College coaches have an increasing amount of freedom to recruit earlier, more creatively and more aggressively than every before.
But just because there are an increasing number of things a coach can do, it doesn’t mean that they should do them.
And therein lies the problem:
So many coaches we encounter as we first start work with them on a close, one-on-one basis sometimes show a lack of discretion when it comes to what they send to a recruit. The problem with that is how this generation of recruits take-in information. With social media, for example, our latest research (click here for the free download) shows that there are a variety of ways they want to interact with coaches, but it depends on the individual social media site. If a coach carelessly uses one rule and applies them to different social media platforms, they risk alienating their recruit. I’ve seen it happen, and you’ve seen it happen.
Since we’re entering the time of year when coaches don’t want to make a mistake, I wanted to outline three things we recommend coaches avoid doing, even though they have complete freedom to do them:
Be careful with social media. Since I just used that as an example of a common mistake area for college coaches, let me give you an example of an error that can be made with this continually evolving medium. The NCAA allowed coaches to use the social media tool, SnapChat. Somehow, the governing body that sets the recruiting boundaries for college coaches felt it was appropriate to let coaches send messages that quickly are erased forever to recruits, who can do the same in their replies to coaches (what could go wrong with that scenario?) Is it popular with high school and college-age kids? Yes. Does that mean an adult who is not their friend should use ShapChat to communicate with them? No. No. A thousand times no. Per the social media research we referenced earlier, the vast majority of today’s teens don’t want their social media world invaded by coaches – especially at the very start of the process. Please don’t make the mistake of believing that just because your teenage prospects are ShapChatting, Facebooking, and Tweeting on a minute-by-minute basis that they want you to be included in that small, tight-knit group of peers that make up their social media audience.
Don’t shrink away as they get closer to their decision. College coaches tend to assume that because a prospect has been to campus, and because they’ve received a short series of letters or emails, or because you’ve already talked to them on the phone, a prospect and their parents don’t need to hear from you down the stretch. I think this is actually due to a coach feeling nervous about what their decision will be, and the tendency of a coach in that position is to shrink away and hope they don’t jinx a positive final decision. Most of the time, that’s an incorrect tactic: Your prospect needs you to talk to them, ask them how they are making their final decision, and collaborate with them on the steps they’ll take as they make a final decision. The other reason that makes it a smart move for a coach? You’ll find out earlier if a recruit is going to tell you “no”. That’s an important piece of information that any savvy recruiter should want to know.
Watch out for their coach’s influence. More and more often, a high school or club coach is guiding decisions throughout the process. The problem? Many college coaches are making the choice to ignore their recruit’s coach, feeling like they don’t need to recruit them as they recruit the prospect. Coaches who have that outlook are incorrect: Coaches are more influential than ever, and for 98% of the coaches who aren’t a part of a legendary program that just won it’s third straight national championship, justification for why you and your program are best is absolutely needed. And, it needs to be done throughout the process. True, you can choose to ignore this vital group of influencers, but you do so at your own risk (especially as it gets later in the process).
That’s not an exhaustive list, of course, but they are three areas of choice that a coach has that will affect their chances of signing upper-tier prospects. But not over-stepping their boundaries in the world of social media, not becoming silent in the final stages of a prospect’s decision, and not ignoring your recruit’s coach, are all ways you can immediately improve the odds of bringing in those difference-maker recruits in this next class.
The question is: Will you choose to not do something you have the freedom to do?
Attending this June’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference is a must for any serious college coach who wants a more expanded list of what’s working, and what’s not, when it comes to cutting-edge techniques that make a difference in their recruiting results. It’s a can’t-miss event! Click here for all the details!