A recruiting visit is essentially a job interview, and it needs to be treated as such. Everything from the way you look to how you communicate is evaluated and examined by the coaches. Rise to the challenge of this important occasion and lock up a scholarship with these tips:
Make a Great First Impression
You've heard it many times, but it's true: you don't get a second chance to make a good first impression. Your initial in-person meeting with a coach needs to be extremely positive.
Most coaches aren't too picky, but what you wear is one of the first things they notice, so you need to look presentable. It never hurts to dress business casual. Good go-to's are nice jeans or dress pants and a collar shirt or polo knit. You will probably be doing a lot of walking—visiting the school's athletic facilities, academic halls, dorm rooms and lunch halls—so wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing.
Your handshake says a lot about who you are as a person. I have been in coaching staff meetings where we've discussed a poor handshake from a recruit. He was on the bubble to begin with, but his poor handshake put him over the edge and off our recruiting board. Deliver a firm handshake, make eye contact and offer a confident greeting. (See How to Deliver an Unforgettable Handshake.)
Be a Great Communicator
Make Eye Contact
Non-verbal communication is just as important as verbal communication. Show confidence by looking directly into the coach's eyes. Coaches want know that you're interested in what they say, and if your eyes are wandering, they'll think you don't care. I understand that not everyone is comfortable looking directly into someone's eyes for an extended length of time. One suggestion is to look at their forehead. I was taught that if you need to look away, look to the side, not up or down. It may seem insignificant, but an athlete with wandering eyes is extremely frustrating for a coach. Also, make sure to sit up straight in your chair. Slouching gives off a lazy vibe.
Prepare a list of things you want to learn about the school and the program, and don't be afraid to ask questions. It won't hurt to include questions about academics, such as "What is the graduation rate of athletes in the program?" "Do athletes have access to academic support services?" and "How have other athletes with my intended major balanced their sport with their studies?"
A great conversation can go a long way to determining whether you will fit well with the team. Stay in the conversation. There's nothing worse than one-word responses. Keep the dialogue flowing.
Parents, stay engaged in the conversation, but don't embarrass your son or daughter with inappropriate questions.
The coach has already shown interest in you by inviting you to campus. It's your job to show that you'll be able to fit in with the team and the campus community. Coaches want athletes with good character. Prove that you will be a positive addition to the team.
Sell coaches on the fact that you will bring something to the program that others cannot. Show them that you will represent the school the way they think it should be represented. Your goal should be to leave the coach feeling comfortable with you as a person and as an athlete.
Learn more about putting your best foot forward during a recruiting visit through the 2012 STACK Recruiting Guide.
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