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. Joe Lecessi is a former college athlete and coach at the NAIA level, where he earned an NAIA National Championship. Joe 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.
College camps are a summertime staple for many student-athletes. They are competing against other top recruits in their graduate class and getting tips and advice directly from college coaches. No doubt—it can be an exciting time in recruiting.
But then it’s over, and your athlete may be wondering what to do next. Here are a few steps they can take post-camp to maximize their college opportunities and reconnect with coaches.
Were you a “recruit” or a “camper”?
The course of action really depends on the type of experience your athlete had, and whether they attended as a “recruit” or a “camper.” It’s pretty easy to tell. For example, if they received a personal invitation from the coach and were in contact with them ahead of time, your son or daughter was most likely being recruited and evaluated at the camp.
If your athlete received a generic invite or attended the camp for skills development, that most likely means they weren’t being evaluated by a coach and went as a “camper.”
Both experiences can be beneficial and there are follow-up steps for each scenario to help your athlete move their recruiting efforts forward.
Always send a thank you email
Right after camp, both “Recruits” and “Campers” need to send an email (written by your athlete, of course) to the coach thanking them for their time and help.
For campers, the main objective is to remind the coach of who you are, especially if you were not in contact with the coach before the camp.
If your athlete worked closely with a particular coach, they should explain specifically how the coach helped them improve, why they had a positive experience, and what they liked most about the camp. Then, the rest can read like an introductory email.
They should tell the coach why they are interested in their program and give them a snapshot of who they are as a student-athlete by including key stats, grades, accomplishments, test scores and highlight video (if available). Your athlete should also ask for feedback if the coach helped them train, and what they’re looking for in a potential recruit is also a great question to ask.
That’s why follow up emails are so important. It’s a real opportunity to connect with the coach, start a dialogue, and have them evaluate your athlete’s film.
INSIDER TIP: If you haven’t filled out a recruiting questionnaire yet, do this as soon as possible. College coaches use questionnaires to find prospects who are interested in their school and build their databases of recruits. Just Google the school’s recruiting questionnaire and you’ll most likely find a link for it online. This crucial first step should not be overlooked.
Read more: Why you should fill out questionnaires
If your child went to the camp as more of a “recruit” and they had already been in contact with the coach and were evaluated, you can think of this email more as a follow-up communication.
In this email, your athlete should ask for feedback about their performance, express their continued interest in the program, and inquire about the next steps. The coach may want you to schedule a game day or official visit this season if you’re an upperclassman. It’s important to also send them your highlight film, so they continue to see your development as a player. If the coach is really interested, they may ask you to send game footage at the beginning of your upcoming season, too. Typically, coaches use the first third of your season as a marker to see how well you’re doing and better understand how you’ve developed since summer.
Read more: How to create and update a highlight film
Take action quickly
Many college coaches, especially football coaches, take a break right before their season starts. At the end of summer, there’s a brief lull when camp is over and they’re preparing for their upcoming season. During this time, they’ll halt their recruiting efforts for a bit and take a well-deserved vacation. If you wait too long to send your post-camp communication, it may get lost.
Don’t forget to follow up
As a rule of thumb, don’t expect things to happen after sending just one email to a college coach. Coaches are extremely busy, and they receive hundreds of emails a week. You should always follow up with them and let them know how you’re progressing in your recruiting, so you stay top of mind. Typically, the best strategy is to send an email, follow up with a phone call, send another email, and then send periodic noteworthy updates. If you haven’t heard back after your third communication, though, you should put more focus on other schools.
Connect on social media
Attending camp is a great networking opportunity. Several coaches may be present and there’s a chance your athlete worked with one in particular. Think of social media as a way to stay connected and on the coach’s radar. Prior to the camp, remind your athlete to send a friend request/invite right away once they’ve trained with a coach in person, so they recognize their name when they see the request. Plus, your athlete can use this platform to keep coaches in the loop on their season, recruiting efforts, and send them direct messages for quicker responses.
Read more: How to DM a college coach
Attending a college camp is a great way to get exposure to coaches and sharpen your skills and size up the competition. But being proactive and persistent with communications afterward is what will help really set your athlete apart from other recruits.