by Greg Carroll, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
With the approaching conclusion of the fall season and as many coaches find themselves looking at their past season and results that may have left them unfulfilled many are asking themselves what happened?
It’s the same question others are asking themselves reflecting on an incoming recruiting class. And it’s very similar to the question yet other coaches who find themselves taking over a program that has had multiple coaching changes and/or lacking competitive success. I was working with one of those coaches recently as he was trying to find the voice and the message that would lead future recruits to his program even though they don’t have a history of competitive success.
If you want to get the attention of those new recruits who will help you get on track you have to show them in detail what you are now doing differently that will absolutely lead to improved results and that you need them to be part of that solution.
The key to turning the page is being honest about any trappings that contributed to your program’s current condition. Whether your downfall was attributable to staff turnover, budget challenges, scheduling, short sighted recruiting, or player management it is important that you be honest with yourself, your recruits, and their parents about what actually happened. If they are going to choose you, it is a necessity that they see you as trustworthy. Owning a shortcoming and discussing it openly will result in them seeing you as a trustworthy coach.
What’s next? The next step is building out a needs assessment process in the same fashion you would if your goal was to change the trajectory of any effort. What do you need to take your program from where it currently is regarding the shortcoming to where you want to be? The process might look like the following:
Define The Problem: You have a lot of options here. Player feedback is always helpful but often skewed by their experiences and how the shortcoming impacted them personally. Obviously video is a resource but you can also rely on notes from practice plans, consultation with coaching staff, collaboration with other coaching peers. At the end of the day, it’s pretty easy for you to identify where things went off the rails. For the sake of this example, let’s say the short-coming was related to simply not recruiting enough players with the skill you need to be successful.
Identify Solution: Using the same resources mentioned above you identify what you need to do differently moving forward. For this example some of the options might be:
- Changing the programs you have been recruiting from. Have you been focusing on high school athletes opposed to club level players? Maybe you need to reach higher and recruit from more competitive club programs. Are you using a timeline? If not, know that the better athletes are likely being swept up sooner by other programs. Have you quantified your needs by scoring your current players and then recruiting above their scores based on specific skills needed at that position? Maybe you simply need to be on road more often, expanding your geographic footprint. Another possibility may be one of organization and you need to improve your technical skills and start using recruiting software. Another option might be asking the high end recruits you didn’t get in your last class (or better yet ask their parents!) why they chose to go elsewhere
- Secure Necessary Resources: You can have the best solutions imaginable but if you don’t have the funds to travel more or purchase software you’re left with solutions that can be implemented with minimal cost. As you solicit funds necessary for your initiatives line up your points as “return on investment” arguments (how traveling more broadens your brand, builds enrollment, improves competitiveness, etc). But also, go after the strategies that have little or no cost.
- Implement The Plan: Whatever you new game plan is, there comes the time where it comes to life. Whether it is hitting the road, building relationships with new club coaches, doing a forensic on your last recruiting class, establishing new work habits or learning how to use new recruiting software, etc. the sooner you can take the first steps toward change the better.
- Assess and Repeat: A true process isn’t linear but instead recycles itself with the goal being continual improvement. So, you evaluate the results of the strategies you added to your gameplan and the process repeats itself.
If you are taking over a program or you are coming off a season that didn’t produce the results you expected you need to be able to show your new recruits a strategic plan you have developed for what you will be doing differently. You need to show them point by point specific events that led to those results and again, point by point what you are doing differently that will change the outcome.
Greg Carroll is a former college AD who now works with coaches through Tudor Collegiate Strategies. He is part of the team helping these coaches come up with a plan to recruit more effectively. Have questions about how you can create a winning recruiting plan? Email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.