Editor’s note: For the first part of this article, check out College Athletics Recruiting 101.
The road to college can be a challenging one, but with organization and passion, it can be successful. As a coach of a Division I team for 19 years, I’ve learned firsthand what makes an impression on a coach and what doesn’t. Last week I shared a few tips on how to gain admittance into your school of choice. In this week’s article, I give a few ways that you can make your profile stand out to any coach.
Communication becomes the vehicle to move with definite purpose. Effective communication between you, your family and a college coach is critical to the coach’s decision. It can make or break an athletic scholarship offer or provide an extra “push” in the admission process. On the other hand, ill-prepared communication can cause confusion and misdirection. Your ship moves, but with a weak rudder.
Communication should be initiated early on by you and your family. Although college coaches have clear restrictions as to when and where they may contact recruits, you can call or e-mail a coach, with few exceptions.
An initial letter of introduction accompanied by a profile is a great way to begin, but it’s very important to follow up by e-mail and phone. If you practice persistence with respect, you will grab the college coach’s attention.
Provide the college coach with everything he/she requests (profile, DVD, transcripts, etc.) in a timely manner. This will make the evaluation of athletic talent and academic credentials an easy task for coaches, and they’ll develop a level of appreciation that could be the “tie breaker” when it comes down to deciding which prospects to support. Remember: cultivating a strong and genuine relationship with coaches, based on honesty and sincerity, is critical to building trusting relationships.
As one can imagine, college coaches receive hundreds of personal profiles annually from prospects. Most coaches prioritize their recruiting file based on the initial cover letter and profile. These documents will usually be placed in one of three files of importance:
“A” file: blue chip, top-tier recruits
“B” file: second-tier recruits; still have excellent opportunity
“C” file: little chance of impact; admissions risks
It is important to streamline your portfolio into a comprehensive yet efficient format, which stands above the rest. Keep your profile simple, neat and professionally formatted. Make the job of initial evaluation easy for the college coach by highlighting pertinent information, including:
• Personal and school contact information
• Academic standing, awards and test results
• Physical characteristics
• Athletic clubs and level, showcase tournaments and elite camps
• Athletic statistics, records and awards
• Mission statement
• Coach’s comments
Maintain a copy of your generic player profile to send to the majority of schools. Then personalize five to 10 profiles to be sent to your top schools, with any additional information that will help you gain admission and/or scholarship attention, such as family legacy or indirect connection to the coach. Commit to making a strong impression with a professional approach in all written correspondence. Remember: your goal is to move your profile to the “A” contact folder.
A video is another means of creating a first impression—and trust me, first impressions are remembered. Typically, coaches will roughly evaluate a recruit within the first two minutes of the video. They need to! Along with hundreds of profiles, they are being bombarded with hundreds of videos. Make your video succinct and professional, and yet attention-grabbing. Follow these guidelines:
• Introduction: in the first 20 seconds, tell coaches who you are, where you are from, and what your specific goals are. Show confidence and project a mature image.
• Video footage: The coach will have a good indication of your talent within the first two minutes of your video. Highlight outstanding moments and technical mastery of your talent, which will grab the coach’s attention.
• Show five to seven minutes of your finest game clips, along with training highlights.
• Finish your video with 15 seconds of direct contact information for you, your club and/or high school coach.
Keep in mind that individual collegiate sports differ, and it is important to communicate with the college coaches about their requirements for DVD footage.
The profile and video will initially define you in the eyes of the college coach. They both should be crisp, clean, and to the point. Give the coach every reason to filter your information into the active recruit file.
Be sure to continue with timely communications to the coaches. Inform them of new awards, accolades, records or landmark achievements. Don’t call after every big competition, and keep your communications brief and focused.
The college recruiting process is both exciting and potentially overwhelming. It requires a disciplined and yet flexible approach, especially when timelines get tight and situations become challenging. Developing and executing plans are crucial to success; view it as no different from preparing for a championship competition. Communication (both offering and receiving) is vital, and participants need to build mutually strong and respectful relationships in order to maximize results.
The bottom line: through a systematic college recruiting process, you can identify, work toward and hopefully secure admission to the college of your choice—one that is an ideal academic and athletic fit.
Tom Kovic, a former Division I college coach, is director of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he advises and consults with individual families on college recruiting. For further information, visit victoryrecruiting.com.