You won’t remember Super Bowl XLIX for the touchdown-saving interception by the New England Patriots to beat the Seattle Seahawks.
Hopefully, after this article, you’ll remember it for what you’re about to learn from the a dancing shark. Specifically, the shark on the of left side of the TV screen dancing next to singer Katy Perry during the halftime show, no known famously as “Left Shark”.
Left Shark failed miserably at dancing. And the world reacted.
But something interesting happened after all the laughing stopped. People felt a connection to Left Shark. They accepted Left Shark. Heck, they even embraced the failures and floundering of Left Shark. So much so, that Left Shark is now slated to be a top-selling Halloween costume, has people getting Left Shark tattooed on themselves…in fact, you can even take a love life test based on whether you identify with Left Shark or Right Shark. No doubt about it, Left Shark is riding high.
So here’s the question for college coaches:
Why is everybody talking about Left Shark – who showcased mistake after mistake in front of a worldwide television audience – and nobody is complimenting the perfect routine pulled-off by Right Shark?
Because our society roots for the underdog, if the underdog gives us a good reason for it. When people are honest about their limitations, and show us their imperfections, we respect the honesty. We respect their transparency. And, as a result, we gravitate towards them. Tiger Woods, once an unbeatable pro who had a knack for rubbing people the wrong way, is now a lovable underdog who people are rooting for because they are feeling a little sorry for him.
Which brings us to you, Coach:
Some of you reading this, you’re dealing with your own Left Shark when it comes to your school, your facilities or your program.
- Your locker room was last updated during the Jimmy Carter administration.
- There’s nothing to around campus except shop at Walmart (and that’s a 45 minutes drive away)
- U.S. News ranked your college in lower 10% of every critical category they measure.
- Your last conference championship happened just before they last updated your locker room.
You may have your own specific underdog, lovable loser story to tell. Most coaches can point to something that they would view as a big negative that they consistently have to deal with when it comes to their recruits.
If that’s the case, you have two choices: You can run and hide, or hope that your prospect somehow misses the fact that you aren’t close to a perfect program. Or, you can own it. And, you can define it for them.
Here’s a quick example:
“Your locker room is subpar”. First, understand, that according to our research this is not a consistent reason that your recruits would say no to you. But with that being said, I hear the locker room complaint from coaches often, so I wanted to use it as an example. To turn around this potential objection into an embraceable concept for your recruit, you might try something like this as you’re showing your prospects your locker room:
“You’re going to see other locker rooms at other colleges that might be newer than ours. But that’s not the way to make a smart college decision…it shouldn’t come down to what a locker room looks like. In my experience as a college coach, this team I have here right now is one of the closest-knit I’ve ever had. And I think that’s a LOT more important than how new a locker room is, don’t you?”
Address your Left Shark weakness, own it, justify it, and get your prospect’s agreement.
The truth is, your recruit needs to understand why they should overlook a perceived weakness with you, your program, or your college. But don’t stop there, Coach. Give them something to love about a seemingly negative weakness…give them a chance to embrace it. Show confidence in the way you explain it to them, so that they see you aren’t worried about it.
Your college is in a small town with not much to do? Left Shark it: Agree with them (own it!) and then explain why your team likes their college experience, and doesn’t see anything about the school as a negative.
Your program has a fairly mediocre history of success? Left Shark it: Agree with them (own it!), and tell them what you’ve tried in the past, what hasn’t worked, and what your plan for the future is now – especially how your recruit figures into that plan.
Too many college coaches shy away from confidently and quickly addressing a perceived weakness. What we find is that your recruits know you aren’t perfect, and they’re ready for you to explain those parts of your program to them.
Be the coach that gives a recruit a reason to root for the underdog, and embrace the Left Shark in you.
Need help developing strategies to communicate your weaknesses, as well as your strengths, then consider becoming a client. Dan Tudor and his team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies work with teams from around the country to perfect a strategic, systematic communication approach with their athletes. Click here for details.