Want to be taken seriously by college coaches? Kick things off with a letter. Before dropping your college recruiting letter in the mail or sending an email, read through these guidelines to ensure you’re making the best possible first impression.
It’s Not About You
Instead of talking about yourself right away, start your letter by explaining why you like the school. Inventory the things that appeal to you—e.g., location, history, academics, traditions—and mention two or three you especially like in your opening paragraph. Coaches want to know that you’re truly interested in their school, not just that you want to play sports there.
Next, talk about what you like about the athletic program. This could be anything from the program’s success, facilities and coaching staff to friends who played there or games you’ve watched or attended.
When your letter starts with an expression of genuine interest in the school and its athletic program—rather than a catalog of your accomplishments—you won't turn coaches off. On the contrary, you'll get their attention.
Start your personal introduction with information about yourself as a person and a student. Ultimately, your talent level will likely determine whether you’ll be offered a scholarship; but with this letter, you’re trying to establish a relationship. If you start with some academic information and something interesting about yourself (e.g., an experience you had on vacation, or a lesson learned from a book you just read), you’ll be a step ahead of recruits who come across in full-blast sales mode.
After a brief introduction, it’s finally time to present some athletic information. Here, you may want to talk about your skills, stats, strengths and successes. Be specific, and don’t worry about packing in too much information. No coach will make a decision based solely on words on a page. Anyone can sound good on paper. What you do next will determine how much interest you’ll receive.
Prove that you’re worth a look by showing a coach your performance on the field or court. With a traditional letter, enclose a highlight video. In an email, include an attachment or links to your highlights on YouTube. Let the coach know when he or she can see you play by including your team’s schedule or providing dates for camps and tournaments you’ll be attending.
Finally, provide references. Don’t waste anyone’s time by asking them to write a letter of reference; most college coaches ignore them since they’re virtually always glowing reviews. Instead, provide names, titles, email addresses and phone numbers for your references. When coaches contact your references by email or phone, they’re likely to get a much more honest and straightforward reply.
Remember, a coach's job in recruiting is difficult. When you make his or her job easier by delivering lots of relevant information about yourself as a person, a student and an athlete, it will speed up the recruiting process and make a much more favorable impression.
An NCAA coach since 1992, Wayne Mazzoni currently works for Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. He is the author of several books, including Get Recruited: The Definitive Guide to Playing College Sports. He has been featured on WFAN, Fox, ABC and News 12, and he has led seminars at more than 300 high schools and both state and national conventions. Visit his site at WayneMazzoni.com.