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Effective communication with coaches is critical for high school student-athletes finalizing their college search. The recruiting process is not a sprint; it's a marathon. Your efforts need to be tactical and well planned for cultivating sincere relationships with future coaches. Prospects who embrace this important recruiting tool give themselves the greatest chance of success in the final analysis.
How you communicate can either move your college search plan toward your goal or cause confusion and misdirection. Get yourself on the radar of college coaches by realizing your ability and obligation to be proactive in your recruiting efforts. Cultivate this skill early on when seeking relationships with coaches at your target schools. Effective communication will prove your willingness to be an equal partner to the coaches.
Do the necessary research and pay attention to the way you present yourself. Start by getting familiar with the NCAA's contact rules. For example, did you know that July 1 was the first opportunity for most college coaches to initiate phone and off-campus face-to-face contact? Understanding that you may call or e-mail a coach at any time, with rare exceptions, is important. When communicating, practice "persistence with respect" to give yourself a better chance of grabbing favorable attention.
If even thinking about speaking with college coaches gives you the jitters, you are not alone, and your anxiety is not groundless. Coaches can be brutally honest at times, delivering information you might not want to hear. But keep in mind, college coaches are also down to earth, caring men and women who want you to find the right college match.
Honestly, few prospects are ever completely ready to meet and speak with coaches. The trick is to make sure you always lean in a "prepared direction." If you falter or stumble when communicating with coaches, simply find your way back to center. Coaches aren't concerned about the hiccups; they want to see how you recover.
Remember, coaches use three simple factors to size up a prospect: academic strength, athletic ability and depth of character. Since they are gut thinkers, coaches want to know who you are on the inside, which makes character an area they like to explore. This will be quickly apparent in the questions they ask; and their judgments on your character will be based on how you communicate and present yourself.
A proverbial "red flag" for communication is reaching out with no real agenda. As a prospect, you always need to provide information that will improve your chances of staying in the "A" recruiting file. Whether it's news about a higher ACT score or results from a select tournament, give the coach something that has "grip"—something that will improve your position on the recruiting chart.
Proactive communication with potential coaches is key, for two reasons. First, offering well thought out information that is pertinent to the college search sends a clear message that you are well prepared. Second, considering that they deal with hundreds of potential prospects, coaches value time management. Your future coach will appreciate and remember any proactive effort you make to respect that.