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 is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology-based recruiting software identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting advisers provide a recruiting experience that is trusted by college coaches and backed by a money-back guarantee.
Every college coach in the country keeps a list of the athletes they are most interested in. If you’re lucky enough to have your name on a few of those lists, the last thing you want to do is to say or do something that might cause a coach to scratch your name off that list.
College coaches have the difficult job of projecting how a high school athlete will develop athletically, deal with problems emotionally and react to the pressures of college athletics. That’s a pretty tall order, especially when sometimes they have to make decisions on recruits quickly and based on the best information currently available. There are many things a recruit might do that could cause a coach to scratch their name off his or her list even before they have seen them play, but there are 5 most common. They all can be easily avoided.
Don’t overstate your athletic and academic abilities
The fastest way to get your name scratched off any coach’s recruiting list is to provide them with inaccurate information about your athletic and academic abilities. I know it’s tempting to “project”, “round up”, or “slightly exaggerate” a few items, but you need to understand that college coaches verify information on any recruit they are truly interested in. If you waste a coach’s time by providing information that isn’t accurate, you will never play at that school.
Don’t make the mistake of convincing yourself that because you’re a freshman or sophomore it’s okay to project that you will improve as you get older and work harder. College coaches already know that, and they are comparing you to other athletes in your grade. They understand that some athletes develop later than others and they have the knowledge and experience to project how much you might develop. In fact, most college coaches will be able to project your abilities just from viewing your game film.
Don’t make poor decisions on Social Media
WARNING: Right or wrong, college coaches will assume that how you act in high school is how you will act in college. That includes how you act on your social media accounts. In fact, most coaching staffs have someone on staff who is responsible for reviewing the social media accounts for every potential recruit and they aren’t just looking for foul language or inappropriate images.
College coaches can tell a lot about a recruit from their everyday posts. A recruit’s daily habits and actions on social media really reflect their personality. If it’s obvious that an athlete hates practice, doesn’t get along with teammates, complains about their coach, or isn’t doing well in the classroom, that recruit’s name might be removed from the prospect board before they even see him or her play. If you really want to play in college, you can’t afford to have your name removed from consideration before the coaches have even seen you perform.
Don’t send impersonal emails or inappropriate direct messages
When you decide to send an email to a college coach, take the time to get it right. If you really believe a two sentence, general, impersonal email will be well received by a college coach, think again. In fact, it’s downright irritating. If you want college coaches to be interested in you, you have to be sincerely interested in them. The more personal the email, the better chance you will get a response. I would much rather have a recruit send 5 personal emails than 50 “canned” emails that make it obvious they don’t have a sincere interest in the program.
Much like an impersonal email, an inappropriate tweet or a direct message that reads something like, “Hey Coach, check out my highlights!” isn’t anything a college coach wants to see. Neither one is going to get a response or even get considered. Thoughtful, polite and respectful comes across much better than lazy, cocky and arrogant. Don’t have your name scratched off any recruiting lists because you’re too lazy to take the time to show your real interest in a program.
Don’t let your parents call college coaches for you
I’ve always said that the college recruiting process is the responsibility of the athlete. It’s not the responsibility of your coach and it’s not the responsibility of your parents. Certainly, your coaches and parents can help, but I’m pretty sure your parent’s opinion might be a little bias. That said, some parents actually contact college coaches on behalf of their kids. That must be an awkward conversation for the college coach, especially if they haven’t even met the athlete yet. The coach has to find a nice way to tell a well-meaning parent that their opinion of their own child’s abilities really doesn’t matter. It’s much easier to scratch that recruit off the list and not have to deal with the situation.
Don’t ask for scholarship money during the first conversation
Timing is everything and just so you know, when a college coach is ready to discuss the opportunity of an athletic scholarship, they will bring up the topic. Unless you’re a 5-star recruit, college coaches want and need to get to know you as an athlete and a person before they even consider offering a scholarship. When you go on a job interview, you don’t walk in and ask “So, how much will you be paying me?” You wait for the appropriate time for that discussion.
Just remember, the coaches know you want to maximize your scholarship dollars and if they are truly interested, they will initiate the scholarship discussion. That conversation might happen during the first meeting, but the more likely scenario is that it will happen after you’ve established a relationship with the coach.
Here’s the deal
There are many reasons why a college coach might remove an athlete from his or her recruiting list. That’s a fact, so take my advice and make sure you don’t give any coach a reason to scratch your name off their list before they even get a chance to know you.