There are probably a lot of things that are not the best at your school. Maybe they are not the worst, but certainly are not the best out there.
- Your weight room
- Your financial aid offerings
- Your program’s winning history
- Your academic rankings
- Your competition facility
- Your campus dining hall
- Your location’s weather
The list could go on. And coach, if any or all of these apply at your school, I am sorry. That is too bad. And those features probably create some challenges for you which is unfortunate.
But, your recruits are not going to choose you because they feel sorry for your lack of quality facilities. Or lack of scholarship money to offer. They want to know what you can offer them.
And while there is little to nothing you can do about the things on that list, there is something you absolutely have complete control of. Something you can be the best at. Whether you coach softball or football. Division 1 or NAIA. There is something that is very important to recruits and you can, and should be the best at it.
How you, as the coach, make recruits feel.
Seems simple. But, it is one of the top factors that recruits consider when making their decision. It ranks higher than your academic prestige, your weight room, or the food on your campus.
Since this is such an important factor and you have control over it, how can you create a better feeling for that recruit than your competitors? Here are two ways:
1) Make it clearer than any other coach that you want that recruit
How can you make it really clear? Tell them! “Recruit, we really want you here.” That is one phrase that leaves little room for uncertainty.
If you want to make it clear, you need to also ask that recruit for a commitment. Even if they do not commit on the spot, you doing that will separate you from the other coaches that have not asked them yet.
Say they still are not completely sure that you want them. Or maybe there is another coach or two that is doing a great job of this as well. What does the recruit do? They ask their parents who they feel is the best coach!
If you can show the parents that you want their son or daughter more than any other coach does, that will influence how the parents talk about you with their child. And they do talk. If you can separate yourself with the parents it will help separate you from other options with the recruit too!
2) Be the most consistent communicator
Consistent communication is completely in your control! And the reason why this is such a great opportunity to be the best at something is because recruits LOVE consistency. It is something they claim as being a top reason they choose a program. Lack of consistent communication is also a top reason recruits say they stop communicating and lose interest in a coach.
Now, don’t confuse consistency with frequency. Recruits are not saying they love being hit up every single day with a text or a call. One, that is overwhelming for them. But two, that is a tough frequency for you to maintain. And when you don’t maintain it, you’ve lost your consistency.
This can take several forms. One just being your response rate to their questions. If they shoot you a text or email, respond in a timely manner. This doesn’t mean you need to respond within five minutes every single time. But they should be able to say, “Coach usually gets back to me within a few hours or within the day.” What you don’t want is them to say, “Coach sometimes gets back to me quickly. Other times I don’t hear back for days.”
Recruits also want a message from you every week or so that, that gives them a reason why they should choose you.
Their parents want something from you every three to five weeks that also gives them reasons why their child should choose you.
Keeping up with that will create an unfair standard of consistency that your competition will struggle to compete with. When they cannot, you will have claimed the title of most consistent communicator.
When your recruit evaluates their options, they’ll look at your facilities, your cost of attendance, and your academics. But they will also be heavily weighing how you make them feel. Be the best at that, Coach. And it will take you a long way with your prospects!
Dan Christensen is part of the team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies who works with college coaches and athletic departments helping them develop the best recruiting campaign possible. We focus on research-based strategies that develop messaging that you can send out to recruits that gets increased responses from prospects, and helps develop better programs. For details on how it all works, click here.