by Dan Christensen, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
Late commitments. They are less desirable for a variety of reasons.
Later in the year there are less options of available recruits and so statistically, it is harder to get talented prospects.
Later in the year, things start to get more stressful. Your ability to meet your roster requirements set by the administration are in question. You’d like to move on to your next class or just simply focus on your current team for the upcoming year, but your attention is instead focused on your desperation to finish your class. That can be stressful.
So clearly, getting recruits to commit earlier would help for a variety of reasons. But, how can you do that?
Here are two ways to get commits earlier than you are right now:
1) Ask early
First of all, make sure you are in fact asking recruits if they feel ready to commit. If you’re not asking, you’re making it harder for them to make the commitment.
Recruits are hesitant. They are afraid of making the wrong decision or saying the wrong thing. And so, when a coach asks them “do you feel like you’re ready to verbally commit?” it opens the door for them to go ahead and make that decision.
But, the second part of this strategy is to ask early. Don’t wait until you are fed up with their lack of decisiveness and you’re just so desperate that you ask because you need an answer.
A good rule of thumb, Coach, is to ask if you are ready to hear them say yes.
Even if you don’t think they’ll be ready to say yes, if you’d accept their yes, ask!
The first beneficial result of asking early is the obvious one. They say yes and now you have an early commit! Why didn’t they commit early on their own? Because they were waiting for you to ask.
The other beneficial result of asking early, even if they say they are not ready to commit, is that you’ve shown that prospect how serious you are about them. You’ll start to notice that they are taking their recruitment more seriously after you ask. They’ll take that visit they hadn’t taken yet. They’ll fill out that application you’ve been asking them to fill out.
Also, if they’re not ready yet, the immediate follow-up to that should be you asking why. This will give you the keys to be able to eventually get that commitment, still sooner than you would otherwise.
2) Start earlier
Obvious? Yes. But, are you doing it?
I see this situation happen all too often. A coach reaches out to a new prospect who could be a great fit for their program. But, the athlete’s response is something like, “Sorry Coach, but I have already narrowed down my choices.”
The reason behind this is not that it would be impossible for them to start considering you and add you to their list of choices. In their mind though, it is very daunting to think about re-starting the process with a brand new school.
They already know these final few coaches well and it took a while to build that trust with them. They’ve already filled out the applications and taken their official visits at those schools, perhaps.
The solution to this problem is to simply start recruiting earlier. If you can start building the relationship earlier, you’ll now be one of the schools that gets them to turn down the schools that come into the picture late in the process.
Also, the earlier you start, the more time you have to tell your recruiting story. This allows a recruit to have more confidence in their decision to commit to you because your story was more effective than a rushed process.
Start earlier and ask earlier. It seems simple but this is how you can avoid dealing with late recruiting year after year.