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 Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. 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.
Interest. Conversation. Decision. If you really break it down, those are the three stages of the college recruiting process: 1) Your abilities will grab the attention of a coach, creating interest. 2) The interest you create opens up the lines of communication, leading to conversations, and 3) the interest and conversations ultimately lead you to the decision of where you will play in college. Whether we are talking about an NCAA Division I football player or an “under-the-radar” NAIA soccer player, makes no difference. When it comes to landing a roster spot at the next level, you will experience each one of those stages in successive order.
So where do most recruits go wrong in this process? Well, to put it simply, they have the order all wrong. Unfortunately, most recruits are focused on the decision, instead of being focused on creating interest and conversations. Essentially, they are putting the results before the process, causing them to lose focus of the things they can actually control. Today’s article is dedicated to creating interest and conversations with college coaches, via email. It’s all about understanding what gives you the best chance for a coach to hit reply! Because, remember, interest creates conversations and conversations lead to decisions.
Before we get into the three tips that will get a college coach to reply to your email, we have to get one thing straight: you need to be emailing the right programs if you want these tips to actually work. Hear me clearly, if you send emails to programs that do not match up with your academic and athletic qualifications, you might as well not even send the email. Save yourself time, energy, and heartache by emailing coaches that aren’t going to roll their eyes at your email while they hit delete. Bottom line, a proper email strategy can make or break your entire recruiting experience.
1. Short and to the point
Suzie Fritz, Kansas State Volleyball:
We get anywhere from 150-200 emails every day from potential recruits and we do our best to read each one. But we simply don’t have the time to spend 20 minutes on every recruit that sends us an email of interest. So, realistically speaking, you have about two to three minutes of our time to make an impression. Focus on what you really want us to know about you in that introduction.
It’s important, as a recruit, for you to understand that college recruiting is ultra-competitive. Simply sending an email makes you no different than the other 150-200 athletes that are doing the same thing, each day. That said, don’t waste a coach’s time by sending a 35-page dissertation on the greatness that is you. The reality is, they aren’t going to read it all anyway. Instead, send a brief overview of why you should be considered for their program and get to the point where that coach can make their initial assessment of you. Make the best impression you can make in two minutes or less!
2. Include a skills video link
Kellee Roesel, Cal Lutheran Volleyball:
Send us some film. We don’t need the recruiting videos with all of the lights and whistles. We really just want to see you play, so get us to that point as quick as possible. The best video we can get from any recruit is one that is the best representation of how you are playing at that time. Keep it short and make it easy for us.
If a coach could only make an initial evaluation on you based on video, what would you want them to see? Send that. The reality is that most college coaches will see a recruit for the first time on video, it’s the world we live in! Whether it’s game film or a skill-specific workout, college coaches can watch a video and tell whether a kid can play or not. You don’t have to break the bank making some elaborate “Gladiator”-themed video, either. Remember, they aren’t going to watch the whole thing anyway. Just make sure they can clearly see your athleticism and what you have to offer. Oh, and if a coach doesn’t know who you are and you don’t include a video link, don’t expect a reply to your email.
3. Make it personal
Matt Wilber, Dakota Wesleyan Basketball:
We want to know what you have got going on, what you are looking to do and that you are interested in Dakota Wesleyan for more than just basketball. Do you really think that Dakota Wesleyan is somewhere you want to be? Don’t send us an email if you haven’t looked at what an education from DWU would look like for you. We are much more interested in recruiting student-athletes that know about us and what we are all about before they decide to send us their information. If you truly want us to take you seriously, have those things in order before anything else.
College recruiting is about you, the student-athlete. It’s about what you want. It’s about the degree you want to pursue, the program you want to play for and the college life you want to experience. That is the fundamental principle you need to build your recruiting foundation on. If you can’t make decisions about what you are looking to accomplish, you are leaving your future in someone else’s hands. Additionally, your indecision is a bright, blinking light to college coaches and they aren’t interested in that kind of athlete. Dig in, figure out what you want and express it to the coaches you are sending emails to. Communicating your personal interest in a program greatly increases your chances of a coach hitting reply to your email.