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The Scientific Method: Anyone Can Do It!Monday, August 29th, 2016

bill_headshot_dantudorBill Lynch, Front Rush

Today we’re going to talk about how the Scientific Method translates to coaching.  I know everyone has learned about this topic in school at one point or another, but it doesn’t hurt to get a refresher –  especially when I’m positive you already use it in your daily lives, even if you don’t actively know it.

Definition

Let’s talk about the definition real quick.

The Scientific Method

It is a process that is used to find answers to questions about the world using measurable evidence.

In other words, it’s a way to answer questions using data.

The Origin Story

In 16th century Italy one of the most famous thinkers in history, Galileo Galilee, wondered whether two differently weighted objects would hit the ground at the same time if dropped together from the same height.

Back in the day the philosopher and scientist Aristotle said a heavier object would hit the ground first, but Galileo wasn’t convinced. So he designed an experiment to test his belief that both objects would hit the ground at the same time.  

He walked up to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and dropped a heavy sphere and a light sphere off of the tower at the same time.

And boom goes the dynamite, they both hit the ground together, proving his theory.

How does the Scientific Method Apply to You?

Dan_tudor2

Ask a Question

Take a second to think about a question you would like answered.  

This could be something along the lines of “Which player is faster than the other?”, “When is the best time to email my recruits?”, “What’s the best play to run given a certain game situation?”, or “What’s the quickest route to work?” to name a few.  

You go through the same motions with all of these questions, no matter how different they seem to one another on the surface.

Make a hypothesis

For each of those questions and for the question you thought of on your own, we already have a hunch as to what the answer may be.

We may think we know the answer, that “A is faster than B”, or “Emailing during lunchtime is the best if you want a response”, or “Punt on 4th and long” but we want to be sure.  Those are our hypotheses and we’re going to prove them one way or the other.

Test the hypothesis with an experiment

The way to prove if our beliefs are true or not is with an experiment.

I am part of the school of thought that simpler is better, and it often holds true with the scientific method.  You don’t need to have a crazy formula or experiment designed to draw insightful conclusions.

Most of the time analyzing averages and counts will suffice because they’re easy to analyze and causality is usually clear.

For instance…

  • To find out if “A is faster than B” we can check their average times in the 40m/60m/100m/etc.  
  • To find out which time of day is best to get a response from a recruit, take notes for a week or two on the open rate of emails, count them up, and see which hours yield the highest open rate.  
  • To find out if you should “Punt on 4th and long” or run another play, see how many times not punting on 4th and long worked for you or see how many times punting on 4th and long led to a 3 and out on the other end.

Come to a conclusion, and Communicate the Results

Now take a look at the data you compiled.  If we’re working with counts, look at the value with the highest count. If we’re working with averages, take the one with the highest average.

From that information, you might start player A over B, send emails out at lunchtime, and become more confident that punting on 4th and long is the way to go most of the time.

You just used the scientific method. You…

  1. Thought of a question
  2. Stated your beliefs
  3. Gathered data and tested it with an experiment
  4. Came to a conclusion and communicated your results

Everywhere you look, information is being captured, quantified, and used to make decisions.  Feedback from even a few experiments can yield immediate results. Also as we’ve demonstrated today, you don’t have to be using sabermetrics to find insights in your data, but it’s worth brushing up on the basics of quantitative analysis.

Remember, anyone can do it!

The Little Things That Go A Long WayMonday, January 18th, 2016

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

Recently I was asked by a few coaches to give them my top 10 coaching management books.  Number one on my list was a book called “Winning” by Clive Woodward.  

I had the privilege to be a part of an amazing lecture about team management around 10 years ago.  In this lecture, the speaker told us about the book Winning! The book is about the process coach Clive Woodward went through in turning a struggling England National Rugby team into an International Rugby powerhouse.

In an effort to take his team from good to great, Woodward set out to create a unique and incredibly special experience for the players coming into his program.  His ultimate aim was to make the environment so good that once the players had experienced it, they never wanted to be left out of it. 

Woodward created this experience and environment by focusing on the little things he called Critical Non-Essentials (CNE’s).  CNE’s are all of the little things or details that make your program what it is.  Not just any kind of detail, but the development of things that would and could set your program apart from everybody else.   

These CNE’s that he focused on included: the locker room (seating, equipment, lockers, extras, decorations, laundry); dress code (home games, away games); sports information (web, game, media guides, TV, radio, other); practice (before, warm-up, training, cool-down); equipment (practice gear, game gear, logo’s, colors, misc); game day environment; medical/rehab/recovery; nutrition; fitness/strength and conditioning.

So, how does this apply to recruiting?

What do you do to set yourself apart in the eyes of your recruits if your main competitors have the same quality of players, the same resources, and the same standard of coaching?  To be even better and set yourself apart from your rivals you have to do everything in your power to improve the Critical Non-Essentials of your program.

In my usual weekly readings, I learned that Pete Carroll, when he was the coach of the USC football program, sat down with his staff and captains at the end of every season and analyzed EVERY aspect of the program, from their practice tee-shirts to their game day routines.  They would sit down and he would ask “How can we make this better?”  He did all of this in an effort to create the most productive and special experience for his players.  His players knew that Coach Carroll was willing to go the extra mile for them and it not only showed in how hard they played for him, but in the quality of recruits he kept signing year after year.  

With all of the other things that need to get done in a day, I find with most coaches these little details are what get put on the back burner and never fixed.  The time spent doing this will not only create a more loyal team, it can and will be something you can use as a selling point that will separate you from the rest of the pack.  

Here is what I recommend: buy the book if you have a chance because there are a lot of really great ideas about team management in there.  Just a warning, it is a pretty long book and is mostly about Rugby (a sport I don’t think I will ever understand).  It will be well worth your time to read through it though.  

Next, take the time to examine every aspect of the players’ experience within your program (critical non essentials) and discuss it thoroughly with your team.  Don’t just do this exercise with your coaching staff!  

This is a great exercise to get your team involved with.  Empower your team to give you feedback on how they would like things to be.  You have the ultimate veto power, but let them come up with ideas on what could make each aspect of what they experience within the program everyday a little better.  

If you want more from the players, you first have to give them good reasons why they would want to put in the extra effort.  You do that by making the critical non essentials better.  If you make your program attractive, prestigious and exclusive enough, not only will the players give everything they have within them and more, it could be something that sets your program apart from the rest in the eyes of your recruits.  

The soccer team I was coaching before I read the book was 9-6-3 that fall season.  I was then introduced to Clive Woodward’s ways that next winter.  I applied every piece of information I read in that book in the off-season with the team and went from 9-6-3 to 17-3-1 the next season.  It took A LOT of time and effort to implement these ideas, but the results we got were amazing.   Not only was the team excited and committed to the direction the program was headed, and with the experience they were having, the recruits we brought in during that time were pretty impressed as well.  I signed my top 6 recruits that fall!   

Take the time to do this coach with your staff and team.  It will take some work and patience, but you will reap the benefits from this simple exercise for years to come.  

Mandy Green has been a College Soccer Coach for more than 17 years and is the founder of Coaching Productivity Strategies, where she helps coaches develop and discipline their time management. Mandy teaches practical and immediately usable ideas, methods, strategies, and techniques that will help you achieve more, work less, and win more daily work and recruiting battles. When you learn and apply these powerful, practical techniques, you will dramatically improve the quality of your life in every area. To get more awesome collegiate-specific productivity expertise, go to www.mandygreencps.com and opt-in! 

3 Ways Your Prospect’s Feedback is Getting Lost in TranslationMonday, October 14th, 2013

When you think about it, your prospects – and their parents – actually do say quite a bit during the recruiting process.

I mean for all of the complaining that we do when it comes to the non-communication coming from the recruits you’re trying to have a conversation with, when you think about it they give you a good deal of feedback.  They’ll tell you what they’re looking for in a college, or what they like in a coach, or what they think about the idea of leaving home.  When you ask a question, they’ll do their best to give you an answer.

And that’s where we find the problem occurring.

Coaches are listening to what they’re hearing from prospects and parents (or, many times, from their coach) and they’ll take that feedback at face value.  In other words, a lot of coaches assume that the recruits they’re talking to are actually giving them accurate, truthful information.

Much of the time, that’s not the case.  I’m not suggesting that your prospects are being deceitful on purpose, by the way.  However, I do think that much of what you’re hearing during certain points in the recruiting process needs to be “translated”…their feedback needs to interpreted differently than you’re hearing it.  Not all the time, but much of the time.

Here are four main topics or phrases that you may be hearing as a college recruiter that need to be “translated” into what they might really be trying to say:

“We’ve still got a few more campuses to visit before we make our final decision.”  

POSSIBLE TRANSLATION:

“Your campus was nice, but we’ve still got a lot of unanswered questions before we could think seriously about committing to you, and we’re hoping that another coach makes it easy to love them by giving us the information that you didn’t.”

I started with this because I know many of you are in the middle of campus visits, and you’re always anxious to hear how your prospects liked you, your team, and your college.  If they talk about still needing to take campus visits, and they aren’t ready to decide that you are “the one” after visiting your campus, you can be fairly certain that there are objections left unanswered in their mind, or something on the visit didn’t quite mesh with what they were looking for.

Your job, as a serious recruiter, is to ask them questions that can get them to reveal how they really feel after a visit.  And, if they don’t seem ready to get serious about taking the next step, it’s your job to find out what they didn’t seem to find when they visited campus, or what new questions the visit raised in their mind.

Far too often, college coaches that we advise give their prospects the benefit of the doubt waaaaay far too many times, assuming that the family is engaged in a logical, reasoned evaluation of their visit and just wants to compare apples to…even more apples.  Most of the time, that’s not the case.  It’s far simpler than that.  They just didn’t find all of what they were looking for when they were face to face with you and your program.

“I’ve never really thought about going away to school that far away from home.”

POSSIBLE TRANSLATION:

“At this point, there’s no way on God’s green earth that I would go to school that far away from home.”

If you’re recruiting out-of-area prospects (and you should) understand that the number one reason you will end up losing that prospect to another college is due to the distance from home.  Many recruits are very open to going away from home, but a large percentage either haven’t considered it as an option because of their parents, or have decided that it’s not an option even with their parent’s support.

Not wanting to go away to college is fine, of course.  It’s not for everyone, and I don’t suggest that any coach should fault a prospect for not being interested in your opportunity.  However, I do want them to tell you the truth and reveal – as early in the process as possible – whether or not going out of area for college is a possibility.

How should you do that?  First, focus on the parents.  Our research shows pretty conclusively that how a recruit feels about going out of the area for college is a direct reflection on how the parents feel about it.  And if the parents aren’t on board with the idea, it’s not likely you will be successful recruiting that prospect.  Ask the parents of your out-of-area prospect how they feel about the idea, and if they see it as a possibility.

With your prospect, you need to ask them why specifically they feel they would want to truly go away to college.  What makes that exciting to them?    Why do they feel that would be best for their athletic and academic career?  What have their parents said about the idea, and are they o.k. with not seeing you compete on a regular basis?  If your prospect has trouble answering those questions, or it sounds like they really haven’t thought the whole thing through, it means you have more work to do.  It’s not a lost cause by any means, but don’t assume that it’s a slam dunk, either.

“We’re still thinking about everything, and really haven’t made a decision yet, but don’t worry…we really like you and your staff and you’re one of the schools we’re seriously considering.”

POSSIBLE TRANSLATION:

“We’re not coming to your program unless these three other possibilities fall apart, but you’re a really nice coach so we don’t want to hurt your feelings by having to tell you ‘no’ directly.”

As you move through the process, you may hear something like this given to you as feedback by your recruit.  What I want to tell you is that they aren’t telling their top school this…just you.  And that’s a problem.

The later the recruiting process goes, the more you need to assume that your prospect is not being truthful with you.  I hate to be so negative, but it’s for your own good…more coaches are suckered in to that feedback from their recruits and end up getting jilted at the end when they say yes to your conference rival (the one that’s closer to home, of course) than get word that after careful and measured consideration, you are the program that they’re choosing.

If you hear this kind of feedback as the recruiting year gets later and later into the calendar, you need to start asking your recruits – and their parents – some serious questions: What is it that you’re thinking about?  What are the one or two big questions that you still have in your mind when it comes to my program our the college?  Look for things that they’re unsure about, or need more details on…or, get them to admit that your program is a long shot, and determine that it’s probably going to be a “no” (because in our experience in tracking lots of recruiting conversations for our clients, you’ll get the same answer three months from now as you did when you press for an answer today).

Those three scenarios aren’t an exhaustive list, of course, but it’s a good representation as to what we hear prospects telling coaches, when they mean something completely different.

We just want to make sure you’re looking at your recruiting list – and every prospect on it – with complete accuracy and honestly.  To do that, you need to intelligently interpret their “recruit-speak” into real world feedback that you can use to make important decisions for your program.

5 Things Your Prospect’s Silence Could Be SignalingMonday, January 28th, 2013

Sure, it may be a virtue, but patience is still tough to come by if you’re a college coach who isn’t getting the kind of response he or she expects from their prospect.

Especially this time of year.

Early winter is one of the roughest times of year to maintain, or continue, good communication with recruits you have been in contact with.  I could be describing some of your Seniors who have an offer, but haven’t come to their final decisions yet.  Or, I might be talking about your underclass prospects, who are done with the initial excitement of first hearing from you and are now feeling ill-equipped to continue the conversation with so much time left to go before they are close to reaching a final decision.

In either scenario, or a cavalcade of others that you and your fellow college coaches could easily add to that list, the immediate reaction is a combination of frustration and urgency.  And when a college recruiter is frustrated and feeling pressured when engaged in ongoing communication with their recruits, bad things often follow.

Those are the coaches who set unfair deadlines late in the game…stop communicating all-together…ask end-of-the-process questions way too soon in an effort to get a decision (or the hint of one).

All of these actions could be devastating, not only in your efforts to continue effective communication with your prospects, but also in your efforts to eventually win over that prospect as their final choice.

But rather than give you a list of things you should be asking or doing with your recruits at this point in the process (check our blog archives for lots of information on that topic), I wanted to take you inside your prospect’s head and give you an idea of what they might be thinking or feeling.  There’s a reason for the silence, and it’s important that you understand some of those motivations that will lead them to stop communication with you.  That understanding will give you the roadmap you’ll need to continue – or reignite – effective communication with your recruit.

Are are five of the most common factors behind your prospect’s silence:

  1. They aren’t interested any longer, and they just don’t want to tell you. This is one of the most common reasons for non-communication, which you probably already know as a college recruiter.  Why don’t they just tell you that they’ve lost interest?  Our research tells the story: They are afraid you’ll get mad at them, first and foremost.  Secondly, they don’t want you to criticize their lack of interest.  That fear manifests itself through silence.  By being silent, they hope you just sort of fade away so that they don’t have to have that uncomfortable conversation with you.  If you don’t confront it and address it, you might find yourself months down the road still hoping for a revival in good communication with your recruit.  (If you want to dive in deeper into some of the reasons we find recruits being hesitant to tell you the truth, watch our quick webinar training video on this important topic).
  2. They don’t know if you’re serious about them, so they aren’t sure they want to invest time into you. How could they get the impression that you aren’t serious about them, when you clearly are?  The most common answer we hear when we conduct focus groups on the topic is simple: Inconsistency in the story that is told, primarily through letters and emails.  Coaches who send a few things at the start of the recruiting process, and then slowly trail off into inconsistent messaging, almost guarantee this result.  How can you expect your recruits to have a reason to keep communicating with you when you haven’t done the same with them?
  3. They’re interested, but don’t know what to do or say next. This usually results from coaches who make their conversations and messages all about giving information about their school and program, sprinkled in with “how-you-doing?” phone calls that don’t progress the conversation to the next step.  And that’s what they’re looking for: “The next step”.  They might like you, they might like your school…but what are you talking about that actually focuses on the topic of what the next step in the process is?  Is it talking with the prospect’s parents?  A visit to campus?  There has to be a logical next step that you guide them towards.  If you are noticing increasing silence, it could be because they’re stuck and don’t know what to do or say next.  Lead the way, Coach.
  4. They don’t like talking on the phone. Seriously, Coach…it could be as simple as that.  If you’ve moved through the communication process and are at the point where you think talking on the phone is the most personal, most effective method of communication, make sure your prospect feels the same way.  Most recruits don’t like speaking on the phone, but just won’t tell you (again, because they don’t want to offend you).  Better make sure you’re on the same page with them, and if you find that phone calls just aren’t working then revert back to email or text communication in an effort to get some kind of conversation going again.
  5. They’re busy and overwhelmed. When we look at our research data, the two most common reasons recruited high school student-athletes give as reasons for not being prompt in returning a coach’s call is that they’re busy with high school life, as well as being overwhelmed with the number of different coaches they have to talk to.  There is a real inability to devote time to all of those coaches, as well know what to talk about with all of them.  I’m not suggesting that you utter a few magical words to fix this situation – nor am I suggesting there are any.  However, I want you to know that your prospect might be very interested in what you’re offering them. They just might be a little overwhelmed at this point and feel like they don’t know what to say next (or if they’ll have time to say it).

Silence from your recruits later in the recruiting process is a common problem, and I would advise you to expect it from the vast majority of your recruits. What results from that silence on their part is the crucial aspect of all this.  That part is up to you, Coach.  Make sure you know why they’re being silent, and then effectively address those concerns.

Cutting edge research and techniques are just a few of the reasons to be at this June’s annual recruiters weekend, the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  You need to be there, Coach…it’s going to be an incredible weekend of learning and networking from some of the best recruiting experts in the country!

Click here for all the information on this popular event for college coaches from around the country.

Four Facts to Focus On That Your Recruits REALLY Care AboutMonday, February 27th, 2012

You throw them around all the time.

You use them to sell your college, and you use them to combat a competitor’s advances.

If you’re a fan of classic television, Sgt. Joe Friday on the old “Dragnet” detective show was famous in asking for only these things.

We’re talking about facts.

But here’s the challenge for savvy recruiters:  Which facts are worth talking about, and which ones just take up space in your messages our to your prospects?  Moreover, what facts may actually be hurting your recruiting efforts?

We began asking that very question, beginning in 2011, with the athletes of our clients and during focus groups at our On-Campus Workshop.  Our theory at the time was that all the facts a coach presented to a prospect played a part in their final decision.

We were only partially correct.  Here’s why…

While today’s prospects do rely on facts about a college to form their overall opinion of the place, it is most effective when recruiters tie that fact directly to a benefit the athlete will receive as a result.

This is a very important distinction that coaches need to begin implementing.  Again, when you state a fact as a selling point of your program, it is vital that you take the extra step in explaining to your prospect exactly how they will personally benefit from that fact.

The reason is simple, really:  Our research shows that prospects won’t “connect the dots” between your points of benefits and what it means for them personally.  As we discuss at length in our two recruiting guides for college coaches, your recruits rely largely on their feelings – how they feel about you, your team, and your campus – to make their final decision.

However, when you can add facts that will personally benefit the prospect, and get them to understand those selling points, you win; more often than not, good feelings about your program coupled with these personalized facts are almost impossible to ignore.

To get you started, here are a few of the top facts that we’re finding recruits rating as most important in their decision-making process:

  • Your on-campus housing. According to the research we’ve conducted, it’s the clear #1 on the list in your recruit’s mind.  Interestingly, you don’t always need the newest and biggest dorms or apartments to win.  Instead, you need to make sure your recruits understand how they will have fun living there.  By the way, your team’s opinions and personal stories go the furthest in selling your on-housing campus to your recruits.
  • The food on campus. Prove to your recruits that they will eat well, and you’ll have an advantage over most of your competition.  Food, and the socialization around gathering together in a community on campus and “breaking bread” together, is one of the biggest comfort areas that your recruits are looking for when they come to visit campus.
  • The vision for your team. It’s very important that you clearly explain where the program is heading, and how the prospect will play a part in the plan.  Make sure you go into as much detail as possible when it comes to your plan.  And, if possible, have a separate conversation about that plan with your prospect’s parents.
  • How a degree at your school will trump a degree at another school. Coaches love to talk about the academic strengths of their college, but talk is cheap.  You’d better be ready to prove it to your prospect, and give them real-life examples (personal letters from your former players are great, by the way!) as to how your school is going to give them a better launch into their career after sports is done.

The misuse of facts is a major problem in recruiting.  We see it almost daily.

If you’re a coach who commits themselves to taking the extra step of stressing facts that your athletes care about, as well as finding how best to tie that fact personally to your recruit, you’ll most likely gain the upper-hand over your competitors who are content with reading this research and then choosing not to change the way they are telling their story.

Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help you formulate your strategy when it comes to presenting facts about your program that get attention. We can take our research and put it to work for your program, making a big difference in your overall recruiting efforts as you get ready to communicate with your next recruiting class. Want more information on how we can do that for you and your program? Contact Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com.

Asking for the Commitment Without Really Asking for the CommitmentMonday, November 14th, 2011

So there I was, sitting in one of those annonying small little offices on the floor of a car dealership.

An impromtu weekend test drive at the request of my wife had now turned into a three hour odyssey into the depths of everything that is mind-numbing about the typical car buying experience.  But in the middle of it all, a little nugget of recruiting gold:  A great way to ask for a commitment, without actually asking for the commitment.

Towards the end my battle of wits with the parade of dealership personnel that take their turn at trying to get you to overpay for whatever vehicle you happen to be interested in, the dealership general manager walked in.  Impeccably dressed, and disarmingly reassuring, he uttered a phrase that was absolutely brilliant:  “If I call the finance company and they meet your price, can I tell them you’ll do the deal”?

Without thinking, my immediate response was, “Yes, I’d be ready to do it.”

Without thinking, I had just agreed that I would move forward if they could meet the price that I had insisted upon.  In other words, I had given them the “soft commitment” they were looking for, and now they could move forward with the final close.

(This is where you come in, Coach)

“Soft Commitments” are a staple in nearly every type of sale.  It’s also called a “trial close” and it’s an effective way to guage the interest of your prospect without seeming pushy or pressuring them into a decision.  At the car dealership, he simply asked me a question that would reveal my state of mind.  As a recruiter, you can use the same low-pressure strategy to get your prospect to give you a hint regarding where they stand in their decision making process.

What are some ideas that might be appropriate for you to use as a college coach?  They center around asking your prospect intelligent questions that help reveal what they are thinking:

  • Ask questions that use a third person as the reason you need an answer. At the car dealership, it was a conversation that was about to happen with the finance company.  You can use your head coach, your athletic director…someone who holds a degree of power in the decision making process.  Try to make it a person on campus that your prospect hasn’t had the opportunity to meet yet.
  • Ask questions that use a time of year as the reason for urgency. You can use an application deadline, a national signing day, or some other point in the timeline as the reason you need to get an update on where they stand in the process.
  • Ask a question with a “because” in it. It’s a powerful word…powerful “because” it gives your prospect an added reason to give you an answer.  For example, “I’m wondering if you’ll be ready to commit by the end of the week because we got an unexpected call from a really good prospect, and she wants to visit campus next weekend if we still have a roster spot available.”  In our work with other coaches around the country, we find that “because” is a powerful motivator for today’s generation of recruits.

That’s a fairly short list of potential uses of this strategy, and it would be easy to adapt it to your specific situation.  The point is, the strategy is used successfully in professional selling situations around the world.  Your needs are no different than those in the business world:  You want some insight into what your prospect is thinking as they get deeper into the decision making process.

If that describes you, this proven strategy might just get your next prospect to open up.

Do you get the feeling that your recruiting should be doing better at this point in the year?  Our team of experts can help.  We work with large and small programs around the country, and are helping them produce some of their best recruiting classes ever.  Our systematic, research-based approach works.  Want more information?  Email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com and ask for a complete overview on our Total Recruiting Solution program.

 

Strategies for Combating the Too-Close-To-Home ObjectionMonday, August 15th, 2011

In a previous article, we talked about some proven strategies for combating the “too-far-from-home” recruiting objection.

You’ve all heard it before…a recruit you really want, and may have even been the one that initiated the first contact, tells you “no” because they’ve decided that you’re too far from home.

But many coaches also face the opposite side of the coin:

Recruits that decide you’re the wrong choice for them because you’re too close to home.

The biggest hurdle for you behind this objection, according to our research, is the fact that many prospects will have already defined you.  Growing up nearby, they’ve heard people talk about you, made some observations about your campus or your program, and have decided that you’re not “exciting” enough for them as they look forward to the next four years of playing their sport in college.

We’re finding that more and more of this current generation of student-athlete prospects are up for the adventure of going “away” to school.  So, if you’re a coach that is recruiting a prospect that is starting to tell you that you’re too close to home to be a serious consideration, here are a few proven strategies that we’ve seen work with the coaches we work with around the country:

  1. Focus on mom and dad as soon as possible.  Whenever you hear a prospect talk about your college being too close to home, you need to find out how your prospect’s parents are playing into the equation.  Normally, according to our national research, parents are a primary outside factor in the decision making process of a recruit.  The question here is simple: “Why do you want to see your son/daughter play away from home?”  We see parents tending to encourage your prospect to stay close to home whenver possible.  Find out what their view on the matter is.  If you see that there is a conflict within the family (i.e., prospect wants to go out of the area and the parents are hoping he or she stays close to home) then you need to find out which side is going to win out in the end.
  2. Ask about their friends.  One of the big factors in a decision by a recruit to not go far away to play for a program is their friends back home (that includes boyfriends and girlfriends).  When you find that a recruit is not open to staying close to home, you’ll want to ask if they’ll miss their friends, or why they see themselves being o.k. with leaving them behind.  That doesn’t mean you should use friends or family as a “guilt trip” on your recruit.  Rather, you view it as your responsibility to bring up factors that we see playing a major role in the final decision of your recruits so that they are taking into account all possible factors in determining what schools (yours included) they should be considering.
  3. Get them on campus spending time with your team.  Assuming that a big reason your local recruit is not that interested in your program is the fact that they have been on your campus and grown-up nearby hearing the good, the bad and the ugly about the school and your program, you need to get them to take an up-close-and-personal look at what you have to offer as soon as possible.  And, since they have probably already made up their mind about you and the campus, I recommend that you have them spend as much time with your team as possible.  Not you, coach…your team.  The one big thing we see being able to alter their initial assumptions about you and your college is a strong bond with your team.  As we conduct studies with current college athletes as a part of our On-Campus Workshop training sessions for athletic departments, they tell us that their ideal percentage of time they’d like to spend just hanging out informally with your team is 60% of their total time on campus.  If you can achieve that kind of time with your team, you’ve got a shot of creating a bond that overcomes their initial perception of your program.
  4. Make the case that staying close to home gives them a choice.  Make the phrasing your own, but the basic thinking we’ve seen work goes something like this: “If you stay close to home, you get the best of both worlds: You get to be your own person here on our campus, but still get to see your family and friends whenever you want.  Athletes that go far away to school don’t get to have that choice.  They’re stuck on a campus far away from home.”  It’s a valid concept that you should encourage your recruit to consider.

In summary, let me go back to a thought that I started the article with:

This generation of recruit is more open to going away to college and play their sport.  Social media and familiarity with other parts of the country are just two of the reasons we see athletes willing to leave home and compete elsewhere.

In the long run, you’re going to hear more and more of the “too close to home” objections from your recruits.  You can overcome it using these strategies some of the time, but you’ll also want to expand your recruiting base so that you can take advantage of this growing trend.  There are lots of tools and resources we recommend that make this easier than ever.

That being said, when you find yourself recruiting a local athlete you really, really want on your team, these proven strategies just might do the trick in getting them to take a serious second look at you and your program.

A Simple Question That Gets a Better ResponseMonday, August 1st, 2011

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Getting Past Your Prospect’s NoSunday, January 10th, 2010

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7 Things to Ask AFTER You Lose a ProspectMonday, October 26th, 2009

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