USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com identifies appropriate colleges for potential recruits and delivers an online DIY college planning experience for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.
It is the start of a new year. 2015 is behind you and you can’t afford to procrastinate another day. If you are a high school athlete with the desire to play at the next level and you are not being highly recruited, it’s time to start the process of contacting college coaches on your own. If the college coaches don’t know you, how will they ever identify you for their program unless you contact them?
Emails are a great way to introduce yourself to a coach and start a dialogue. Most coaches actually look through their emails on a daily basis. When a player expresses sincere interest in a program and their abilities are a fit, an introductory email can spark interest from most college coaches. There is no instruction manual on how to write the perfect email, but let’s talk about the proper approach.
There is no combination of words in an email that will generate interest from a college coach if you aren’t contacting appropriate schools. Therefore, you really need an honest assessment of your abilities and then you have to search for colleges where you have a realistic chance to make the roster. Identifying all the college options that fit your academic and athletic profile is the most difficult and the most important part of the recruiting process.
Spend the time necessary to get this right, or your email will be deleted after the coach reads just a few words. That being said, a compelling email and a link to your highlight video might open the door for many college coaches across the country who currently know nothing about you.
I would recommend that you reach out to at least 30 colleges. I realize that sounds like a lot, but if you are organized it won’t take that long. Develop a spreadsheet that tracks your progress with each college you have contacted. Make sure you send follow-up emails and get your current coach involved in the process. This information needs to be included in your spreadsheet, so you know where you stand in the process.
What your emails should include
Once you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to start sending the emails. Since your email might be the first contact you have with a coach, it needs to be effective. Here is an example of an email that doesn’t really get the job done:
I play high school football and I really want to play in college. I am the fastest guy on my team and everyone tells me that I’m good enough to play in college. I really don’t know what I want to study in college, but I know that I’d like to play for your team.
If you have any scolarships left I would love to talk with you. Please call me at your convenience.
This email actually has a few positive qualities. Dave is expressing a sincere interest in the program and he has taken the initiative to reach out to the coaching staff. However, the negatives far outweigh the positives.
Unfortunately for Dave, his subject line probably won’t entice the coach to open the email. A general subject line generally means the email will be deleted.
Additionally, the email needs to be personalized and specific. The salutation should have the coach’s last name, Dave’s specific statistics should have been sited (not just that he is fast), a brief description of his academic profile should have been included and there is a typo in the email. Finally, there are many other specific items that can be included. Remember, you are trying to pique the interest of the college coach.
Here is an example of an organized, specific email:
Re: 6’8” Point guard that wants to be a Bulldog
Dear Coach Jones:
My name is James Rhodes and I would like an opportunity to be a part of your program. I have been following your team for years, I’ve done my research and I really want to be a Bulldog. Here is a link to my video: hudl.com/athlete/455455483
Below are some details about me as a player and a student. I have also included the contact information for my current coach if you would like to discuss my abilities with him.
Height/Weight: 6’8”/215 lbs.
Position: Point guard
Important statistics: 21.6 ppg, 4.1 apg, First team all-district
High School: West High School
Graduation Date: 2017
ACT score: 21
Current Coach Contact Info:
Coach Brian Longmont
I’d like to meet you and discuss the possibility of becoming a Bulldog in 2017. If there is anything I can do to help you decide if I am a good fit, please let me know.
Thank you for your time,
As I said previously, there is no magical formula for an effective email, but the above email is specific, respectful and polite. Those three things go a long way with college coaches.
Here’s the deal
When you send an email to a college coach be confident, but not arrogant. Make sure you are polite and respectful and don’t ask about a scholarship. The more you can personalize the email, the better it will be received. Finally, have someone proof it before you hit send!