Recruiting. Most coaches have a strong reaction to that word. It’s either something like, “Yippee!!” or an expletive that can’t be written in this blog. I tend toward the yippee crowd, because I understand what recruiting is…but before I get into all of that, check out this post I wrote a year ago when I started this blog, The 1 Thing You Need To Be A More Effective Recruiter.
I believe when we understand what recruiting is, we take a more active and engaged interest in potential student-athletes. Recruiting is our chance to make an impact, to teach young people leadership, team building, goal setting…more on that in the next post. And if we’re lucky enough to coach female athletes, we have the added opportunity to show them that girls and women can not only get along in groups…they can achieve great things together. We don’t get the chance to teach these lessons if we don’t get our recruiting on! That’s why I’m talking about recruiting during “I Love Coaching” month.
Now that we can agree that recruiting is more than putting together a bunch of folks with an array of skills that will benefit the team (though that’s certainly important!), let’s talk about the four quadrants that make up a successful recruiting class.
- Scout. This is the beginning of the process. The most obvious way to scout is to attend recruiting events. I won’t talk about how much I love the first view when I walk into a convention center and witness volleyball courts as far as my eyes can see…it’s glorious and it never gets old. More important than scouting is being connected. If we have contacts with club/AAU teams, high schools coaches, even other college coaches, we can maximize our efforts.
- Contact. Once we’ve got athletes that we’re interested in, then it’s time to get in touch with them. Whether that’s going to see a practice, watching a game, calling, emailing, talking to their club coach, home visits…whatever you can do within the rules of your league is fair game. If you’re not doing it, someone else will.
- Visit. Any Admissions professional will tell you that your odds increase dramatically if you can recruits on campus. Sooo, we’d better make sure we get them on campus! Not only do they see campus, they get to sit in on a class, meet your team, and generally see what campus life would be like if they were to attend your college. I know some coaches who threaten their team with copious time on the bench if they’re negative with a recruit. I’d prefer to remind them that someone took time with them when they were still making their college decisions and now it’s their time to return the favor. Also, they don’t want the team to be awful when they leave…the only way to ensure that the level of play stays high is through recruiting efforts.
- Retain. Plain and simple, we’ve got to keep them on the hook. We don’t want to spend months and months on an athlete, only to have them snatched out from under us because we thought we had them wrapped up. Use your team, have them send your recruits emails or hook up with them on Facebook. Of course, we should stay in touch with them and remind them of why they fell in love with our team and our college all those months before. In the last few weeks before I got married, my brother advised me to “not screw it up now”. Great advice! Basically he was warning me not to become Crazy Wedding Lady and forget to show my hubs why we were doing this in the first place. Coaches, we’ve metaphorically “wooed” these recruits…let’s not screw it up by not closing the deal.
Recruiting is any team’s lifeblood. I think remembering that our job as a coach is to teach life lessons through our sport will make recruiting more meaningful and less of an obligation.
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