Best selling author and marketing guru Seth Godin makes a great point about the way we approach things in life, and it has a lot of application to the job set before you as a college coach in recruiting this next generation of athlete.
“When you work with anticipation”, says Godin, “you will highlight the highs. You’ll double down on the things that will delight and push yourself even harder to be bold and to create your version of art. If this is going to work, might as well build something that’s going to be truly worth building.
“If you work with anxiety, on the other hand, you’ll be covering the possible lost bets, you’ll be insuring against disaster and most of all, building deniability into everything you do. When you work under the cloud of anxiety, the best strategy is to play it safe, because if (when!) it fails, you’ll be blameless.
Maybe you see where I’m going with this, Coach:
- Way too many coaches selling themselves – and their program – short.
- Way too many coaches give up too soon on their “next level” recruits.
- Way too many coaches worry about recruiting instead of approaching it as an incredibly exciting opportunity.
Working through the filter of anxiety, as a lot of coaches do in our experience, stops you in your tracks as a coach and recruiter. Coaches who play it safe, don’t take a “heck yeah I can get that recruit!” attitude, and generally don’t aggressively pursue a recruiting plan that aims high never, ever make big changes to their program. Exactly the opposite happens: Coaches settle, take on a negative outlook on who they can get and what they can achieve through their recruiting efforts, and experience year after year of frustration when it comes to their results.
Now, look at the other approach: It’s riskier, in the sense that a coach who takes this approach will fail…and fail often. There’s risk in that, because a coach who doesn’t take a long term, consistent approach to recruit won’t be able to afford to fail; that coach needs success, and needs it in a hurry. And so they push, stretch the truth, and pressure recruits.
On the other hand, the coach that takes the “risk” – that is, anticipating and enjoying the recruiting process as a central part of their job as a college coach and recruiter, will build a program that is successful for the long haul. Risk? Yes. But the rewards almost always follow. Look at any coach you consider successful in your sport, and chances are 1) they are a great recruiter, and 2) didn’t approach recruiting with anxiety and a negative attitude on what they could do in building a program they would be proud of.
Which brings it back to you, Coach:
If you’re someone who might be taking the wrong outlook towards your job as a recruiter, and filling your days with negative thoughts and anxiety about the job in front of you, here are three things I’ve seen successful coaches do to turn around your results when it comes to attracting the right kind of prospect to your program:
- Understand that you’re going to lose more than you win. One big mistake I see recruiters make over and over again is assuming they will win more recruits than they lose. That’s not realistic, unless you’re recruiting athletes who aren’t those game-changers you need. If you’re getting a lot of no’s, at least you know you’re going after the right recruits. (Don’t change that approach, by the way. You can adjust your tactics to get better results, so keep aiming high). That being said…
- Be realistic and have a good foundation to build on. If you use letter grades to rate your prospects, I’m talking about getting a healthy number of B+ and B caliber recruits. Aiming high for the A+ recruits fits right into that positive “anticipation” approach that turns good programs into great ones. But along the way, don’t sacrifice your foundation…it’s a combination of the right recruits that builds a solid program from top to bottom. Too many coaches either swing for the fences with every recruit, or simply settle for good (but not great) recruits that result in middle-of-the-pack finishes year after year.
- Make sure you’re having fun. That’s what Godin refers to when he talks about “doubling down on the stuff that delights and pushes you.” If you aren’t enjoying the recruiting part of your job, then figure out why that’s happening and what you need to change it. The other trait I’ve seen among the great coaches we get to work with is that they figure out what they’re passionate about, and do it as much as they can. Recruiting is challenging enough…you need to find ways to enjoy it, or your prospects for a successful, long term college coaching career aren’t going to be bright.
Every coach has to find their own answer when it comes to how to enjoy and anticipate the recruiting side of your life, while also eliminating the anxiety that handcuffs you from making real strides. As you head into this next recruiting year, make sure you take the time to figure out how to make that happen – for they good of your program and your own coaching career.
Need help with formulating a strategy and putting proven ideas to work for you and your program? An inexpensive option that hundreds of coaches have found helpful is reading our popular recruiting workbooks. They’re packed with ideas and new ways of approaching the most important part of your coaching career. Or, for something more in-depth, consider becoming one of our clients. We work with you one-on-one to create and execute a recruiting plan that will get results. Click here for the details.