Quick plot overview: Sandra Bullock is trying to escape a mysterious force that causes anyone who see’s it to die. So, to escape it, she and her children attempt to escape it’s presence by blindfolding themselves as they maneuver through a forest and down a river. Millions of people have watched it, and some have even attempted to replicate the theme of the movie by doing things blindfolded.
Now, in all honesty, I haven’t seen the movie. And I haven’t participated in any dares recently.
But I would like to put blindfolds on college coaches at certain points in their process of communicating with their prospects. Why? Because like Sandra Bullock, they often give in to their fears. Many of them are irrational, or based on bad data and myths. If they could just look away and focus on reality, they’d enjoy an almost immediate shift in their recruiting results.
Here’s my wish list:
I’d blindfold college coaches who treat their division level or recent history as a liability. Way too often, coaches immediately subjugate themselves to the idea that a recruit who is getting recruited by a bigger division or “bigger brand” program, or by a program who is coming off a conference championship, is going to view their own program as lesser. Most of the time, a recruit needs an explanation of what your division level, brand or recent history means. But when we talk to athletes in the middle of getting recruited, they tell us they are more interested in why they should be interested in taking a serious look at a college or program, and they’re waiting for coaches to tell them. So, Coach, ignore what you think a recruit thinks. Many times, they just want you to make your case to them.
I’d blindfold college coaches who get distracted from consistently recruiting. Consistency is key. It’s something we help our clients plan out and execute, and preach consistently to coaches at the on-campus recruiting workshops we conduct year around. What we fight are coaches who are constantly distracted by the newest shiny object that pops up in front of them during their day. If coaches don’t set aside regular times during their day to send out recruiting messaging – preferably first thing in the morning on set days of the week – it won’t usually stay regular and consistent. Why is that a problem? Your recruits are judging your consistency throughout the process as a way of determining, rightly or wrongly, your level of interest in them. I’m talking about letters, emails and social media that tells your story, and makes that case I described in the first point as to why they should pay attention to you. You have to tell your story regularly, Coach. Some of you need to blindfold yourself to anything that gets in your way of consistently doing that.
I’d blindfold college coaches when they feel afraid to talk about an offer, or money, early in the process. Note: I’m not suggesting you offer early to any and every prospect on your list. Me blindfolding you would only happen after you knew you wanted that prospect on your team. The reason I would blindfold coaches is because, in general, they are waiting too long to offer recruits, and talk about money. They need to blindfolded so they wouldn’t be tempted to put up unneeded hurdles they have convinced themselves they need to see before they can take the logical next step, which is to verify that they as coaches are interested in that prospect by offering a scholarship, or at least bringing up the topic of money. Coach, do you want to lead your prospect out of their decision making paralysis? Get comfortable with the concept of talking about money – or your offer – as early as possible. Coaches all over the country are needlessly delaying decisions, and losing once-interested prospects, simply because they are personally uncomfortable with the topic of money with the parents and prospect.
(I was originally going to stop with those three, but now I’m fired-up and thinking of a few more things I really feel I need to talk about)
I’d blindfold college coaches who have convinced themselves that teenagers don’t read emails anymore. They do. If your email communication is written with the proper language, it can be just as interactive and effective as text messaging. (If you want to take a deep dive into this topic, click here for 15+ years worth of research and advice on the topic of effective emails).
I’d blindfold college coaches when they look negatively at their own facilities. (Of course, many coaches would jokingly reply, “Yeah, Dan, we wear blindfolds when we have to look at it, too!) I get it, you want new facilities. A bigger weight room. Preferably, one that doesn’t smell like 1974. And while we’re at it, new offices, and an upgraded locker room. And you know what? I vote yes. On everything. I love it when I see coaches who get new stuff. But you know what? If that’s not part of the plan at your campus, please don’t convince yourself that an older, smaller, uglier facility means you can’t recruit good athletes to come play there. We’ve seen plenty of our clients turn their recruiting around after they turned their outlook turned around. Your prospects are listening to what you say about your facilities, and how you seem to feel about them. Trust me on this. If you are apologetic and voice disappointment in your surroundings, don’t be surprised when your prospects adopt that view, too.
I’d blindfold college coaches who second guess their career choice, and are considering quitting. Don’t, Coach. If you have a love for young people, and a passion for your sport, stick with it. The grass isn’t always greener. Be persistent, stay positive, run from negative influences, and don’t believe the hype that the people you’re working with/the hours/the low pay/all the stress/ isn’t worth it. Most of those things will come along with your next job outside of coaching. You work in the toy store of the American professional workplace, and you know there are 200 people who would do your job in a heartbeat. Why? Because there’s nothing else in the world like it. You’re in a good spot, Coach. Hang in there.