Setting deadlines for recruits to make a decision. This is a strategy that coaches tend to be divided on.
There is one side that usually is all in favor of setting deadlines for recruits. Could be 48-hour deadlines. Could be a week or a month. But, they use deadlines to get recruits to make decisions.
The other side of coaches wants to give recruits all the time in the world to make their decision. The reason is to avoid pressuring recruits to make a decision before they are ready. Coaches want to be the nice one that is not forcing them to decide.
There is a way for coaches to use deadlines while also being ethical and not forcing recruits into a decision.
This involves letting recruits know the timeframe for when your program will be wrapping up recruiting. It isn’t a specific day that you come up with out of nowhere and force onto a recruit unexpectedly. But, it is a timeframe that you let recruits know of in advance and remind them about consistently throughout the process.
There are several benefits of setting this timeline for recruits. Here are two:
1) Provide recruits with a vision of the end
People want to know when things will end. When your next staff meeting will end. When your next phone call end. When your next bus ride will end.
When coaches do not tell recruits when the end of the process is, there is a lack of structure that these prospects want. Recruits worry about making the wrong decision and so even when they are ready to decide, they delay.
And for most coaches, recruits delaying drives them crazy! Delaying actually stresses recruits out too but they do it because they don’t know when they should decide. No one has defined it for them.
Talk about the end with your recruits and give them guidance for when the process ends so they can ensure they accomplish what they need to accomplish before the end arrives.
2) It adds value to what your program has to offer
Regardless of whether you offer partial, full, or no scholarships, what you have as a coach are roster spots. And recruits want to know how valuable that roster spot is. If they are part of your team what is that worth?
When a coach tells a recruit they can decide whenever they want and they will be accepted, what does that indicate to the prospect? There must not be much of a line to get one of those spots. There does not seem to be a desire on the part of other recruits to join the program if the roster won’t be full deep into the spring or summer. This devalues the roster spot they have been offered.
On the flip side, if a recruit is told “we will be wrapping up recruiting at the end of February”, that tells the recruit there are athletes in line and the roster will be full at that time. This adds value to the spot being offered.
Laying out the timeline for your recruits as to when they need to make a decision by will both give them the guidance they are looking for and add value to what you have to offer them as the coach!
Dan Christensen is part of our team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies that helps coaches craft effective recruiting strategies, and develops messaging campaigns that work (especially when they come with fair but firm deadlines). To find out how we work with coaching staffs around the country one-on-one, click here.