by Dan Christensen, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
When I look at programs that have consistent success, one main thing they have in common is they tend to recruit earlier than their competitors.
On the flip side, it is very infrequent that I come across a coach that recruits early yet struggles year after year to meet their roster goals or bring in quality athletes.
I understand that as a college coach, it is pretty much a guarantee that you’re busy and have very little time to spare each day. And so, the thought of focusing on juniors, sophomores, or even freshmen prospects sounds daunting.
But I know that you know that good things come to those that put in the work that others aren’t willing to do.
Coach, I am telling you, there are many coaches you compete against that are not willing to put in that extra work. Which is technically the first reason why you should recruit early. Just simply to be different.
If you need some more convincing though, here are two more reasons why you HAVE to recruit early.
1) An effective recruiting message takes time
Coach, I promise you, if there was a secret one-liner you could send a recruit that would just guarantee a commitment without any prior or future communication, we would make that trick available. Probably for a hefty fee, but still, we’d make sure some coaches were using it.
The problem is, there is not a single magic one-liner. The formula for a winning recruiting campaign is to tell an engaging story, consistently, and for a long period of time.
Depending on what sport you coach and the division level your team competes in, “long period of time” can mean different things.
For some that have more strict recruiting rules and faster timelines, that long period of time might be one or two months. If that is the case, there is very little room for waiting to contact a prospect.
But, for some of you, there might be an opportunity to recruit an athlete for a year. Two years. Or even three years.
Each one of those three parts of the formula is important. You can be consistent and tell an engaging story. But, if you don’t have enough time to tell it, that part of the winning formula is missing. The longer you tell it, there is a multiplier effect on your success.
2) The earlier you recruit, the more options you have
If you reach out to new prospects and get the “I have already narrowed down my list” response, chances are you’re not recruiting early enough.
If you get the call (or worse, just find out on your own), that a recruit committed elsewhere before you feel you even had a chance tell your story, chances are you’re not recruiting early enough.
If you have trouble getting prospects to visit in the winter or spring of their senior year, chances are you’re not recruiting early enough.
While there are still plenty of exceptions, there is a COVID trend that we continue to see where recruits are wanting to commit early.
If you wait too long, there will be recruits committing to the coaches that showed them the love early on.
If you want to maximize the number of recruits that actually take you seriously as an option, you need to get in the game early. First, if possible!
This means having a great plan for how you establish yourself as an option before you make your first contact as well as making sure you create an effective first contact message that you send them early.
Coach, if you want to complete the winning recruiting story formula and make sure you have enough prospects to share that story with, you NEED to recruit early.
Want some more tips for how to stand out and put together an effective recruiting campaign? Email Dan Christensen at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a strategy call.