This is the time of year when college coaches begin to lose a little hope.
That robust list of new recruits has received their first one or two contacts from a coaching staff, but things have fizzled…they haven’t replied. And that means coaches are trying to figure out what direction to take:
Continue to hope they eventually come around and the flame reignites, or abandon all hope and cross them off the list.
The later option is tempting, right? Save your energy and attention for other recruits who have shown interest. And besides, you don’t want to recruit someone who ‘doesn’t want to play for you’ (at least that’s what we’ve heard a lot of coaches talk about when it comes to recruits who aren’t contacting them right away).
Before you pull the rip cord and opt for that approach, let me outline a few ideas that we’ve seen work for coaching staffs who we get to serve as clients.
First, understand that in your recruit’s mind, they may not be feeling ready to reply back simply because they don’t know your program’s story. In other words, the program’s brand isn’t developed enough to be known or valued enough to warrant the risk of reply to you – and potentially committing them to a series of conversations they aren’t sure they want to have. That’s not their fault, and it may not even be your’s…it’s just a fact of life that you need to account for in your recruiting efforts: It may take several weeks, or even months, to gain that first contact back.
So what can you do to increase your chances for igniting a new relationship that hasn’t materialized so far?
- Reach out to the parents. They’re either going to be unaware of your previous attempts at contact, or will be able to offer you a good deal of insights into why a lack of interest exists. Of all the alternative strategies we recommend to the coaches we work with, this is one of the most effective.
- Reach out to the prospect’s coach. They don’t always have the same insights as parents, but they’re the next best thing. Tell them that you’ve tried reaching out to their athlete, but with no luck. Ask them to tell the athlete – or the athlete’s parents – that you have an opportunity you want to talk about with them, but you aren’t getting any replies.
- With those previous two strategies being the most common, let me offer-up another one that is a little more creative: Write a very personal sounding, non-mass-mail-feeling message that is short and sweet, and acknowledges that you’re feeling like they aren’t interested in what you have to offer (whether that’s a scholarship or a roster spot). Ask them to reply and let you know if they don’t want to hear what you’re ready to offer them. If you’re direct and to the point, this type of message has a good chance of working.
One more note: For most of you, as we often discuss in the on-campus recruiting workshops that we conduct for college athletic departments, what you’re telling the prospect in those initial messages isn’t something they want to hear about. Focus less on stats, data and information about your college and program, and more about what you’re looking for in this next recruiting class – and how they fit into that plan you have.
Be patient. Obviously, coaches have to cut bait at some point, but we see too many coaches giving up too quickly on their new recruits. Don’t be that coach.