have established, along with an explanation of why.  If you don’t, they will default to evaluating their talent for you based on their pre-defined view of your division level or college.
  7. Send them holiday cards throughout the year.  Obvious?  Yes.  Do you do it?
  8. Ask them for their evaluation of the prospect, and what specifically they would recommend doing once they got to your campus.  Make them a partner in this transition from high school to college.
  9. Ask them about the next two classes below the one that you are recruiting.  With the increased contact periods now allowed by the NCAA, you need to start earlier than ever before if you want to keep up with your competition.
  10. High school and club coaches value your presence.  I wish it wasn’t so, but you need to be at their facility viewing their talent on a regular basis (your prospects want that also, by the way)
  11. High school and club coaches want to be updated on where you are at in the recruiting process in the same way you want an update on where your prospect is at in the recruiting process.  That can be part of your regular communication with them.  According to them, it show professionalism and honesty on your part.
  12. Compliment those coaches in front of your prospects and (especially) their parents.
  13. Invite the high school or club coach to visit campus with the prospect when they come.  They’ll probably decline, but it will win points.
  14. Offer to speak with their team or give a short talk about playing in college while you are there watching them.  Make sure you link your talk and the reason you are there scouting with the fact that they have a great coach who you have a lot of respect for.
  15. If distance isn’t a factor, invite the team to watch you compete.  If possible, take them behind the scenes into your program and make it a truly personal game day experience for not only the specific kids you are recruiting, but the entire group and the coach.  Again, tie the invitation to the fact that they have a great coach.

It’s hardly rocket science, but these fifteen specific actions are what we have seen to be the best at creating powerful connections with a growing influential group of gate-keepers in the recruiting process.  Failing to actively and strategically approach them in the right manner will make the already difficult task of recruiting even more challenging.

Two great ways to gain more creative ideas for your next recruiting campaign:  Make sure you send someone from your staff to the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this June (click here) or enroll in our comprehensive online recruiting training program, Tudor University (click here).  Each is affordable and effective, and ensures that you keep on the cutting edge of the latest recruiting research and methodologies!

Looking to be a High Performance Coach? Take a Time Out!Monday, July 2nd, 2012

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

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

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7 Ways to Make It All About You (and Why It’s a Smart Recruiting Strategy)Monday, May 28th, 2012

A few weeks ago at an On-Campus Workshop I was conducting for an athletic department, it happened again.

A coach that I was speaking with had way too much modesty for his own good.  He was the nicest, most humble person you’d ever want to meet.  However, from a recruiting standpoint, it could be making a hard task even harder.

Why?  Because your prospects are trying to get to know their potential coaches.  They are trying to understand whether you want them or not.  And they are trying to formulate the beginnings of a relationship with you.

And when a coach is reserved, quiet, and – yes – even a little too humble, it makes it hard for a recruit to get a good “read” on who you are and, more importantly, whether or not you’re excited about the prospect of them competing for you.

It all illustrates a hard, cold fact of life for coaches that they need to understand about this generation of teenage prospects: Our reasearch shows that one of the two major factors in how they decide if a college is right for them is their view – and their relationship – with the coach at that school.  Take the coach out of the equation, and suddenly the college isn’t viewed in the same light as it once was.

Agree with me so far?  Good.  Now that I’ve established this nearly universal truth about today’s college prospect, here’s the bad news for a lot of you that are reading this:

The letters, emails and other printed material you send a prospect barely reference you.

I’m serious, Coach: What percentage of your mailings talk about you as a coach?  What you are like as a person?  What your coaching philosophy is?  What your plan for them is?  What you’d like them to do next in the process?

When we begin working with a college coach and their program as one of our Total Recruiting Solution clients, one of the first things we do is to establish the coach as the person that is going to be the main attraction to the program.  Sometimes, college coaches are uncomfortable with the idea of not being modest.  I try to make the best case I can for them to get past that feeling.

If it were all about the school, logic would dictate that a coach could leave and the recruits wouldn’t care one bit.  But that doesn’t happen: When a college coach leaves, it causes the recruit to reconsider.

So, how should you put yourself in the spotlight more effectively?  Here are some ideas that we’ve found to work well for our clients:

  • Make all of your messages centered around you.  As you lay out all of the nice facts about your school, make sure the conversation comes back to you.  Never assume that the school or your program is going to sell the recruit on coming to your campus.
  • Talk about the personal side of you along with the professional side of you.  Yes, your impressive win totals count, as do your Coach of the Year awards.  But your prospect is looking for more than that…they want to know the person behind the whistle.  Learn ways to reveal the real you to your recruits.
  • Unveil your screw-ups.  Your prospects know you’re not perfect.  Don’t be afraid to talk about the mistakes you’ve made, and what you learned from them.  In our workbooks for college recruiters, we make the point that this is one of the best techniques for breaking down walls that might exist between you and your recruit.
  • Invest in your Twitter presence daily. It’s an incredible social networking tool that is paying off for the coaches that are using it to build a following.  Twitter is free, it’s easy and it’s a great way to reveal the real you to your recruits (and your fans, and your boosters, and other coaches and Athletic Directors that might be looking to hire you).  It’s important that you maintain consistency, which means posting daily, and making sure that you share things that show your recruits the personality of your team and your program.
  • Create a fan page on Facebook and Instagram. If you don’t have one yet, this is a prime opportunity to showcase your team and update your recruits on what’s going on with you and your program using the most popular communication tool in the world.  This can be one way communication out to a group that broadcasts the daily pulse of you and your program.  While you’re at it, you need to make sure you’re on Instagram, as well. Especially if you coach a women’s team, but increasingly for male recruits as well.
  • Write a blog.  The benefits are too many to count.  If you want more ideas on what makes a great blog, and how to get started, click here for a popular article on the topic that we wrote a few years ago on the power of this under-used medium.
  • Make it all about the conversation.  All of your communication should focus on building the relationship between you and the prospect.  Not the school and the prospect, you and your prospect.  Everything you send out should prompt them to feel more connected with you.

Here’s the bottom line, Coach:

Whether you’re a Division III softball coach that only won three games last season, or a Division I coach that we see interviewed regularly on ESPN, the facts remain the same: Your prospects are going to pick the program who has the coach they feel most connected to.

Still don’t believe me?  Just ask one of the dozens of recently de-committed prospects who are searching for a new coach they feel connected to…they’ll back me up on what I’m saying.

Irrational Recruiting Decisions Made by Recruits (and College Coaches)Monday, May 14th, 2012

It’s the thing that drives recruiters absolutely crazy when it comes to understanding how teenage athletes make their final decisions.

Most of the time, they make irrational final decisions.

This past year it seems like I’ve seen more examples than ever of that in our ongoing work with college coaches.  Here are some of the constants I see in this generation of recruits when it comes to how they are choosing the school that they would describe as “the right fit” for them:

They are deciding based upon their emotions. That includes both male and female prospects, Coach.  How they feel – and how their parents feel – about you and your program seem to consistently seem outweigh the logic and facts behind your program.

They aren’t taking a long term view of their college experience. Make no mistake, they start thinking about it right after they make their decision (hence all the de-commits and second looks) but as they are making their final decision (the first one, anyway) they are, in large part, considering what feels right at that very moment.  I’ve said it many times before: They choose with their hearts, and justify that decision with their head.

They are conscious of the highs and lows in recruiting. If you skip talking to them for a few weeks, expect them to be looking elsewhere for options.  If you’re consistently talking to them?  You earn big points.  And so it goes…up and down, over the course of recruiting.  And they are remembering who is giving them those highs (and lows) and factoring that in to their final decision.

They are relying on others to help them make their decisions. Primarily their parents, followed closely by their high school and club coaches.  Our research shows that they will often go against what their own gut is telling them and side with these highly influencial outside decision makers.  It doesn’t make sense, but that’s what is happening.

They will often turn to irrelevant statistics to justify their actions. You’ve seen it before:  You hit it off with the prospect, mom and dad love you, she’s a perfect fit for your program, but then at then end she chooses the school that finished two spots ahead of you in the U.S. News rankings for their major.  Will those extra two spots on the list make her happier in the long run?  Of course not.  But right now, it makes her feel like she made a smarter decision.

We could add more to that list, of course.  Or we could end it here and just agree that this generation is a tough one to recruit, and resign ourselves to just rolling the dice and hoping to get lucky every few years with a great recruiting class.

That’s not the smart approach, though.  Yet that’s the attitude of many college coaches: They lament the problem after correctly identifying it, and then don’t do anything to change their prospect’s irrational outlook despite knowing that they are taking that approach.  In other words, I see coaches reacting to their prospects’ irrational behavior during the recruiting process with their own irrational behavior.

Am I suggesting you fight irrational behavior with your own version of irrational behavior?  Yes.  I’m giving you permission to attract this next class or recruits using techniques that will help prompt your recruits to stop in their tracks and snap out of their irrational decision making process.  See if any of these ideas might work for your recruits:

  • Make your case with more passion than the other guy. If your prospects are using emotion to make their decision, we’ve seen plenty of cases where the coach who shows the same kind of passion and emotion connects the best with that athlete.  And the last time I checked, passion isn’t a budget related item that your competitor has more of (unless you let them).
  • Challenge them: Tell them that they are going about all this the completely wrong way.  Once you have their attention, make your case that they need to reconsider how they’re deciding on a program.  Get them to take a second look.  Compel them to continue the conversation with you…but start it off by contending that they are doing it wrong right now.  Get their attention!
  • Ask them, “Is that the smart way to do it?”  Maybe the answer is yes.  Or maybe it isn’t.  Asking that question and actually getting them to think about everything in a new light is one of the most productive challenges you can issue during the recruiting process.
  • Counter their illogical views with logical facts.  Again, the theme here is “do the opposite”.  It worked for George Costanza, it can work for you (if you aren’t a “Seinfeld” fan, that won’t mean much too you).  If they are all about the feelings, and you can’t seem to connect with them, stop them in their tracks with facts that go against their emotions.
  • Always include the parents and coaches.  Clue them in on what you’re talking to the prospect about, and why it’s important that your point of view should be seriously considered.
  • Exude a confidence – even if you’re not feeling like you have any! – that tells them they’d be CRAZY not to choose you.  No explanation needed, Coach.  The only thing I’ll tell you is that your prospect and their family are looking at you closely, and trying to figure out if you really believe what you’re selling.

Don’t fret about a prospect acting irrationally, Coach.  Develop a strategy around it to ensure that they’ll pick you and your program!

We’re beginning our planning sessions with new clients for this next recruiting class.  Want to talk to us about working one-on-one with you and your staff to develop a rock-solid recruiting plan?  Contact Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com so we can set up a time to discuss how we do it, and why it works.

 

Three Ways to Make Sure You’re a More Organized CoachMonday, December 19th, 2011

Coach, I’m sure you understand the frustration that comes with leaving the office and not feeling like you got the right things done.

Getting done all of the things we have to do as a coach is tough enough.  I know, because I am a D1 college soccer coach.  Now that I am married and have children, all the extra time I had to hang out in the office getting work done, make phone calls, talking with fellow coaches, recruit on the weekends from morning to night, is now not an option like it was when I was single.

For me, especially once my son was born, I realized that I needed to get the same amount of work done in half the time so I could spend more time at home.  I needed a plan.

I did some research and found three time management tools and techniques that I have put to use in an effort to increase my productivity, get more organized, and to regain my sanity.  I found that each of them takes a little time to learn and master, but trust me, it will pay you back in greater efficiency and effectiveness!

1.  Use a time planner. I think most coaches use a planner already.  But if you are anything like me, I had a notebook for my practices, my daily calendar where I put my to-do lists, a separate notebook with my goals, and then scattered on the 3 different computers and all of my zip discs were all of my recruiting plans and notes.   I needed to create a time planning system that would enable me to plan for the year, the month, the week, and for each day all in one that contained everything I needed to organize my coaching responsibilities and personal life. Since no planner exist that had everything that I needed, I created one.  This planner allows me to set and keep track of my goals, organize my recruiting, keep track of what I am doing with my team, etc.  Whatever time planner you use, make sure you are able to capture every task, goal, or required action as it comes up.

2.  Always work from a list. Working from a list has been one of the most powerful tools for me in becoming more productive with my time.  When you create your daily list, you begin by writing down every single task that you intend to complete over the course of the day.  I figured out that what I needed to do in a typical day fell into one of four categories: team, recruiting, administrative, and personal.  I organize and prioritize each task based on what category it falls in and then that list becomes a map that guides me from morning to evening in a very effective and efficient way.  At the end of the day, I take 10 minutes before I leave the office to make my to-do list for the next day and then review it again before I go to bed.  It is amazing how much more focused I am and how much more I get done when I have a plan of attack already set before I get into the office.

3.  Time block your day. Once you have your to-do list and have organized them based on importance or priority, block off a section of your day where you focus on only one thing at a time.  For example, I have the most energy and get the fewest interruptions first thing in the morning.  For me, recruiting is the task that I feel is most important in building my program into what I want it to be so I schedule it first.  From 8-9am every morning, I shut my door and all I do is recruiting tasks: I send and return emails, plan recruiting trips, plan my next month’s recruiting messages, meet with my staff to discuss who we are going to make calls to, etc.  I don’t answer my phone, I don’t return any new emails that have come in.  All I do is focus on recruiting for that hour.

Just by doing these three things, I am amazed at how much more I get done and that I even have time left over in the day before I head home.  I love the peace of mind and feeling of control that I get knowing that I am scheduling my day based on my program goals and getting it all done before I leave.

Mandy Green is the author of a soon-to-be-released productivity guide and calendar especially designed for college coaches.  Look for more details soon!  You can find more articles on organization and planning your coaching and recruiting life here.

Why You Should Recruit Junior College Prospects DifferentlyMonday, April 11th, 2011

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