Nelson Gord is a former collegiate and professional ballplayer, successful high school head coach and the founder of the largest travel baseball club in Illinois. Nelson is just one of many former college and professional athletes and coaches who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their experience—along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community—helped create NCSA Team Edition, the free recruiting platform for club and high school coaches and their teams.
Between preparing gameday strategy, running practices, traveling to games, planning budgets and scouting for recruits, college coaches do not have much free time. That’s why they do much of their recruiting at events where multiple teams will be present. They don’t have time to zig-zag across the country to check out individual recruits, but at large tournaments, showcases, combines and other events, they can potentially see dozens of prospects compete in one place.
This is why getting noticed at recruiting events is so important for your athletes. Fortunately, as a high school or club coach, you can help your athletes get more recruiting exposure by having them follow a few steps. Read up on what your athletes should do before, during and after a recruiting event to get noticed by college coaches. Just remember that every sport and event is different—though this guide should provide a solid template for what to do.
Athletes and parents: You can apply these tips directly, but also feel free to share them with your high school or club coach.
Before an event
It’s important to note that most college coaches go into a recruiting event with a list of athletes they are planning to watch out for. If your athletes want to make sure they are noticed, they have to prepare in advance.
- Going in, your athletes should already have a target list of colleges that they hope to get noticed by and they should be sending their full event schedule to those college coaches. Once they receive their specific game times, they should share those too.
- Events often provide a list of college coaches that will be in attendance or have previously attended. Your athletes should look at this list and contact any coaches from schools of interest.
- Your athletes should reach out to college coaches before the event to get on their radar, sharing pertinent info and providing them with an updated recruiting video. This can help separate them from dozens of other potential recruits.
- If college programs that will be in attendance have a recruiting questionnaire on their website, your athletes should fill that out.
- For college coaches in attendance, your athletes should follow them on social media.
During the event
Not every recruiting event is the same. Tournaments, showcases, combines, clinics, camps, etc., can have different rules about communicating with college coaches. Keep that in mind.
- At camps, it is usually fine for your athletes to introduce themselves to college coaches before the event. At a showcase or tournament, this usually isn’t the norm.
- Depending on the event, there can be specific rules depending on division level and grad year for how college coaches can interact at these events. Sometimes no contact is allowed, while other times contact is allowed once your team is done playing for the day or the weekend, for example.
- Typically, you should talk to college coaches in attendance at an event. If a college coach is interested in speaking with any of your athletes, they will tell you to have athletes talk to them after the game or have them follow up via email.
- “When talking to a college coach that you do not have a prior relationship with, it is important to begin the conversation with introducing yourself, background, organizational mission and what sets your program apart from the thousands of other teams,” says Sami Baugh, Director of Recruitment at OC Batbusters Chicago.
- Sami also adds that you can show your engagement by asking questions, like:
- What are you looking for today, and how can I be of help?
- What are the selling points of your college?
- What majors attract students to your college?
- What are the entrance requirements?
- What type of student-athlete tends to succeed at your college?
- How many scholarships does your program have and how many do you have left in each graduation year?
- You can help college coaches by having a roster sheet with basic information available for them at the event. This can help college coaches have specific conversations with you about your athletes.
- You can also use social media to post about athletes that have performed well at an event. Gavin Sullivan, Director of Midwest Prospect Academy (a travel basketball club) adds, “We will also post and retweet any social media from other sources regarding our players. We allow our players to retweet information about themselves from other sources and people. We feel that others’ promotion is better than self-promotion.”
After the event
The work isn’t done once an event is over, no matter how well an athlete performed. Your athletes need to maintain communication with college coaches in order to stand out.
- Remind your athletes to follow up with college coaches and let them know how they performed at the event.
- In follow-up communication, athletes should also ask specific questions about the college, team, coaches’ needs and next steps that they can take.
- Sami Baugh of OC Batbusters recommends that athletes shouldn’t be afraid to ask bold questions, like “After evaluating me at this past event, do you think I would be a good fit for your program?”
- You should gather information about all college coaches you spoke with and athletes you discussed. Let each athlete know who they should follow up with.
- You can send a follow-up email to any college coaches you spoke with—particularly when dealing with underclassmen—to get better feedback on if a college is interested or not. You can ask what information a college coach might need, any other questions they have and how to keep in touch with them for future events and updates.
- “If a college coach is unresponsive or does not give direct feedback regarding interest level when asked, and division rules allow for communication, chances are that the athlete will not be recruited to that school,” adds Sami Baugh. At this point, you can provide families with a status update so they can update their target list.
- You can also gather videos and photos and promote athletes on social media after the event. Gavin Sullivan of Midwest Prospect Academy adds, “We will also sometimes create highlight packages for players and teams and promote them on our social media accounts as well.”
The proper event preparation can offer a tremendous recruiting boost for your athletes, but it is also a time-consuming process. That’s why NCSA developed Team Edition to help coaches like you connect with college programs, manage your athletes and save time. Do you need help with more event exposure? Have any topics which you’d like to see covered in this column? Reach out to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll let you know how we can help.