by Greg Carroll, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
This may sound like a strange way into a conversation about recruiting but stay with me …. I’ll get there!!!
My dog, Jena, is a 15 year old Flatcoat Retriever. She has a silky soft jet black coat and the personality of an angel. She’s the most loyal, friendly dog I’ve ever had (and I’ve always had a dog.) She’s suffering from arthritis in her knees and has trouble going up and down stairs. It’s hard to watch her struggle. But she loves sleeping on the stairs that lead to our upstairs bedrooms. I’ve tried everything to train her to sleep elsewhere. But she really loves sleeping RIGHT THERE. So I’ve surrendered.
So what does this have to do with recruiting? I was talking with a coach the other day about his recruiting and the challenge he often has getting the kind of recruits he needs to compete to consider his program which is not located in a part of the country traditionally known as a hotbed for that specific sport. He’s spent thousands of dollars in travel and countless hours shaking the trees for prospects in those hotbeds. While he can get players, they’re not the players that will move him forward.
Meanwhile, he is having much better success recruiting internationally, using a network supported by international players he already has who recruit on his behalf when they go to their home country, talking to other players and coaches there. How much does that cost his recruiting budget? ZERO!!!
The moral of the story here is really two fold. First, just like my effort to retrain my dog, if your efforts recruiting a particular way, in a particular place, trying to get a particular player aren’t working stop doing that! I talk with a lot of young coaches who become enamored with the prospect who emails them from the other side of the country or perhaps internationally. They think “Wow, this is terrific!” So they work those leads tirelessly not knowing every other coach in the country got that same email.
The key is to look critically at what’s working and what isn’t and dedicate your energy to what is working. Your prospects likely come from one of four sources:
- recruiting services
- sport specific sites (ie. swim cloud)
- referrals from others like admissions, high school/club coaches, etc.
- your own identification (showcases, invitationals, etc.)
If you have been securing classes of five athletes for the past three years and four of the five have come to you through referrals (high school/club coaches, admissions, alumni, etc.) and you identified the other committed athlete by seeing them play you would be wise to continue to invest in building out your network of referrals and identification. The opposite could also be true. If you’re not converting referrals successfully but your identification is paying dividends as is sport specific site work, that’s where you should be focusing. It all starts by assessing where you are being successful.
The second lesson here is related to using your current athletes to help you get the recruiting success you want. They should be your best ambassadors. Are they competing in summer leagues, are they working summer camps, are they still connected to their high school / club coaches? They should be great resources for you. Not only do they know who the real players are back in the chrome communities, they know your program better than anyone else.
If you are not talking with your current athletes about recruiting you are missing a huge opportunity. Year after year the data we collect from the athletes themselves tell us that the decision about where they choose to go to school is deeply tied to the relationship they establish with your current players. You want your players to reach out to your recruits, follow them on social media, correspond with them before they visit, etc.
There’s no reason to make recruiting any harder than it already is. Pursuing strategies that are not getting results might be wasting both time and money you could be using elsewhere (like the Tudor Collegiate Strategies Total Recruiting Solution (dantudor.com). It may be as simple as working with your current athletes on what they can do to be your allies in your recruiting efforts.
If you want help evaluating where you are wasting time in recruiting and where you should be focusing your efforts instead, email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a call with him.