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Today’s Social Media, Coaching Sports and 12 Simple Actions To Take NowSunday, March 29th, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Are you using social media? If so, is it helping or hurting your coaching?

You walk, you leave footprints. Some prints are obvious, like through mud. Other prints, like walking on a basketball court, are harder to see. Regardless, you leave prints behind.

We do the same in the digital world when we use social media — and as coaches these digital footprints deserve some serious consideration.

Digital Footprints

You could say I came to social media late in the game — y’know, being an old coach and all. You could say that, but you’d be wrong, because social media is not new. It’s been around for thousands of years.

Socrates speaking in front of a crowd — was using social media. He presented info, and got immediate feedback. Same with FDR in his radio addresses. And through the years there are hundreds of other examples of social media.

Yet today’s version of social media is different — more powerful. At no time in history has it been easier for a coach to broadcast his thoughts out into to the world. And that’s fantastic, because you can do so many things so easily with today’s social media — such as give detailed info as it happens on any athletic event — a luxury until recently reserved for just a few ultra-popular sports. Or within seconds tell your team about a change in practice time.

There’s so much promise for coaches with today’s version of social media, and so much peril.

Over the past years I’ve been brought kicking-and-screaming into today’s version of social media. There’s been a lot to learn and I’d like to share with you 12 tips, ones I think you might find of value.

These aren’t power-user tips, you can find tips like those in many places, like here. Instead these are simple action tips, ones to help keep your social media use from derailing your coaching and your coaching career.

1) The World’s Biggest Megaphone

Once in a blue moon I run an experiment on my team. Here’s how it plays out.

Rowing coaches use a megaphone during practices — mine happens to be a very fancy L-O-U-D one.

I’ll purposely leave the megaphone sitting around at the conclusion of practice. It never fails, one of the rowers will pick it up, turn it on, and bellow something to the unfortunate souls around. It’s always something silly, like an impersonation of a coach, or a scream. Of the dozens of times I’ve done this, not once has an eloquent thought been shared, or an ephinany. It’s always goofy.

But here’s the thing, that same comment shared at a normal volume between friends will have little impact. Yet, that same comment shared at lawn-mower-loudness to dozens of people can annoy, distract, and reflect poorly on the sharer.

Just like today’s social media.

Simple action: Think of what you are sharing and the clan who you are sharing it with. Do they mix well? Don’t bother or annoy them, or they will tune you out. I don’t bother readers of my coaching site, such as you, with info about my stick figure business.

2) Don’t Let That Be You

It’s easy to be someone fake on social media, and if that’s the way your roll, roll on.

However, as a coach, honesty rules. Results, resume, recruiting, or whatever you are using today’s social media for, your mantra should “be honest, or be found out.” Honesty is the best policy.

Simple action: Be truthful in what you blast, and if you make a mistake, fess up. “I made a mistake,” is a powerful word combo.

3) Sharing Isn’t Always A Good Thing

Be cautious of how much you share in respect to personal details. Keep private-information just that – private.

Simple action: Don’t publish personal info such as your home phone number or home address. Be honest but not foolish. Many notables on social media keep their personal life very private. There’s very good reason for that.

4) Share Helpful Stuff

People, especially fellow coaches, are always looking for helpful tidbits and tips. If you are interested in building a following, share some of your secrets.

When I first started this blog three years ago, I only wrote fluffy stuff, with little meat to it. Now I share all my tips, and things I’ve learned, and my readership has grown significantly. Share to be helpful, and in turn you’ll get pleasantly rewarded.

Simple action: Answer someone’s coaching question — lend a digital hand. There are plenty of forums and sites where you can find coaches with questions (LinkedIn and FB being two). Share your tip and then follow up if asked. Don’t expect anything back in return, and see what happens.

5) Lock & Key

There are two types of social media users: those that have been hacked, and those who will be hacked. Believe me, it’s no fun getting hacked (I know — twice), or having Interpol send you a nasty-gram because your blog is being used by hackers to attack banks (I know that also).

Simple action: The following 3 simple actions are common sense but for some reasons are not common practice:

  • Use a password program, such as 1Password to protect your logins. Don’t get lazy on this part. I did, it hurt.
  • Use passcode locks or autolocks on all your devices. Having your six-year old tweet on your account that “dad is a fatso” is humbling, and also avoidable. (And not true at all ; ) )
  • Clear your browser history whenever you use a shared computer. Just do it.

Do those every time you use social media. Those 3 super-simple actions can save you sooo much hassle, and so many headaches.

6) Play Nice, Social Nicer

You are a coach, which means your words carry extra weight, so, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. Make sense, right?

Simple action: Seriously, If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t. Really. Really-really. Especially since …

7) Once you hit send the world owns it.

You create a message and before you hit publish, that message is yours. But things change the milli-second you publish – then the world owns it – to do with it what it wants.

You have no guarantee the message you meant to keep “just between us” will stay that way. Or the forum rant will stay just in that forum. Coaching careers and lives have been changed by a simple social media posting that made it’s way to eyes the sender didn’t expect.

Here’s something else to chew on — in an educational setting, any message published about a student becomes their property. Tweets, emails, texts, whatever — if it has to do about a student, and if the person who publishes it works at that school, the student has a right to see that content.

Meaning, that derogatory content emailed to a fellow coach about the worst athlete on your team is now that athlete’s property, can be seen by him, and could be used by him as he wishes. (Hey, I’m not a lawyer, and have never played one on YouTube, but that is how this was explained to me by smart people in the know, so it’s how I operate.)

Simple action: Before you hit publish, think to yourself, “Who do I NOT want to read this, and if they did, what damage could happen?” You better be okay with the answer, especially since …

8) There Is No Place To Hide

You know every social media blast you send never disappears, right? “Oh, I use SecretBlast, and it’s gone forever once it’s read.” Don’t be foolish. Your digital footprints last forever.

Just because a company says your message will vaporize 30 seconds after it is read (Cyberdust) doesn’t mean the reader can’t record it (screenshot) and now that message is alive. There is NO PLACE UNSEEN DIGITALLY. By now you get my point: your message will be seen by someone you don’t want to see it, your words don’t disappear, and your digital footprint can and will be there to haunt you.

Simple action: Be smart. Be thoughtful. Be kind in all your postings. ALL

9) Stop Swearing

My favorite Sponge Bob episode (yup, I’m that coach who watches SpongeBob) is about SpongeBob and his buddy Patrick and their discovery of sentence-enhancers – those special words people sprinkle into sentences to spice things up. Its a silly story about cussing that really grabs the truth of swearing in social media.

Hey, the words you use in your own-private-world are your business. But on social media your own-private-world does not exist. Meaning, your words are everyone’s business. Cuss words are a sign you are not articulate, they demean, and in public they can offend.

Simple action: Drop the sentence-enhancers that aren’t acceptable. If in doubt what is and isn’t acceptable, ask your boss, grandmother, or better yet, the grandmother of the kid you coach. Then find other ways to make your words POP.

10) User Your Manners, Please

  • Say “please” and “thank you”.
  • Sit up straight.
  • Chew with your mouth closed.

Those are simple little manners that make a difference in social settings. Well, there is *social* in social media, right? So manners, aka etiquette, make a difference.

Here’s two quick examples: don’t hit people in the head with your “selfie stick”, and don’t post a photo of someone else without their permission. There are ton’s more, and the article below can remind you of many of them.

Simple action: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and then up the game, and use even more manners. You will stand out in a good way, and as a coach that’s a good thing.

11) Ghosts In The Machine

Social media magnifies your mistakes, and you will make mistakes. If there is a social blast you regret, see if the provider will remove it. That may/may not work.

Simple action: Have so many positive social media postings that the one-off mistake on your end gets buried under a pile of greatness.

12) Ignore & Snore

Not one coach has ever said they are a better coach because they read the negative social media reviews and comment about them.

Simple action: Stop reading social media posts about you, your team, your school. Just stop.


Actions You Can Take

Okee dokee, 12 actions you can take. Start with one, maybe #4. Then add another. Before you know it, you’ll be a social media expert for all coaches. Now there’s something to aim for.

Oh, and here’s something you might find of interest, if you have other coaches you work with:

What’s The Deal With Snapchat?Saturday, March 8th, 2014

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Now that Snapchat is en route to being NCAA legal, we thought it might be a good idea to generally explain the app so that you can come to your own conclusions. First thing to know, your players and your recruits are snapchatting. Second thing to know, parents are not. That is a key differentiator, but we’ll explain that later.

The general concept behind Snapchat is one person takes a photo/video and shares it with their personal friends. The photo/video is then destroyed once it is viewed. This means instead of taking a photo and sharing it with the world like Twitter or Instagram, or posting a picture to a network of associates (whether close or not) on Facebook, Snapchat is very personal…sometimes too personal i.e. for the same conclusion that many people come too when they first hear about the app. With that said, its popularity is unquestionable and as a Snapchatter myself, I can attest to its habit forming addictiveness. So what’s the deal?

It’s like sending a text message, but you can tell more of a story with the video and it’s not difficult because the app opens directly to the camera. There is also little consequence because the photo/video will be destroyed so your guard is let down, which makes for less formality and a larger variety of content. Parents aren’t on Facebook which maybe is one of the reasons that their kids are…although Facebook did make a $3 billion dollar offer for Snapchat, which was turned down. The question is, should you be on Snapchat?

I don’t know. I think it’s personality driven at this point and some coaches may be able to partake without turning kids off because they see through the attempt to be “hip”. And for those that can, it could potentially be very effective. The constraints of an expiring video will certainly lead entrepreneurial coaches to have a leg up (at least in the early stages)..the same way that early adopters of Twitter did. Hopefully those coaches can keep it PG because if/when they do, it will be really cool to hear about. The argument that athletes want to be contacted via the medium that they already communicate is a strong one. However, Facebook is proving that their is a counter example so that’s what’s up.

Speaking of time saving tools, Front Rush is the best of the best.  If you’re a serious recruiter, this is one tool you don’t want to be without.  Click here for the low-down on this incredible resource used by thousands of coaches around the country.

Coaching Under The Microscope, Your New RealitySaturday, March 8th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday 

Wisdom can come from the strangest places.

I’ve written about finding “coaching smarts” at partiesblogs, and growing up.

Now here’s a new one … bottle caps.

Specifically, the sayings under the tops. For example: Dance As Though No One Is Watching


That quote got me thinking, something clicked, I played with a few words, and came up with this …









There is a sense of deep coaching-truth to that morphed saying, which is becoming more truthful each and every day.

We do need to coach as if everyone is watchingbecause they are watching.

Ninety-nine percent of what you do as a coach, what you say as a coach, how you act as a coach can be, will be, and probably IS ALREADY, recorded, blogged, and archived.

You now coach under a microscope.

Not a telescope, where someone far away is watching, and could easily miss the intracies of what you do.

The days of coaching secrecy, of things said in confidence, of one-on-one conversations are long gone.

You are now on a slide, under a lens, being watched.

And it is not just one scientist (or referee, or compliance officer, or adminstrator) watching you. For good and for bad, everyone is watching.


That’s okay. Ignore me. Happens all the time.

But if you have 3 minutes, go to YouTube and search for *stupid coach*. Thirty-seven million results. I looked through just the first three pages. Numerous examples of a coach, trying to do his/her job, making a mistake, and now becoming an unwilling junior internet star.

That is just the public venue of YouTube. I would guess (don’t know, but would guess) that there are many times more examples on the internet behind the closed doors of some of the other social media platforms.

And it is happening not just during games … but practices, locker rooms, classrooms, parking lots.



So, should you act differently, coach differently?

Damn yes, if you are doing anything wrong or improper. Stop now. Immediately. First, from the POV that it’s wrong. Second, because you will be exposed, called out, on a world-wide platform. Have you forgotten the unfortunate example of Mike Rice?

But face it, if you are doing things wrong/improper/illegal as a coach … you’re not reading this blog anyways.

Damn no, don’t change, if you are trying your best to coach with the best interest of your players, the game, and those around you in mind. In this case, you can’t coach worrying about someone recording your mistakes. Full speed ahead.

And if your mistakes show up, like mine, smile, learn, and move on.


Here’s an example of one of my screw ups.

We had a boat flip at practice. No one was hurt, just enough bruised egos to go around. We were all trying our best and an accident happened. In this case, we were the ones who filmed it, and posted it. Hoping that others might learn from our error.

I’ve had many emails and several phone calls about that screw up. Each one was either, “Oh, that’s happened to me!”, or, “How can we make sure that doesn’t happen to us?”

In this case, putting ourselves under the microscope was worth it.

Is that an iPhone over there, recording you as you read this post? Probably.

And it is also our new reality.

The bottle cap says so.

Dr. Mike Davenport is a longtime college coach and the man behind the popular website CoachingSportsToday.com.  He is a regular contributor to College Recruiting Weekly.

SPECIAL REPORT: How High School Prospects Use Social Media in RecruitingMonday, November 4th, 2013

Social media – including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other popular platforms – is one of the most confusing aspects of modern college recruiting. Coaches want to communicate effectively with their teenage prospects, and social media is one of the primary ways to do that.

However, as many college recruiters are finding out, how they communicate through social media is crucial…it can determine whether or not you form solid communication with that recruit, or make the kind of mis-steps that exclude you from your prospect’s future communication online.

In partnership with NCSA Athletic Recruiting, the researchers at Tudor Collegiate Strategies – lead by Director of Research, Matt Boyles, and nationally recognized recruiting expert Dan Tudor  – conducted in-depth focus group research with more than 2,000 actively recruited student-athletes in the Summer of 2013.  The resulting data provides college coaches with their first-ever comprehensive look at how today’s teenage athlete wants to be communicated with by coaches who are recruiting them, and the specific actions that could drive a wedge between a coach and their prospect.

The .pdf report is free, and can be downloaded here:

How High School Prospects Use Social Media in Recruiting – 2013 National Study

“This is a very comprehensive look at the social media habits of teenage recruits who are communicating with college coaches”, said Dan Tudor, founder of Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  “It can be a valuable roadmap for coaches who are serious about understanding what’s allowed and what’s out of bounds in the minds of their recruits.  Also, the differences between males and females, as well as different sports groups, was fascinating.”

This report is one in a series of research studies and other recruiting guides offered by Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  For an overview of their educational resources, click here.

3 Things To Be O.K. With Before You Talk to Your Next Class of RecruitsMonday, August 19th, 2013

In the good old days of college recruiting, it was all pretty straight-forward.

You wrote a letter, and they’d read it.

You called them on the phone, and they’d talk to you.

You went on a home visit, two parents and a polite, enthusiastic recruit were there to meet with you. (And the parents let their kid do the talking).  That’s about the same time we Liked Ike, and gasoline was 25-cents a gallon.

Today, things are different.

Parents are acting as agents and public relations representatives, recruits mumble on the phone because they’re busying talking with their thumbs on multiple social media networks, and they’ll only read your letters and emails if you’re telling them the things they want to know the way they want it told to them.

Talking to recruits – something many college coaches are preparing to do with a new class of prospects in the not-too-distant future – has become a new and more complicated adventure.  So today, I wanted to give you some advice on how best to launch your new communication plan with your new class of recruits.  You’ll have to pick and choose which ideas apply best to you, the way you talk, and your approach with your prospects, but I think you’ll find this a good beginning to developing a better roadmap to connecting with this generation of teenager (and maybe even their parents who are acting as their kid’s agent):

  • Be o.k. with asking them which social media platforms they use, and if it’s permissible to communicate with them through those networks.  Our expanding research on this topic indicates one very important “rule” that this generation seems to gravitate around:  There are different rules for different kids.  About half of the recruits we are hearing from indicate that they have absolutely no problems with a coach communicating with them through following them or direct-messaging them on social media.  The other half, on the other hand, have big problems with coaches who want to use social media to follow them or communicate with them.  My advice: Ask your prospect what they’d be o.k. with.  Keep it simple, keep it direct, and let them know the reason you’re asking them is because you want to be a coach who wants to communicate with them the way they want to be communicated with (they’ll appreciate it more than you can imagine).
  • Be o.k. with talking to your prospect’s parents.  As we explain in our On-Campus Workshops we conduct for athletic departments and coaches, one of the big differences between this generation of recruits compared to past generations of recruits is this: Not only do they want their parents to be involved in the recruiting process, they expect their parents to be involved in the recruit process.  While this is a frustrating fact for coaches, it’s a fact nonetheless.  So, my advice is probably what you’d expect: You should be o.k. with talking to your prospect’s parents in place of your prospect.  Not every time, all the time…but most of the time.  They’ll usually accurately speak for their son or daughter, and actually give you more intelligent, useful information.
  • Be o.k. with texting instead of talking.  In an effort to make you hate where this conversation is going even more than you did after reading the first two pieces of advice, I present the pièce de résistance:  Most prospects would probably prefer to “talk” to you via text messaging instead of talking on the phone with you.  I think you shouldn’t make too much of this inconvenient new fact of life; I guess the question I’d ask is, would you rather have a rather one-way six minute conversation on the phone where you do 90% of the talking?  Or, would you want to have an information-rich exchange over an hour by text message?  I know which one will carry the recruiting process forward (and so do you).  If you sense that a prospect is not going to be comfortable talking on the phone, ask them if they’d rather have text message sessions with you.  It’s not a sign that they are deficient or poor communicators, it’s a sign that they’ve grown up using different methods of communication.  Don’t over-think it, Coach.

Those are the three most important beginning communication strategies as you attempt to deepen your connection with this next class of prospects.  Just make sure you’re playing by their rules as much as you, and not necessarily yours.

Our clients and premium members get even more advice and direction on an ongoing basis.  Want to have access to one-on-one expertise as you approach this next recruiting class?  We’re ready to help.  Click on the links for all the details, or email Dan directly at dan@dantudor.com.  

Viral Videos, Social Media and the Lesson for College RecruitersMonday, June 25th, 2012

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How Facebook’s Timeline Can Impact YOUR RecruitingMonday, January 30th, 2012

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Recently, Facebook went live with their new Facebook Timeline.

This is a total redesign of your own personal page (the page that people see when they click your name). Timeline essentially gives you more control over what people see, and how they see it.

We want to go into a bit of detail so that you are aware of what your recruits will see, especially because Timeline has gone from an opt-in to a complete roll-out, which means it affects all users.

From a distance, Timeline is just a running history of your photos, posts, events, apps, songs, and anything else typically associated with Facebook. However, due to its granularity, the first thing you should do is go through and remove anything and everything that does not put you and your program in a good light. This is a common sense best practice but because Timeline goes back to the beginning of your Facebook existence, its worth making sure nothing exists that would make your face red.

Secondly, you should go through and highlight anything that does make you look good and makes your Timeline more compelling. For example, a great photo of the University or team is worth “starring” which will make it appear widescreen and larger. People love photos and starring good ones will enhance your Timeline visually and make it more engaging.

Another item you may want to star would be great events in your history. Teams hang banners when championships are won so use this opportunity to make your own “banners” standout while people scroll through your page. One other thing to take note is that Timeline is going to group things together. An example would be if you have “liked” a lot of things in a particular time frame…Facebook will keep those items in a close proximity.

Now that you have most of the content set-up, the next thing to do is choose a Timeline picture. To clarify, you have your profile pic, but Timeline starts off with a “header” picture that you can choose as well. This choice is really important because its the first thing a visitor sees when they come to your page. Its a good idea to play around with different images and test through your friends to see which one they like most. This image is a good opportunity to show off your personality or the character of your University or team.

Lastly, go through your Timeline from start to finish and get into the habit of checking it with some consistency. Remember, more third party apps will have access to it so you should just always be aware of whats being posted on your site.

Timeline is an opportunity for you to showcase your website to an entirely new audience, Coach.  Take advantage of it!

Sean Devlin is the technical brains behind the best selling web management tool for college coaches, and a trusted advisor for recruiters looking to use technology to become more effective recruiters.  We highly recommend Front Rush for any coaching staff who is looking for an organizational web tool to track their prospects and creatively brand their programs.

The New Facebook Tool Every College Coach Should Know AboutSunday, September 18th, 2011

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Six Surprising Ways YOU Can Be More Interesting to Your RecruitsMonday, September 12th, 2011

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Is Google+ the Next Big Social Media Recruiting Tool for Coaches?Monday, July 18th, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Google+ has been the recent topic of many conversations, news articles and blogs so we wanted to chime in and give you an overview of what it is, what it can do and what it means for you as a college coach.

Google+ is Google’s 3rd…4th…5th (lost count) attempt at building a social network application, like Facebook or Twitter. On the surface it is sort of a mix between those two popular networks, in that you can add friends, post messages, “follow”, gather content, and more. It allows you to add people to “circles” (Google’s equivalent to Facebook “groups”) and add people that you are not even “friends” with…so sort of like the Twitter “follow” model. It also has some unique features of its own like “hanging out” which means you can have a video conference with multiple people at once. However, if you dig deeper Google+ is not Facebook…its very, very different.

Google put a lot of engineering muscle into this project and has been releasing new features and updates on a daily basis. Its only going to be a matter of time before its true potential shows, in my opinion.  At some point, Google+ will be fully integrated with your Gmail, Google Docs, Google apps, Android devices, and more.  So imagine building a document in Google docs and then just sharing it with one of your circles. Or being logged into Google+ and having a notification pop-up right in your feed that alerts you that changes have been made to a spreadsheet that you have been sharing. Or picture being able to sort your inbox by your circles and being able to reply to all at once instead of having to go in manually like you do now. These ideas are just top-of-head ideas that I came up with when writing this article…the reality is that the integration potential is soooo much more.

So as a coach and a recruiter, should you care?

Well, as a college coach who is staying on top of technology trends to use them to your advantage, the answer is absolutely.  However, will you even remember Google+ in 6 months? That is still yet to be determined. Google has bombed with its previous attempts in the social world but I must admit, this product has legs and feels different.

So, how can you use Google+ to benefit you right now as a college recruiter?  Well, you first need to wait until more people get on it…specifically, recruits.  The problem is that most early adopters of Google+ are also Gmail users. The issue there is that fewer and fewer recruits are using email, so its uncertain when and if they will get on board. In addition, most of the early adopters tend to be males which means coaches of women’s sports will have to wait even longer. The nicety is that by the time recruits are on the system, a lot of major functionally and bug fixes will have been released; enough functionality to help clarify its true use case in the recruiting world.

The current state of Google+ is that its still in “invite” mode which means that you have to be invited to join.  As these things go, the main topic of conversation within Google+ right now is about Google+.  However that conversation is slowly starting to shift as 20+ million users are expected as of the weekend preceding this article (late July, 2011).  The more users the system has, the more value each individual user gets out of it. An Android version currently exists, and and iPhone app is expectedly shortly.

So hopefully that helps clarify Google+ for you. We have invites to it internally, so let us know if you need one…we’ll get you on the list and let you test it for yourself.

Front Rush is the nation’s leader when it comes to technology expertise for college coaches and their athletic departments.  Their cornerstone service is their revolutionary web-based recruiting contact management tool.  If you’re one of the handful of coaches who don’t yet know about this incredible recruiting tool, click here.

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