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. Kyle Winters was a standout high school pitcher who tossed seven scoreless innings in a major tournament during his senior year. That performance against some heavy-hitting future MLB draft picks helped Kyle earn a full-ride scholarship to the University of New Mexico. However, Kyle opted to play professional baseball and was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the fifth round and played seven seasons for various minor league teams. Kyle 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.
“I created a highlight/skills video and posted it to my recruiting profile; now what?”
This is one of the more frequently-asked questions I get and it’s an excellent one. Posting your video is only step one. Now it’s time to get proactive. A highlights/skills video is an essential tool to market yourself and raise your visibility with college coaches. Research shows that a recruiting profile that includes a highlights/skills video is at least 12 times more likely to be viewed than a profile without one.
I recently spoke with NCSA Recruiting Coaches Andy Drake and Julian Beckwith who shared some winning strategies on how to put your highlights/skills video to work for you.
You cannot count on a coach simply finding your video
After posting your highlights/skills video, you must make sure it gets seen by the right coaches. Drake recommends that prior to emailing prospective coaches, athletes should prioritize colleges on their target list starting with those they are most interested. “Strategically figure out, ‘Who do I want to reach out to, first?’ he says. “Then craft a personalized email to those coaches letting them know your video is available to view.”
Your video is a great reason to contact coaches
College coaches just don’t have the time or budget to watch every recruit play in person, so for most sports, video is your ticket in to the recruiting process. The video, notes Beckwith, “gives coaches something by which they can begin evaluating you for their program. If an athlete has already communicated with a coach, the video link email is a way to stay on a coach’s radar. Updates, whether regarding your video or transcripts, can also strengthen that connection.”
Videos should be updated roughly every six months. “You don’t want a video that is a year old,” Beckwith states.
Insider tip: Consider also sending a DVD. Yes, that sounds very 1990s, but while coaches consider email to be the bread and butter of their communications, there may be something to be said for going old school in addition to sending an email with a link to your video and posting your video on social media. “College coaches probably receive up to 100 emails a week from players,” Beckwith suggests. “Sending a DVD in the mail to one or two of your top target schools might catch their attention. If you’re passionate about a certain school, you need to do everything you can to stand out.”
Drake and Beckwith recommend sending your highlights/skills video to your high school, travel or club coach, or let him or her know that it is available on your recruiting profile or on your social media. “Get your coach involved,” they agree. In the quest to drive more traffic to your video, it helps to have other advocates in your corner who can give a nudge to a college coach.
Follow-Up and Follow Through
Beyond getting views of your highlights/skills video, the care you take in getting it seen, following up, and following through with any responses demonstrates a work ethic and communication and organization skills that may raise your profile with coaches.
There is a good plan of action once you’ve reached out to a coach but have not received a timely reply. Drake suggests allowing at least two weeks for a response. It is appropriate at this point to send a follow-up email, or better still, to call and inquire whether your initial email was received and if the coach had a chance to view it. Ask for any feedback or even if the coach thinks you might be a player in which they would be interested in recruiting.
If there is still no response post-follow-up, Beckwith recommends athletes move on. “You’re most likely not going to get a 100 percent response,” he says. “Continuing to follow-up with unresponsive coaches is a waste of your time and theirs.”
Insider tip: “In addition to the head coach, send personalized emails containing your highlights/skills video to the recruiting coach or an assistant coach who may be your position coach,” Drake says. “Just as athletes want more personalized emails from a coach, so do coaches appreciate personalized emails from the athlete. If I receive an email sent directly to me, I will take more ownership than I would an email that has been blasted out to several coaches at once.”
Share your Video on Social Media
In addition to posting your video on your recruiting profile, be sure to post it on social media. When it comes to Twitter, Beckwith further suggests following coaches and programs on your target list as a way to increase views and “shares” of your video. “Keep your social media sport-centric,” he adds. “Re-tweet about your sport.”
Drake also recommends athletes tag coaches and tweet them, especially if they have had contact. “Pinging a coach might get them to check you out,” he says.
Insider tip: A compelling subject line is another way to get coaches to open your email and view your video. “Make sure your subject line includes the word ‘video,’ he adds. “They know if they open the email, it will be worth their time.”