by Chris Mateer, Front Rush
The recruitment process requires a fine balance between maintaining contact and giving the student-athlete room to breathe. As a coach, the last thing you want is to go too long without maintaining some form of contact. At the same time, too many calls can become intrusive, especially considering a senior-athlete’s busy schedule. Luckily, the rise of email, text, social media, and, yes, even Snapchat, have given both coaches and student athletes more flexibility than ever in how they go about the recruitment process. These relatively new forms communication leave coaches with countless decisions to make regarding how to contact a recruit. We’ll stick to addressing just one of these decisions today though: when do you pick up the phone and make the call and when do you simply press “send”?
When to Call
It seems growingly unpopular among high schoolers to make phone calls to anyone who isn’t a family member above the age of 40 on a day that isn’t a birthday. Simply put, talking on the phone isn’t convenient or efficient. It requires making conversation and enduring that occasional awkward moment when you both start talking at once and feel like you interrupted each other. Despite this, almost every coach considers making calls a vital component of the recruitment process.
Calls let your prospects know, for however long you’re on the phone, your attention is on them. For a high schooler, the importance of this cannot be understated. In some regards, the inconvenience of a phone call are its strengths. A call lets your recruits know that you thought of them and took the time out of your evening to make that call.
Calls also give a great glimpse into you as a person and as a coach. Use this time to laugh, ask questions, and get to really know your recruits. Among all the spreadsheets, stats, and online profiles, you’re still recruiting a person.
When to Text
Voicemail is mostly a thing of the past. Leaving a message is a nice formality, but the response rate is not great. If the recruit doesn’t answer the phone, send a text. More often than not, this results in an almost immediate response. Usually (and hopefully) it will be a quick “Hey Coach! Sorry I missed your call, out at Chipotle with the team. Can you talk tomorrow?”. Boom, mission accomplished. Other times, you’ll be less lucky and that response will give you a quick heads up that your time is best spent elsewhere. Some recruits will just ignore calls, but will feel more comfortable letting you know they’re not interested or committed elsewhere via text. Don’t worry, there are other fish in the sea and this will save a lot of time and effort in the long run.
Beyond following up on a missed call, texts can provide that opportunity to strike the sweet spot between maintaining contact and not overwhelming your recruits. Sending over a quick check-in between calls asking how school is going, how their offseason conditioning has progressed, or how a low-key competition went is the perfect time to check in with your recruits. These texts will provide good talking points when making that next call and let your recruits know you’re still interested.