Recruiting Column: The 5 W's of an intro email to a college coach

Recruiting Column: The 5 W's of an intro email to a college coach

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Column: The 5 W's of an intro email to a college coach


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 This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. identifies appropriate colleges for potential recruits and delivers an online DIY college planning experience for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.


Having a conversation isn’t always an easy thing to do. Whether the person you are talking to makes you nervous or you really just don’t know what to say, sometimes it feels like having a conversation can be as painful as getting a root canal. So it’s no surprise that a common question frequenting the Playced inbox is, “How do I email a college coach?” In other words, you recruits want to know how to spark the interest of a college coach. You want to know how to get noticed.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula that guarantees you will become a college athlete. However, your chances of playing at the next level greatly increase with each conversation you can have with a college coach. And to have a conversation, you must understand how to start a conversation! You must know how to properly introduce yourself to a college coach through an email.

Here are the 5 w’s you should follow every time you send an introductory email to a college coach.

Who do I email?

Typically speaking, a conversation usually takes place with one other person. When it comes to college recruiting, you definitely want to make sure that you aren’t talking to yourself! To make sure of that, you have to email coaches at programs that you can actually play for. Not only should you be able to play for that particular school, but you should also be sure that you are academically qualified for that school. One guarantee that you can count on when sending introductory emails to college coaches: if you can’t cut in the classroom or on the field, you won’t be receiving any replies or responses.

Once you have determined what colleges make sense for you, simply identify the coach or coaches on staff that handle the recruiting and use them as your contact(s) to communicate with. I would highly recommend you “cc” (carbon copy) every coach on staff that might have a say in recruiting you. For instance, if you play defensive back in football, use the “recruiting coordinator” as your main recipient and “cc” the other defensive coaches. If you are a soccer player interested in a NCAA Division II program, use the “recruiting coordinator” as your main recipient and “cc” all the other coaches on staff. Your goal should be to create some sort of accountability within that coaching staff to respond to your email. You want to hear back from the coaches you send emails to, good or bad.

What do I say?

If you were applying for a job, what would you say to the potential employer that you are wanting to work for? Well, you would express interest in the company, ask about job openings or opportunities and include your resume/qualifications on why you should be considered for employment. You would fact-find and learn as much as you could about what it would take for you to get to the next step of the hiring process.

That is exactly how it works in college recruiting. If a college coach doesn’t know who you are, you have to make the introduction. Present yourself in a manner that will logically get you to the next step of the recruiting process. Express specific interest in the program, attach some game film, ask the coach for an evaluation of your abilities and include your academic & athletic qualifications. The question isn’t “what do I say?” The question you should be asking yourself is “what do I say to make sure that I get a response from this coach?”


When do I send a college coach an email?

Simply put, you should send an email to a college coach when you are ready to be seen by that coach. The recruiting process is all about evaluation. It’s all about you evaluating what programs you want to play for and those programs evaluating whether or not you can play for them. Listen, every high school athlete will experience the recruiting process, differently. That includes the timelines in which colleges start expressing and showing interest. That said, stick to the rule of evaluation. Look at an introductory email to a college coach as a start to that process. If you are ready to be evaluated and seen, hit send.

Where do I find contact info?

Every relevant coach for any college program will be listed in the athletic staff directory on the school’s website. Names, job titles, emails and phone numbers are generally included within the staff directory. Any coach that you need to be communicating with or introducing yourself to, will be listed there. That was easy.

Why do I have to send an email?

Have you been noticed yet? Do college coaches know about you? Do you realistically know if you are being recruited? If you answered “no” to any or all of those questions, that’s why! If you aren’t sure whether a coach will eventually find you, go find them. It’s your best option.

I have been fortunate enough to have been around college athletics for nearly 20 years now. During that time, college recruiting has changed so much. But in those 20 years, there is at least one thing that hasn’t changed about college recruiting and that is who ultimately controls the process. It’s you, the recruit. You are the one that controls your own destiny. You are the one that decides where you want to go, who you want to play for and what degree you will work for. So, why do you have to send an email introducing yourself to a college coach? Because your future depends on it.


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