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.
If there’s one thing recruiting experts agree on, it’s that student-athletes must be proactive.
And as much as technology has made phone calls feel like a thing of the past, the proactive step of calling a college coach can have a very positive impact on your recruit’s future. But how do you know when it’s time to call—both big picture-wise (“Is it too early?”) and more specifically (“What time of the day?”)? We’ll help answer these questions starting broad and narrowing it down, ending with a few tips for the call itself.
Why calling is important
Direct, real-time communication with college coaches is invaluable. Your student-athlete can convey their interest in the program, get their questions answered and build rapport. College coaches are considering hundreds of potential recruits, many of who are on the same level as your student-athlete; a phone call can be a great differentiator. It shows leadership, maturity, initiative and the ability to step out of one’s comfort zone—all qualities coaches want from athletes on their roster.
When to start calling
Technically, student-athletes can initiate contact with college coaches at any point in their sports career; however, phone calls should be made strategically. For example, there’s no point in calling college coaches if your student-athlete is an underclassman without varsity experience. Thus, the majority of student-athletes will want to wait until their junior year to pick up the phone.
By the time calling coaches is appropriate, student-athletes should have narrowed down their target list of schools to those they know they are most interested in. It’s also important to note that calling should not be the first point of contact with the coach. Your student-athlete should have sent at least an introductory email to the coach with their athletic resume and letting them know to expect a call.
Insider Tip: Although college coaches must follow NCAA rules in regard to contacting recruits, it’s possible that a college coach may instead contact your student-athlete’s high school or club coach to schedule a time for your student-athlete to call.
What time of year to call
The best time of the year to call coaches varies by sport. They are always busy, but they are generally busiest during the season. If you’re calling for the first time, try to catch them in the offseason or the summer. Research the NCAA DI and DII recruiting calendars for detailed information about when coaches are most accessible by sport.
What day of the week to call
Like time of year, what day of the week to call depends on the sport, so there’s not one concrete answer. The biggest tip would be to have your student-athlete look at the team’s schedule and be sure not to call on a game day, or even a couple days before. From our research, coaches say Mondays or Tuesdays typically work best.
Insider Tip: Calling the day after a game provides a good opportunity to bring up the team’s win as an ice-breaker, if applicable.
What time of the day to call
As you might imagine, college coaches aren’t typically sitting around in their offices. They are on the go—at practices, games, camps, etc. If you’re able to call early, 8-10 a.m. during the week, you might catch them in their office; otherwise, it’s best to call between 6 and 10 p.m. They will likely be done with practice by this time. If it’s the offseason, your student-athlete might have more luck calling during the day.
Insider Tip: Make sure your student-athlete lets the coach know the day before that they are going to call him or her at a certain time. This will give the coach time to prepare, if needed.
How often to call
Once your student-athlete has gotten their first call to a coach out of the way, each subsequent time should get easier. If they are a junior with coaches interested, they should follow up via phone once a month. If they are a senior, it should be more frequent, every two to three weeks or so. Also, once they are a senior, communication will pick up in general, as coaches are no longer prohibited from reaching out directly.
Insider Tip: Although there are many, some reasons to follow up with coaches include letting them know about a new highlight video or SAT/ACT scores; to inform them of your camp schedule; or to thank them after an unofficial visit.
When coaches can contact you
Coaches at the Division I and II levels have strict rules around when they can initiate contact. So, if you were unable to connect with a coach on the phone and they didn’t call you back, it might not be because they aren’t interested; they just might not be allowed to! For most sports, college coaches can begin calling recruits starting September 1 of the student’s junior year of high school. Check out the contact rules on the NCAA website. DIII coaches can call at any time.
Tips for the call
Phone call tips deserve an article themselves (and there’s a lot of good information here, but some good basic advice follows:
- Do thorough research on the school and program before you call. Know the coach’s name, background and roster attributes.
- Be confident and speak clearly. State your name, graduation year, where you’re form and remind them of any communication you’ve had prior (e.g., “I am following up on an email I sent you …”)
- Prepare questions so you have something to talk about.