“If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
This quote from Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights might seem a little narrow minded. But, he is on to something. When it comes to recruiting, it is better to be first than last.
Is it impossible to land a recruit when the relationship between you and that prospect starts later than with other coaches? No. And if you discover a prospect late, should you still contact them? Absolutely. But, the earlier you can start, the more advantages you gain in the process. As long as you have a strong recruiting plan.
1) The opportunity to set an unfair standard with your communication
Consistency in your recruiting message is very important. 80% of recruits say that part of why they stop responding to coaches is because the coach communicated inconsistently.
Consistency also gains value over time. If you communicate once a week with a prospect for a year and half, it will have a stronger impact than if you did that for just a few months. If you are one of the first coaches to start recruiting that player, you will have the opportunity to make that impact over a longer span of time. Many of the other coaches you are competing with for that prospect will not maintain this consistency. You doing it from the start will only separate you from the others that much more.
2) Recruits do not want to start the recruiting process over again
If you come a little late to the party, often a recruit has gone through many steps in the process with other coaches. Say for example, there are ten steps in the recruiting process. If that player is at steps seven or eight with several other coaches, it is very hard to convince them to begin back at step one with you.
Recruits start with an initial list of schools and they narrow it down as they get closer to their decision. If they have already gone through the often stressful and difficult decision to eliminate schools from their list, they typically are not going to want to add more schools to that list. Even if you are a fantastic option and maybe a better school and program than the ones left on their list, they just don’t want to re-start the whole process.
If you can be first in recruiting a student-athlete, you can avoid this dilemma and give yourself the chance to tell your story well, over a longer period of time!
Dan Christensen is a Regional Recruiting Coordinator for Tudor Collegiate Strategies, and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.