So, it’s finally summer! After an absolutely unforgettable year that most of us would love to forget, we can finally relax, kick back, and get back to going out, seeing friends, and enjoying the good life right?
Well, yeah, sort of ….
It is absolutely essential to use the summer months to recharge and regroup. The academic year leaves little room for doing things you enjoy doing. At the same time, while you are running around putting out fires from August to May you really don’t have the time to address many of the things you know you could be doing to be more effective in your coaching position. At the risk of sounding like the fun police I’m going to offer a few suggestions that require very little “lifting” but will make you more effective and successful when the rubber returns to the road in the fall.
- Meet with your athletic director. When I was an AD I always made it a point to use the summer months to schedule a really solid couple hours with my head coaches on a walk, over a meal, somewhere outside my office to break down the past year in a totally conversational way. These conversations were always impactful. If your AD doesn’t schedule these sessions, ask for one! The tone will be much lighter during the summer and if there are things you’d like to address this is the perfect time. If by some chance you are not getting evaluated annually (that always amazes me!) ask for one! You deserve to know where you stand and have something formal on file. These conversations are perfect opportunities to talk about your larger goals for your program and personally. A good AD will want to see you accomplish both and see what they can do to help you achieve them. But none of this happens if you are not talking.
- Assess your recruiting for the past year. During a recent workshop I conducted for a client department I asked the coaching staff to consider the three activities tied to their recruiting and assign a percentage of time spent on each. Do they match the return on investment when you look at your incoming class? If you’re spending half your time nurturing leads from recruiting services but landed no recruits, yet half of the prospects YOU identified have enrolled you should be spending more time on identification. This is also a good time to take an honest look at how much time you are spending on your recruiting and if there are things in your daily schedule you can adjust in order to work more efficiently. If you are working as efficiently as possible, then it may be time to consider getting some help. The Total Recruiting Solution from Tudor Collegiate Strategies might be a terrific option.
- Related to the previous point, if you are struggling to find the time to meet the demands of working a strategic approach to your recruiting it may be time to redefine the duties of your assistant coach, hire a different assistant coach, and/or negotiate with your AD for more resources to support the role of your assistant. How do you do that? It’s a zero sum game. You need to demonstrate to your AD that the return on investing more deeply in an assistant will have financial gain for the institution. Obviously, roster growth is easy to demonstrate (“I have room for three more athletes and I assure you I can get them with a better package for an assistant.”) You can also demonstrate a return by talking about how the assistant will support retention, academic monitoring, parent engagement, and other customer service aspects of your program, all of them good for your recruiting success. A final suggestion would be to explore other duties the assistant can do on campus where financial resources already exist. Maybe there is a role in the admissions office, your campus fitness center, a role in your residence life department, campus ministry, etc.
- If you are a large roster sport like track and field, swimming, rowing, etc. this is the time to build that database of recruits that will carry your recruiting through the next year. Call high school and club coaches, try to get out to some sport camps, attend summer swim club meets, summer track series offered by recreation departments and running clubs, etc. Get names and build relationships that will support your recruiting needs.
- One of the things we’ve been talking a lot about this year is the shift to parents and recruits relying on the coach as their go to person for everything from acceptance, financial aid, housing, meal plans, academic support, etc. I always encouraged my coaches to use the summer as an opportunity to visit the counseling center, career development, academic support center and others to become more informed. If you are up against a coach who has done his/her homework on these aspects of the college experience and you are woefully uninformed – you’ll loose.
- I’m a big fan of collaboration. As an AD I did a variety of things during the summer to provide opportunities for my staff to collaborate and share ideas. Many of them involved social meetings, off campus where we could talk shop but away from campus, in a casual setting. I just found those conversations to be really productive. Outings to baseball games, road races, happy hours, meetings at the lake, etc. If you’re a coach you can arrange these with your peers as easily as your AD.
- Read, dedicate yourself to listening to one podcast a day, make an investment in your own improvement. If you expect your athletes to be doing that it only seems fitting we do the same thing.
If you really enjoy your job and the duties you have in your athletic department it’s easy to find ways to still have that taste of summer while taking steps to make that totally all in part of the year from August to May. Use the summer to build your skills and the resources that support you during those critical months that stretch across the rest of the year.
Greg Carroll is a former college athletic director and current recruiting coordinator and advisor for Tudor Collegiate Strategies. To contact Greg, email him at email@example.com.