USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Garland Cooper, was a three-time NFCA All-American (two-time first team) and Big Ten Player of the Year at Northwestern University. In 2012, Garland was inducted into the NU Hall of Fame having helped the Wildcats to a pair of Women’s College World Series appearances. She was also a first-round pick of the New England Riptide in the 2007 National Pro Fast Pitch College Draft. Garland is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation, and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
Believe us—we get it. Not hearing from college coaches during the recruiting process can be tough. And the uncertainty may leave you wondering: What is my student-athlete doing wrong?
Here are three reasons why your student-athlete may not be hearing from college coaches—and three things you can do about it.
You’re looking at the wrong schools
Before your student-athlete reaches out to a college coach, they should have a good understanding of how they would fit into the athletic program and school. Recruits often send emails to college coaches not really knowing where they stand academically or athletically. At a minimum, your athlete’s key stats need to match—or have the potential to match—other players’ on the team, and their grades and test scores should meet the university’s admissions requirements.
What to do
Trust us, a little research will go a long way. Visit the university’s website to ensure your student-athlete can qualify academically, and then go to the athletic page and check out the team roster (it’s pretty telling of the type of prospect the coach is looking for). Compare your student’s athletic skills to the players’ backgrounds. Would they be able to compete?
Also, look for your student’s position and note the athletes’ grad years. Coaches typically recruit on demand, so if they already have newer athletes at your son or daughter’s position, they’re probably not filling that roster spot this year.
Insider Tip: You can check out hometowns on the current roster to make sure the coach recruits in your area.
Your message is too generic
Time is everything to college coaches. They are contacting and being contacted by thousands of high school athletes. So when a message rolls in without much thought or effort, it’s sure to get left behind. Bottom line? Copying and pasting the same email to different coaches is the wrong way to connect.
What to do
Did we mention the importance of research already? It really does matter in the recruiting process, especially when it comes to emailing coaches. There’s some basic information that will be in every email, such as their stats, position, schedule, GPA, test scores and coach references but just as important, your student needs to tailor their message to the university and coach. They should dig into majors offered, campus life and academic counseling, as well as program information, such as notable athletes, upcoming games, and how the season is going.
You aren’t reaching out at the right time
Let’s say your athlete is doing everything right—they’ve got a solid list of target schools, done their research, and have crafted near perfect emails—but they still aren’t hearing back from college coaches. What gives?
Most likely, the coach isn’t allowed to reach back out to them just yet. The NCAA dictates when and how Division I and Division II college coaches can contact student-athletes. For example, Division II college coaches can send emails and personal recruiting materials to athletes starting June 15 after their sophomore year, and Division I begins September 1 of their junior year (expect for men’s basketball, which is June 15 after their sophomore year, and men’s ice hockey, which is January 1 during their sophomore year).
READ MORE: When can DI coaches contact athletes?
What to do
Lean on your student’s club or high school coach. Even though college coaches can’t personally reach out until these dates, they’re still recruiting. Here’s how it works: athletes are allowed to contact college coaches at any time, and when they do, the college coach can speak with them. So, the college coach will reach out to the recruit’s high school or club coach and schedule a time to talk. Then, the athlete can call the college coach at that time.
It may also be your just not sending enough emails.
Waiting to hear back from college coaches can be a challenging part of the recruiting process for many student-athletes. But if you encourage your student to be proactive, research the school, spend time on their emails and loop in their high school coach, you’re sure to have more success.