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How Do I Deal With A Screaming, Disruptive Parent?Sunday, July 12th, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I still hear the voice of my first screaming parent.

Even though she was bellowing to support the team it was grating — like fingernails-down-the-chalkboard. Yelling little tips to me (“Yo, Coach, call a time out!”) that were, well, her way of being helpful.

After the game I thanked her for her enthusiasm, and she blushed, “Well, I do get carried away sometimes.” I left it at that, knowing her screaming wasn’t meant in a bad way.

However, there are parents who cross the line — they go demeaning. Negative. Their screams are hurtful. And disruptive.

Human voices elevate for one reason — to get heard. Could be raising an alarm (“Ma, there’s a gator in the chicken coop again!”) or to make a point (“I said, ‘Clean up your room!’”). But sometimes common sense abandons parents and they becoming screaming-crazy-people.

When you are confronted by a screamer-parent (a parent using his voice in a loud-and-negative manner) you need to ask this question, “Why is this person screaming (at me)?” If it is supporting, that’s one thing. However …

However …

Sports bring out the best, and worst in parents, and a very small percentage of parents (my guess, about .02%) go nuts & negative. It is a hazard in coaching — these screamer-parents — and if you haven’t dealt with it yet, you will. So how DO you deal? A few suggestions.

Ignore ‘em

When a parent lets you know, in no uncertain terms, that you suck, a soap-dish could do better, and you should just leave town now, THE best action to take may be to ignore them.

Bullies pick on people to get a reaction, and if you react, you might be giving a screamer just want they want. Not acknowledging the insults and noise might help them fade away.

Yet if the screaming gets disruptive — starts affecting your job, or the athletes, or your sanity — ignoring might be the wrong action. This is a very fine, and tough, line to see. Guidance from others, your mentor possible, might be helpful. But be careful of doing this …

Responding in the heat of the moment

Don’t, I repeat, don’t lower yourself to the screamer’s level. I know you’ve heard “two wrongs don’t make a right.” We’ll, a different version is “two screamers make a viral video.” I saw a coach fall into this trap.

Football game. Coach harassed by a screaming parent. Thirty minutes into it, he’d had enough. He spun. Walked to the stand. Pointed at said parent. Let him have it.

Bad choice.

First, the phone cameras whipped right out. Second, the entire crowd rose to the screamer’s defense. The football game turned from being about the kids playing football, to “how many bozos could fit on The Screaming Bus.”

Here’s what another coach tried …

Upping The Ante

A buddy was in his office, next to mine. Both our doors were open. His phone rang, he answered it and within 3 minutes the volume got LOUD. WICKED LOUD. The last thing I heard before he slammed down the phone was, “I LIVE AT 18 MAIN STREET. COME BY AT 6 PM TONIGHT, AND BRING AN AMBULANCE CAUSE I’M GOING TO BEAT THE #$%@ OUT OF YOU.

A screaming parent had got under his skin.

I get it. You pour your heart-and-soul into something, trying to build a winning program. Or maybe just trying to get through a tough season, and then you start catching flack from THIS PERSON. It’s easy to lose your cool. But …

You can’t.

You are the one who stays cool. Calm. Collected. You don’t get a screamer to backdown or stop by out-screaming him. It just doesn’t work.

But this might …

Tell on them

No one likes a tattletale. Yeah, well forget that.

If the screaming is abusive, demeaning, destructive, and its during a game, tell an official.

Listen, they catch it worse than we coaches ever do, but every so often a sympathetic official might just do what this ref did. Refreshing .

If no resolution happens during a contest, when you get a chance, tell your boss. No organizer or athletic director wants his coach/players to be abused. They might have a few cards they can play.

Speaking of cards to play, here’s a hand you may, or may not, want to play …

Use their kid as leverage

This one’s tricky, but I have seen it done. The coach will pull the athlete, who is the son or daughter of the screamer-parent, into the office. And then Coach lays it on the line.

If your parent doesn’t cool it, then you’re cut!

Harsh? Yeah.

Does it work? Maybe.

Worth considering? I’d let your conscious decide that one.

And here’s another option a reasonable and prudent person wouldn’t consider. However, we are talking about sports here …

Go Nuclear

I don’t know of any coach who has done this but there is a certain devilish appeal to it.

First, resign your coaching spot — because you are sure to get fired for what you’re about to do.

Next go to screamer’s place of employment. Then wait until he’s engrossed in his job. When he is, start screaming at him. Give him what he gave you.

A bank teller who spent Saturday afternoon screaming at you won’t get much joy from you coming to his window and returning the favor.

Again, you’ll have some heavy explaining to do, and I don’t recommend it, but …

That’s a wrap

Parents are special critters. And parents of athletes can super special. Timid librarian-parents turn into face-painted crazies, while Olympic-level-athlete-parents turn into quiet, detached observers. You never know what you’re going to get, but that’s OK, because you’re coach and you can handle anything.

Keep on reading:



Building A Relationship With Your Prospect’s ParentsMonday, December 8th, 2014

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Talking to Parents of Your Freshmen and Sophomore RecruitsMonday, November 10th, 2014

It’s not rocket science.

In today’s recruiting culture, which see’s contact between college coaches and teenage prospects happening earlier and earlier, talking to that recruit’s parents is an absolute must.

Put yourself at your prospect’s kitchen table for a moment, Coach:

As a parent, would you let your 15-year old Sophomore daughter call a coach that’s requested contact and allow her to take anything beyond the very basic first steps of communication with him or her?  Of course not.  As a parent, would you let your Freshman son commit to a campus visit during your family’s upcoming Summer vacation using his own judgement and discretion?  Hardly.

Not without talking to you, as their parent, first.

So you’ll understand why I find it surprising that many talented, smart college recruiters spend a majority of their time, energy and effort on forming a relationship with, and trying to get commitments from, a 14 or 15-year old child during the recruiting process without talking to the parents first.

Easier said than done, I know.  But as a serious recruiter trying to gain the trust of a family during the recruiting process, not making the same efforts to contact and develop the beginnings of a relationship with the parents as you do with a recruit is nuts,

In some of our latest research, we find that 88% of recent incoming college Freshmen say that their parents had substantial influence in their final decision making process, and more than 90% played a role in determining which colleges would make the family’s final “cut”, and which one’s should be dropped from consideration.

And some coaches want to avoid talking to parents…

It has to happen.  And, it needs to happen as early as possible, Coach.  Which means your first opportunity to talk to the parent of your recruit is going to probably going to take place over the phone.

To help get the ball rolling with the parents of your Freshmen and Sophomore recruits, I wanted to suggest several questions and talking points that we’ve seen work well recently.  Use these to establish credibility, get them to open up, and determine just  where you stand when it comes to getting them to take a serious look at you and your program:

  • “What are you trying to get out of this whole recruiting process?”
  • “Who in the family is taking the lead in figuring out who to take a serious look at?”
  • “Why do you see us as being a potential good fit for your son/daughter?”
  • “Where could you see her/him being happiest at this point in the process?”
  • “What are you trying to get your son/daughter to focus on at this point?”
  • “With all the horror stories of coaches out there doing things the wrong way, what have you told your son/daughter to watch out for as they talk to coaches?”
  • “Have you crossed any specific schools, or types of schools, off your list at this point?”
  • “What’s your biggest fear as a parent as you start to talk to coaches and look at colleges?”
  • “What are the first two big questions that I could answer for you at this point?”
  • “Have you and your family talked about a timeline for when you would see her/him making a final choice?”
  • “Is there anything about our program and our college that you know you like?”
  • “Who else are you talking to now that you could see being really interested in down the stretch?”

If these questions sound like things you’d ask a recruit, that’s not an accident.  We find that most parents see themselves as equal partners in the decision making process, along with their son or daughter.  Furthermore, most kids not only want that to be the case, but expect that to be the case.

Want more motivation to engage parents of your young recruits earlier instead of later? Most college athletes that commit to one of our client’s programs open-up and describe their parents not letting them visit colleges where the coach had not yet talked to them yet.  That’s not universal, as some parents will intentionally stay quiet during the process in order to improve their son or daughter’s chances at getting recruited, but the majority (about 7 out of 10) will not fund an unofficial visit to a campus where the coach hasn’t first had conversations with them about their son or daughter.

Your goal in talking to the parents is simple, but important: Establish the beginnings of a relationship, and let them reveal things to you instead of you selling things to them.  If you do that, you’re going to notice an immediate change in the interest level of your recruit and their family.

The time is now to talk to the parents.

Want to dig deeper into the topic of recruiting the parents of your prospects?  Click here for a catalog of our past articles on the topic.  Some of them are reserved for our Clients and Premium Members, so to get access to that expanded section of the website click here.

Dads Cry TooMonday, August 18th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I cried for 20 minutes today.

I’m an alpha-type guy. I’m used to compartmentalizing and burying my emotions. But not today. Today was different. It was check-in-day.

I dropped my oldest off at college — to start his freshman year.

I’m not supposed to cry, my wife is. Sure, I get that.

And there’s a lot of misery in the World right now, so depositing my kid at a good college to get a good education is supposed to be a happy event. Fine and dandy.

But here’s the thing, I don’t care. I’ll miss him. Really miss him.

Here’s the bigger thing — the important thing — the thing YOU should know as a college coach — I’m NOT the only Dad who cries. There are others — lots.

We go to the car while mom gets the dorm-room ready. We cry in the parking lot.

“It’s allergy season,” I heard one guy say today. Another, wiping his eyes, broadcasted, “Got stupid sunscreen in my eyes, again.”

Me? I told one guy my eyes were bloodshot from drinking. I haven’t had a drink in 30 years.

So, why should you care?

Because the person who recruited weeping-Dad’s child might be missing an opportunity to shine.

What if a coach wandered around the parking lot with a box of tissues? Dispensing as needed. Patting a few dads on the back. I can think of worse duties.

And if check-in-day has come and gone? Give the recruit 10 postcards, and make sure he mails one each day to his Dad. Jeez, I haven’t gotten a postcard in years, and never one from him. That’d be cool.

Y’know, if the phone rang right now, and one of my son’s new coaches called saying, “Hey Dad, no worries, we’ll take good care of him,” that would be nice.

Better yet, if the coach called and said, “Hey Dad, I know you’re tight with your son. Thanks for trusting me, I will make sure he keeps you updated, emailing/texting/whatever-social-you-like-connecting each day”, that would rock my world.

Or set up a Dad’s section on your team’s website. Dads will like that, even if it is something silly.

If any of those happened I would be blasting all my friends, “Those coaches got it together, your son should go there”.

Some people say college is a time for parents to let go, cut those strings.  Wander around the parking lot on check-in-day and see how well that message goes with the Dads.

And bring tissues, they will get used.

(Oh yeah … This also applies to high school, middle school, and pee wee sports. Trust me, I’ve been there too.  It does.)

If Cat Food is Really for People, is Recruiting Really for…?Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Best selling author Seth Godin put forward an interesting point that I think has application for college coaches and recruiters:

“Cat food is for people.

So is this bag of gluten-free, kale, peanutty dog treats.

And the first birthday party for the kid down the street is for her parents, not her. And the same is true for most gifts we give people (they’re for us, and how we feel giving them, not for the recipient, not really). And many benefits the company offers to its employees…

It’s easy to imagine that the giver is focused on the recipient at all times. But, more often than not, the way the gift makes us feel to give is at least as important as how it makes the other person (or pet, or infant) feel to receive it.

P.S.  If you think cat food is for cats, how come it doesn’t come in mouse flavor?”

So, how does all of this translate into relevance for serious college coaches in the midst of selling their programs and telling their stories to a much more complicated group of potential prospects?  No, it has nothing to do with cat food (or a birthday party for the kid down the street).

I think it has everything to do with the parents of many of your recruits.

The school that their son or daughter chooses, the program that they will compete for, and what you’re going to be offering them:  All of that, according to our research, is vitally important to a majority of the parents of the recruits that you are focusing on.

  • About 6 out of 10 parents have strong feelings about the level of the program that their son or daughter competes in.
  • Just over 7 out of 10 parents tell us that they felt it was personally important to make sure that the “brand” of the college or university their son or daughter chose was an important factor in their final decision.
  • 8.5 out of 10 parents said they felt “justified” with their son or daughter’s choice of school and sports program in regards to their investment of time and money into their child’s sports career leading up to competing at the college level.

Let me give you another scenario that I know plays out time and time again all over the country:  The parents of your recruit is sitting in the stands at their local Friday night football game back in their community.  They’re wearing the college gear of the school that their son or daughter competes for.  Inevitably, their friends ask them about their child’s college experience, and why they decided to go there.  In their answer, they’ll most certainly lean on the facts about how prestigious the school is, why it is the perfect fit when it comes to their child’s major, and probably jump at the chance to talk about how much money the college is giving them to play their sport at the school (yes, even the parents of Division III kids that are getting no athletic money).

In reading those three key statistics, and accepting that the scenario I described above is true (it’s based on hundreds of stories that we hear every year when we conduct our popular On-Campus Workshops for athletic departments), let’s all agree on one key conclusion:

Just like cat food is for people, and the big birthday party down the street is for the parents of the kid blowing out the candles, where their son or daughter chooses to compete in college is really important for how the parents end up feeling about themselves as, well…parents.

(This is where you come in, Coach).

What are you going to do about it?  You have an overwhelming number of parents who feel and act this way during the recruiting process, and it no doubt changes the way they look at your school, you as a coach, your program, and what you’re able to give them (I mean, give their son or daughter)

You can scan our blog library for specific strategies and ideas that you think might fit you and your program, but here are four key questions I think every staff needs to answer as you head into your next recruiting year:

  • How soon are you incorporating a conversation with the parents of your recruit into your recruiting plan?
  • What percentage of messaging are you dedicating to recruiting the parents of your prospects?
  • What kind of questions are you asking parents to get them to reveal what’s important to them as they help their son or daughter make their final decision?
  • Even if you feel you can’t beat a competitor with what you’re offering a recruit, how are you presenting it to make them feel justified in choosing you?

That last one is a biggie.  Do dogs really love kale peanutty flavored dog treats?  Who knows.  But a significant enough of buyers of dog treats obviously do, and isn’t that the most important fact if you’re a marketer?

I firmly believe that how you as a coach define your program, tell your story, and explain to the influential decision-driving parents of your best prospects what they should think about different aspects of your college, program and offer will completely drive the decision making process.

The problem is, most college coaches aren’t doing it.  Which is why most college coaches experience completely random recruiting results, don’t know what the parents of their recruits are really thinking, and get increasing frustrated at the power they have over the final decision of their sons and daughters.

Go back to those four questions, Coach.  How would you answer them?

Once you have the answers, and you feel you might want some expert help, email dan@dantudor.com and ask about the Total Recruiting Solution plan we construct for coaching staffs.  The unique plans we develop can help tell the right story to your recruits and their parents, and make recruiting a lot more predictable.

CEO Or Silent Partner – What Kind Of Parents Are You Dealing With?Monday, March 24th, 2014

by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator

When I was recruiting at the collegiate level I always asked my recruits, “How involved do you think your parents want to be in this process?” The answer to that question was always intriguing but never differed much. The general answer was either “They don’t care where I go they just want me to be happy” or “This is really their decision because they’re paying for it”.

Here is what I came to realize, parents are always involved and usually a big part of the decision making process! Then I looked at a decade of research at Tudor Collegiate Strategies and what I thought – was confirmed.

In our research of college prospects a staggering 91.3% said the opinion of their parents was very important. In other words, more than 90% of the athletes you are talking to, regardless of what they tell you, will be getting direction or decision making information from mom or dad. The big question is, what type of recruiting plan do you have for the parents?

When you come across the CEO parent you will feel like your answer is given to you. They will call you, they will ask for information, they will request a follow-up from you, and you will have a very clear path of communication. You will need to connect with these types of parents because they will be very business like in their participation and need to feel comfortable and confident in recommending that their child go to your college. The flip side is that these types of parents are ALWAYS negotiating on behalf of their child with every other college they can find. As long as you can keep honest and open lines of communication, these types of parents don’t often blind side you.

The Silent Partner parent is a little more tricky. They will stay in the shadows watching the process, they will guide but not lead the direction their child is going, and when asked for input they will often defer in the early stages. As the choices start to get narrowed down the Silent Partner parent starts to get more involved, is out of the shadows and standing in the corner. At this point they have formed opinions on coaches, schools and finances. They have an idea of what’s best for their child and want them to feel like they are making the decision themselves, while in reality it is the parent’s choice.

In a recent conversation with a football coach at a DII University we explained that when all things are equal the parents will generally make the choice based on finances. SO – the goal is to make sure that when the prospect and the parents are reviewing and comparing colleges they don’t feel like everything is equal, they have to feel like you are  different and a better fit.

You need to build relationships with the parents that are just as strong and emotionally connected as you do with your recruits. It is critical that you deliberately develop recruiting plans for parents. You need to schedule calls, send emails and probe the parents regarding their wants and needs for their child, because the parents need to be sold on you, your program and the institution just like the athlete!

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.


The Importance of “Passion” vs. “Pressure” in RecruitingMonday, October 10th, 2011

There’s a big, big difference.

And quite honestly, most college coaches get it wrong.

When you’re trying to close a recruit, and get them to commit to your program, one of the worst things to do is to give them the feeling that they are being “pressured” and locked into a life-changing decision.  Pressure might lead to an initial commitment, but in the long run that athlete is going to be a strong candidate for transferring or talking negatively about the way he or she was recruited.

In my opinion, after interviewing hundreds of current college prospects on how they made their decision in committing to a program, pressuring an athlete is bad.

Passion, on the other hand, is good.  Very, very good.

If you demonstrate passion to your prospect, it’s very likely you’ll achieve the same effects as you would hope to achieve by pressuring them: Excitement about your program, a strong reason for committing to you and your college, and a faster commitment.

Very few college recruiters, unfortunately, don’t do the passion part very well.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, and to show you what a big difference there is between the two, let me give you a few contrasting examples of “passion” versus “pressure” when recruiting your athlete:

Passion is when you tell your recruit why you like him, and what value you see him having in your program.  Pressure is when you matter-of-factly tell your recruit who else you’re recruiting at his position, and what he’s going to lose if he doesn’t make a fast decision.

Passion is when you tell them that you’ve decided you want her to play for you, and they officially ask her if she’s ready to commit because you are really excited about her future in your program.  Pressure is when you give her a 48-hour deadline after her campus visit to make her decision, or else you’ll yank the offer and give it to the next girl on your list.

Passion is when you smile and sit forward in your chair when you’re talking to your prospect.  Pressure is when you lean back, look at your cell phone every two minutes, and seem like you’re ready to walk your prospect over to admissions so they can start their exciting two hour PowerPoint presentation with the assistant to the assistant Director of Financial Aid so you can get back to work.

Passion is an impromptu visit to the office of a coach of another sport on your campus to introduce you to your recruit on campus so that they see the opportunity is with an athletic department family, and not just their sport.  Pressure is sitting with your prospect cooped-up in your office talking only about your sport.

Passion is taking a blank sheet of paper, sitting next to your recruit, and explaining to her what you see as the plan for her after she commits, and what the next twelve months look like for her when she joins your program.  Pressure is you talking about how she’ll have to pay her dues and wait her turn if she decides she wants to play for you.  (Note: Yes, that might be an honest assessment of their chances in your program.  But most recruits want to hear about what they need to do to beat out that Senior returning starter…because most of them think they can, and they’d like to see that you’re on board with that dream, too).

Passion is getting him spend time with the Freshmen and Sophomores on your team and letting them sell him on coming there.  Pressure is putting them with a 23-year old redshirt Senior who they have nothing in common with, and sending the two of them off to lunch together for two hours (true story example there…one of the more awkward observation sessions we did for one of our clients when we were on campus).

Passion is involving her parents in all aspects of the recruiting message, which is what most kids want according to our research.  Pressure is what she feels back at home when you don’t do that, and she wants to go to your program but doesn’t feel like she can because mom and dad never really got to know you as well as your conference rival that she’s going to settle on.

Passion is consistently keeping in touch with her, showing him that you are in it for the long haul and don’t take them for granted.  Pressure is what they feel when they try to figure out why you haven’t talked to them lately (they assume you might not be as interested in them as you once were, and begin to look for coaches who they think will be more interested).

That’s a short list, but an important list.

The big question now is: What are you going to do with this information, and how will it change the way you recruit this current class of prospects?

(No pressure).


There is still time to team up with Tudor Collegiate Strategies and let us map out a successful recruiting message and strategy for this year’s class.  We’ll bring a research-based methodology to your program, and help you create the best message possible for your prospects.  It’s working wonders for college coaches around the country, and we can do the same for your program.  Email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor for a complete overview of what we do, and how we do it.

The Right Way to Talk About Money with Your Prospects (and Their Parents)Sunday, September 18th, 2011

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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.

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