Communicating With a Coach

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If you've taken the time to polish your skills and market yourself right, the coaches on your college wish list know you've got game. So, how then, beyond the stat sheets and highlight tapes, do they measure your potential? By your character and communication skills, because winning teams are more than rosters full of muscle and speed. The best programs are built on strong character, too. And character doesn't show through only during face-to-face meetings with coaches.

Coaches pick players who have the ability to focus on improving themselves—academically, athletically and personally. UCLA baseball coach John Savage says, "We want to learn as much as we can about [a recruit]—how they treat people, how they respond to adversity. We have to determine [if] they're going to have the aptitude to be a major student-athlete."

While coaching soccer for UCLA, Sigi Schmid judged a potential recruit's character from the stands by studying his body language and how he interacts with others. "I would watch the player at halftime [and] after the game," says Schmid, who coached the Columbus Crew to the 2008 MLS title. "I would see if he listens to his coach. And, I know it sounds silly, but does he carry his own soccer bag, or do his parents carry his bag for him?"

"Character is the hardest thing to find," Schmid says, because many athletes can compete with your rebounding or pitching skills, but not all of them have the solid character to back it up. That means you have to prove that you're more than a standout jock.

You only get one shot at making a good first impression. And although impressions are formed by the character you convey before you ever meet your dream coach in person, how you speak and act around him matters, too.

Posture Stand up straight. It sounds simple, but it's a key to body language. Your posture reflects your personality, and slouching hardly conveys strength and confidence.

Grip When first meeting a coach, offer a firm handshake. Don't overdo it, though; breaking the coach's hand will not improve your chances of locking down a scholarship.

Eyes Make eye contact from the start. Coaches want athletes with character and maturity, and frequent eye contact is a sign of both.

Extras

• Be on time
• Don't chew gum
• Turn off your cell phone
• Ask questions [you're interviewing him, as well]
• Speak slowly and avoid using slang
• Relax
• When leaving, shake hands again and thank the coach for his/her time

Related links:
Wardrobe Essentials
Academic Pitfalls
2009 Key Recruiting Checklist
Bob Sanders' Recruiting Experience
Recruiting Terminology
Financial Aid 411
Divisional Breakdown
Gauging A Coach's Interest
Official College Visits
Researching Colleges
Key NCAA Rules & Regs
Self Marketing Tips


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